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Underactive Thyroid in Dogs

The thyroid gland secretes hormones that your dog needs for body metabolism and cell development. When the thyroid gland is underactive, your dog does not get these hormones at normal levels, which brings about a host of health problems.

Causes

An underactive thyroid may be atrophied or diseased. Pollution or chemicals can damage it. Sometimes the dog's own immune system attacks the thyroid gland.

Symptoms

Your hypothyroid dog gains unexpected weight. Its skin becomes flaky and hair becomes dry. The dog is easily tired and sleeps long hours.

Diagnosis

An underactive thyroid is diagnosed by a blood test. This test measures thyroid hormones in the blood. The results are compared to the desired thyroid level for your dog's breed.

Treatment

A dog with an underactive thyroid will need replacement hormones such as thyroxine or a similar drug given twice daily.

Recovery

A dog will improve rapidly with thyroid medication, and its energy level will return quickly. With good diet and exercise, excess fat is gradually replaced with muscle, and the coat and skin improves in three to four months.

Prognosis

A hypothyroid dog requires thyroid medication for the rest of its life. With regular thyroid tests, however, it should have a normal and healthy life.

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About the Author

Phyllis Benson is a professional writer and creative artist. Her 25-year background includes work as an editor, syndicated reporter and feature writer for publications including "Journal Plus," "McClatchy Newspapers" and "Sacramento Union." Benson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at California Polytechnic University.