The Job of The Thyroid
The thyroid is located in your pup's neck and is responsible for producing a number of important hormones which help to regulate your dog's body temperature and metabolism.
When thyroid hormones are too high or too low they can cause serious health issues for your dog. If your pup's thyroid is producing too much hormone, they will be diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.
Causes Hyperthyroidism in Dogs
Hyperthyroidism is becoming increasingly common in cats, however it is still relatively rare in dogs. When this condition is diagnosed in dogs it is a very serious health concern. In most cases hyperthyroidism in dogs is the result of thyroid carcinoma, which is an aggressive and fast growing cancer.
Signs of Hyperthyroidism in DogsIn the early stages of the disease many dogs will show no symptoms at all, or perhaps just a lump on the underside of their neck. When symptoms are evident they can include:
- Weight loss
- Increased urination
- Increased stool
- Shortness of breath
- Increased thirst
- Enlargement of thyroid
- Congestive heart failure
- Change in bark
- Difficulties swallowing
- Increased appetite
- Rapid heart rate
- Enlarged heart
- Facial swelling
- Heart murmurs
Upon examination, your vet may be able to feel a thyroid mass in your dog's neck or note an increased heart rate. Diagnostic bloodwork, and analysis of thyroid hormone levels will likely be done to help confirm a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism. Following diagnosis, further testing may be recommended to help determine the extent of the disease and the most appropriate treatment options.
Treatment for Dogs with Hyperthyroidism
When it comes to hyperthyroidism in dogs, surgery to remove the thyroid tumor typically has the best outcome provided that the mass is freely movable, less than 4cm in size, and has not yet spread to other parts of your pet's body.
Other treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or iodine therapy may also be used, either alone or in combination, depending on the stage of the thyroid cancer, tumor size, and the extent to which nearby tissue is affected.
Left untreated thyroid tumors are likely to grow very quickly and spread to other parts of your pet's body.
The prognosis is good for dogs that are diagnosed and treated early. With appropriate treatment, many dogs can go on to enjoy a long survival time and excellent quality of life.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.