Thyroid Problems and Dogs
Thyroid disease in dogs is becoming a rising concern. The disease can have a variety of symptoms, some of which often mimic other diseases. This can make it difficult to determine a true diagnosis for the disease. Some of the common symptoms include:
Dry skin and flakey skin
Irregular heat cycles in females or infertility
Dog seeks warmth or heat
Exercise intolerance or dog becomes less active
A 'tragic' expression where the dog appears sad or sorrowful
Other symptoms, which have been more recently stated by Dr. Jean Dodds, are behavioral changes that include shyness, aggression or phobias. And while traditional information states thyroid issues affect dogs ages 4 and older, Dr. Dodds also reports she has seen more hypothyroidism in dogs as young as 18 months of age and she believes hypothyroidism may becoming an epidemic problem in dogs.
While a dog may have only a few of the above symptoms, they can often be misdiagnosed as having allergies, IBD, arthritis and/or obesity. Oftentimes, owners can become frustrated when the symptoms persist and their dog's condition worsens.
Thyroid issues are often autoimmune in nature. Thyroid issues can happen slowly and many times the symptoms do not begin until most of the thyroid function is gone. Once the thyroid function starts deteriorating, the dog typically needs medication for life.
The thyroid is a gland that regulates hormones. Hypothyroidism causes a reduction of the thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism releases too much thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism is very rare in dogs. Most veterinarians can test for thyroid levels. The common test is a simple indication of the T4 levels. Newer tests also test for TSH and TSH stimulation testing. This gives a broader and more accurate testing. Dr. Jean Dodds of Hemopet gives a wider testing and even compares by breed norms. You can find out more about Dr. Jean Dodds, Hemopet and their thyroid testing at this website:
Blood work symptoms of hypothyroidism include increased cholesterol levels along with increased triglycerides, or elevated ALT. Should your dog's symptoms show an increase in any of these, or all of them, it is wise to do a complete thyroid blood work-up on your dog. In fact, if your dog shows stubborn skin and coat problems, unexplained lameness, lethargy, digestion problems, unexplained weight gain or hair loss, testing for thyroid levels should be done. The test may show that it is not hypothyroidism, but hypothyroidism could then be ruled out.
Why are we seeing a sudden surge of thyroid problems in dogs? I have read numerous theories that include such things as pollution, vaccinations and poor breeding. However, I do not think any of these are a main cause of hypothyroidism. I believe the primary contributor is diet, with the ultimate culprit of poor thyroid function and hormone balance coming from diets that contain carbohydrates.
Commercial dog foods (kibble) are high in starches, grains and fillers. When you load a dog with sugar, which are what carbohydrates consist of (grains, vegetables and fruit); it directly affects the hormone balance in the body. Putting a carnivore on a diet that uses large amounts of carbohydrates affects several important functions of the body in an adverse way. Some of the problems include gum disease and tooth decay, deficiency of amino acids needed to keep the kidneys, liver and heart healthy and obesity which results from the high calories found in grains and starches and by causing the dog to use too much energy trying to digest that much fiber on the dog's short and simple digestive tract. Dogs more easily digest animal proteins and fats. They provide the nutrients they need and require far less energy to digest and assimilate.
Feeding a diet that is raw or home cooked (at least 75% animal-based proteins and fats), provides the amino acids needed, most importantly the needed taurine and l-carnitine. Dogs also need iron and other minerals that are found in animal-based foods. Meat is also rich in trace minerals, including iodine, which is necessary for good thyroid health.
Other supplements that are helpful in enhancing thyroid health include:
EPA Fish Oil Capsules: EPA Fish Oil contains Omega 3 fatty acids, which help support the immune system. Combined with Vitamin E, both these nutrients help regulate hormones.
Berte's Green Blend: This sea vegetation blend contains kelp, spirulina, dulce and Irish moss, all of which provide the needed iodine and trace minerals needed to support canine health.
Berte's Immune Blend: This vitamin blend includes vitamin E, C, D, A and B vitamins and includes probiotics, all of which help support the immune system.
If your dog shows any of the symptoms listed for hypothyroidism, I recommend you get their thyroid levels tested at your veterinarian's office. If your dog's system is low in the thyroid hormone, it can cause so many different health problems, which only get worse if not treated. Feeding your dog a fresh raw or home cooked diet does so much to help keep their hormones regulated and helps maintain a healthy immune system. It also promotes a happier and healthier dog!
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