Aging dogs and cats are susceptible to developing thyroid gland dysfunction. This gland is situated in the neck and is responsible for producing thyroid hormones which regulates the metabolism.
Hyperthyroidism, which is the over excretion of the thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland, is seen more frequently in cats 10 years and older. Clinical signs of this disease include increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, increased appetite, weight loss and hyperactivity which is interpreted by excessive vocalisation and aggressive behavior. A physical exam by your veterinarian can help identify other symptoms of this condition such as an enlarged thyroid gland, a heart murmur, weight loss and a dull coat. To confirm this diagnosis a blood test, urinalysis and blood pressure are offered. Cats with this disease will need medication for the rest of their lives to help reduce the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. The treatment can be given in form of a special diet, tablets or topical cream. Treated cats need close monitoring to ensure optimal control of this condition. Ultimately, hyperthyroid cats that follow proper treatment can live many more happy years.
Hypothyroidism is more common in dogs. As the opposite of hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism is a deficiency of the production of the thyroid hormone. A dog that suffers of hypothyroidism tend to be more lethargic, can gain weight more easily, have a dull coat and skin problems which can manifest as scaling, skin infections and poor or lack of hair growth after grooming. The aforementioned signs will be observed through a physical exam by your veterinarian and measuring the level of thyroid hormones in the blood by different methods can help with the diagnosis. The treatment consists of administrating, in the form of tablets, a supplement of thyroid hormones. Similar to cats, close monitoring of the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood can ensure the correct dosage of medication. The energy level will be greatly improved as soon as the first week of treatment. Fortunately, dogs who are treated will have an excellent quality of life.
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