Hypothyroidism in dogs: how to recognise it

Hypothyroidism in dogs is a relatively common condition. Some breeds, like Golden Retrievers and Dobermans, are at higher risk as are middle-aged dogs and dogs that have been sterilised.

At Country Animal Clinic our resident dog Bobo had been gaining a significant amount of weight over the last year (7kg) and her coat had become dull. “We also noticed that she wasn’t her normal bubbly self,” says Dr Ingrid de Wet. “For a long time we thought people were possibly feeding her treats through the fence but when she had gained 7 kg (weight up to 30kg) and she just didn’t look happy we decided to look a bit further.

“After doing some blood tests we determined that she is hypothyroid (underactive thyroid gland). This means that her thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone.”

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

Thyroid hormone controls the body’s entire metabolism so if there is a shortage,  metabolism slows down. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • lethargy
  • weight gain
  • feeling cold
  • a rough dry coat
  • hair loss on tail
  • They may also suffer recurrent infections
  • A thickening of the skin
  • Tendon or ligament injuries
  • In severe cases, seizures or other neurologic problems.

Treatment

“Bobo has now been on thyroid supplementation for 3 weeks and she has already lost nearly 2kg. She is back to her normal self and is charging around the garden and getting up to mischief,” Dr Ingrid says. “It will take a few months for her to get back to her normal body weight.

“I love treating hypothyroid cases because they respond so well to treatment and they very quickly become happy dogs. She will have to stay on thyroid medication for the rest of her life and we will monitor her blood levels of thyroid hormone on a regular basis. We can do all the monitoring tests in-house,” says Dr Ingrid.