Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) can occur in any dog but is most common in dogs aged between 4 and 10 years old. It is caused by a decrease in the production of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland, which is situated in your dog’s neck, usually due to attack by their own immune system. The signs associated with hypothyroidism can be quite subtle. The key changes to look for are weight gain, duller coat (in extreme cases, hair loss and
shedding), dry flaky skin, heat seeking, sensitivity to light and general weakness.
Thyroid hormones have an important role in controlling the body’s metabolic rate. This means that dogs with hypothyroidism have a reduced energy requirement as the thyroid gland is failing to produce enough hormone.
Treatment involves topping up or replacing this hormone synthetically. Each individual dog will need different doses depending on how they respond and blood tests will need to be taken to check your dog’s thyroid hormone levels. Dogs generally respond very well to treatment.
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is very rare in dogs, but can occur and is usually associated with a cancerous change in the thyroid gland. The signs are dramatic weight loss, hyper or overactive behaviour, restlessness and increased appetite.
If you think your dog might be showing signs of hypothyroidism (or hyperthyroidism) please contact your local Village Vet practice and book an appointment with your vet.