PetMeds® Diagnosing Hypothyroidism in Dogs
Hypothyroidism or a low thyroid is the most common hormonal disease seen in any breed dog. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include lethargy, weight gain, dull dry hair coats, and predispositions to ear or skin infections to cold intolerance, digestive tract, joint or neurological dysfunction. Diagnosing hypothyroidism can be sometimes difficult and I usually rely on a complete thyroid blood panel to include a T4, Free T4, as well as thyroid and thyroglobulin autoantibodies.
Many veterinarians only run a T4, which often over diagnoses this condition, as many other diseases can lower T4 levels. Treatment of hypothyroidism involves given thyroid hormone replacement usually in the form of T4 known as levothyroxine or Soloxine name brand. Most dogs will get this drug twice daily at least initially, while some dogs can be maintained on once daily Soloxine after initial control is achieved.
Since dogs with hypothyroidism tend to gain weight, it is important to give these pets adequate daily exercise or walks. I have found iodine-rich supplements like kelp, as well as vitamin E and selenium can be helpful in regulating hypothyroid dogs. When initially diagnosed, blood work is usually repeated in 4-6 weeks to make sure blood levels are adequate, and then once every 6-12 months after that, unless the clinical symptom picture changes.