Are you familiar with the term hypothyroidism? Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is underactive. This becomes a problem because the thyroid is responsible for regulating the metabolism in the body, in humans and dogs alike. As a result, the metabolism can be lowered to a screeching halt. Over time, the thyroid gland can become completely depleted.
Causes of Hypothyroidism in Dogs
Experts suggest there are a few different reasons for a dog to develop hypothyroidism. One reason is a result of a disorder called autoimmune thyroiditis. This condition causes the immune system to attack the tissues of the thyroid gland. Something as serious as cancer, or as simple as an iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism in dogs.
Another probable possibility is quite simply, genetics. Some dogs have a genetic predisposition to hypothyroidism. Medium to large sized dogs appear to be more prone to hypothyroidism. With all that being considered, environmental factors such as pollutants and allergies may also play a role in developing this condition.
Dogs with hypothyroidism may have a lethargic energy level, a generalized weakness in their body, or depression. Much like humans, unexplained weight gain is the most commonly-experienced symptom. Dogs with hypothyroidism may lose a lot of hair, shedding excessively. Some dogs with hypothyroidism have a hard time regrowing the hair they have lost. He or she may have an intolerance to cold, and experience recurring skin infections.
A veterinarian will need to perform a thorough physical exam on the dog to make a diagnosis. A blood test, biochemistry profile, endocrine testing and urinalysis may be used to help determine the underlying cause of hypothyroidism.
Treating hypothyroidism in dogs generally becomes a life-long situation. Carefully-administered medication is the first step. Synthetic hormones are given to the dog. The dosage may be adjusted as needed. As a result of medication, clinical symptoms may resolve after a few months. Your veterinarian may determine that specific changes in diet may also help alleviate the symptoms.
A Natural Approach
Proponents of natural medicine suggest there are several holistic options for treatment of hypothyroidism in dogs. Fenugreek, stinging nettle and kelp are suggested for treating this condition naturally. Kelp is an amazing source of iodine, as are other sea vegetables. Stinging nettle may be helpful in regulating metabolism, as well as balancing the thyroid and adrenal glands. Research suggests that fenugreek has the ability to naturally inhibit T3 and T4 hormone levels which contribute to this condition.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is another natural approach. Within this medical system, it is believed there is a life force that flows through every living being, called Qi (pronounced chi). The body can become out of balance if this Qi or life force is blocked. Acupuncture may be used to restore natural energy and healing flow throughout the body, in humans and dogs alike.