The thyroid is located in the lower neck area of the dog. The thyroid hormones, which are important for the body’s metabolism, are formed from it. If the thyroid produces too little of these hormones, this is referred to as hypothyroidism. Dogs are more likely to develop an underactive thyroid than an overactive one.
Which dogs are affected
In principle, all dogs can develop this disease. The first symptoms are still very unspecific, develop insidiously over months and years, and are often not even noticed by the dog owner. Hypothyroidism most commonly occurs in adult or older dogs (around 6 to 8 years of age). Medium to large dogs is more likely to develop hypothyroidism. These are, for example, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, German Shepherds, Schnauzers, Chow Chows, Irish Wolfhounds, Newfoundlands, Malamutes, English Bulldogs, Airedale Terriers, Irish Setters, Bobtails and Afghan Hounds. An exception is the dachshunds, which – although not even medium-sized – are also prone to this disease.
Signs of hypothyroidism in dogs
Signs of hypothyroidism in dogs are, on the one hand, poor general condition. If the dog is weak, gaining weight, and showing little interest in exercise, this—along with poor hair growth, thick hair, a brittle, dry coat, and flaky skin —can indicate an underactive thyroid. Sometimes dogs with an underactive thyroid will also show a “tragic look” – which is caused by water retention in the head area, especially around the eyes.
Treatment of hypothyroidism
Thyroid disease in dogs is now easily treatable. Special medications with thyroid hormones are used for treatment, which the dog must take. An improvement in the general symptoms usually occurs within two weeks after the start of therapy, skin and coat changes require four to six weeks before a visible improvement can be seen.