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Hypothyroidism in Dogs Education and Protocol

Hypothyroid Holistic Protocol for Dogs and Cats has been developed by a certified Master Herbalist and certified Canine Nutritionist with The Pet Health and Nutrition Center. Our Hypothyroid Protocol is the finest coordination of science and research-based recommendations that include diet, supplementation and herbal remedies to help support your dog or cat with hypothyroidism. Everyone here at The Pet Health and Nutrition Center truly cares and wants to help your pet get better, so give our suggestions a try because we are confident you will be pleased with the results.

Treatment Options for Dogs and Cats with Hypothyroidism

1. What is Hypothyroidism in Dogs and Cats?

The thyroid gland is located in the neck and has two lobes, one on each side of the trachea, making it shaped like a butterfly. Thyroid gland hormone production is influenced by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, which are located in the brain. When thyroid hormone production is lower than normal, this condition is referred to as hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland plays an important role in an animal's metabolism, hence many of the symptoms related to hypothyroidism include symptoms such as weight gain and lethargy.

How Does a Dog's Thyroid Gland Work?

1). The function of the thyroid gland is to take iodine, found in many foods, and convert it into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) (the most abundant thyroid hormone) and triiodothyronine (T3) (the most active form) . Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism. The normal thyroid gland produces about 80% T4 and about 20% T3, however, T3 possesses about four times the hormone "strength" as T4.

2). The thyroid gland is under the control of the pituitary gland. When the level of thyroid hormones drops too low, the pituitary gland produces Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which stimulates the thyroid gland to produce more hormones. Because of this relationship, the thyroid gland can be described as the furnace and the pituitary gland as the thermostat.

3). The pituitary gland itself is regulated by another gland called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is located in the brain and produces TRH Releasing Hormone (TRH) which tells the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid gland to release TSH. You could describe the hypothalamus as the controller of the thermostat since it tells the pituitary gland at what level the thyroid should be set.

Why Does a Goiter Occur in a Dog?

Goiters can be caused by a nutritional deficiency in iodine or when the thyroid gland produces either too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) or not enough (hypothyroidism). This occurs in with low iodine levels in the diet and hypothyroidism because a lower amount of thyroxine (one of the two thyroid hormones) in the blood causes the pituitary gland to release more thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This in turn tells the thyroid gland to increase production of hormones and results in this glands enlargement. Alternatively, in a hyperthyroid condition the increased stimulation of the thyroid gland causes its enlargement. A goiter in a dog can also be the result of thyroid tumors, which are usually benign, but sometimes can be malignant.

What Dog Breeds is Hypothyroidism More Common?

Hypothyroidism can affect any breed of dog but seems more common in golden retrievers, Doberman pinschers, Irish setters, dachshunds, boxers, and cocker spaniels. This condition occurs more frequently in middle-aged dogs (ages 4 to 10) of medium to large breeds.

2. Causes and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in Dogs and Cats?

What are the Causes of Hypothyroidism in Dogs and Cats?

A hypothyroid canine is commonly placed under one of two categories: lymphocytic thyroiditis or idiopathic thyroid gland atrophy. The former condition is the most common cause of hypothyroidism and is thought to be an immune-mediated disease. This means that the immune system decides that the thyroid is abnormal or foreign and attacks it. The medical community would say it is unclear why this occurs. However, if you are familiar with the activity of vaccinations, you understand the chemicals found in vaccines are included to stimulate an immune response that is not controllable. This immune response always damages tissue to some extent and the thyroid gland is particularly susceptible. If the immune response is over-stimulated, by a vaccination or exposure to some chemical, it is then called an autoimmune condition. With idiopathic (of unknown cause) thyroid gland atrophy, normal thyroid tissue is replaced by fat tissue. This form of hypothyroidism can be related to poor nutrition, exposure to chemicals or other unknown causes.

These two causes of hypothyroidism account for more than 95% of the cases in dogs. The other five percent are due to rare diseases, including cancer of the thyroid gland.

What are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in Dogs and Cats?

Since thyroid hormones affect an animal's metabolic rate, virtually every organ in the body can be affected. Below you can review some of the more common symptoms of hypothyroidism in our canine companions:

  • weight gain without an increase in food consumption
  • lethargy and lack of desire to exercise
  • cold intolerance, seeks out warm areas
  • dry, dull hair
  • thinning coat/excessive shedding
  • increased dark pigmentation in the skin
  • thickening of the skin especially in areas of friction such as the armpit.
  • increased susceptibility and occurrence of skin and ear infections
  • failure to re-grow hair after grooming
  • approximately 75% have high blood cholesterol levels
  • slow heart rate
  • Liver enzymes may be mildly elevated
  • mild, nonregenerative anemia is present in about 30% to 40% of hypothyroid dogs
  • Less commonly recognized signs that may be seen in a small number of dogs with hypothyroidism include dilation of the esophagus (megaesophagus) causing regurgitation, and abnormal function of nerves or muscles leading to weakness or abnormal ability to walk.

3. Standard Veterinary Medicine Treatment for Hypothyroidism in Dogs

How is Hypothyroidism Diagnosed in Dogs?

Step 1 - Screen for total T4 concentration

Thyroxine (T4) is the main hormone produced by the thyroid gland and circulates in the blood in two forms – attached to proteins or freely in the blood. Total T4 (TT4) testing measures both forms of the hormone. Free T4 (fT4) testing measures only the amount of free thyroxine. Total T4 concentration is a useful screening test for hypothyroidism. The reliability of this test for the diagnosis of canine hypothyroidism is reported to be 89% to 100%. If the T4 concentration is well within reference range, it is very likely the dog is euthyroid (has normal thyroid function) and further thyroid testing is not required. Free T4 (fT4) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) are evaluated only if the T4 concentration is low. Combined T4, fT4, and TSH testing is not recommended at this stage and may add unnecessary expense since a normal T4 concentration effectively rules out hypothyroidism.

A T4 concentration below reference range is not diagnostic for hypothyroidism. In addition to normal daily fluctuations, several medications have been demonstrated to lower the serum T4 concentration of dogs and some also affect fT4 and TSH concentrations. Furthermore, nonthyroidal illnesses can suppress circulating thyroid hormone levels. Concentrations of fT4 are less likely to be affected by concurrent illness, but if the illness is severe enough, fT4 can also be low. Therefore, thyroid testing should not be performed in dogs that are systemically ill.

Please note that “normal” reference ranges for T4 do not apply to sighthounds, as healthy dogs of these breeds have lower T4 concentrations than other breeds.

Step 2 - Confirm with testing for fT4 and TSH concentrations

When a dog suspected to have hypothyroidism has a low total T4 concentration, fT4 and/or TSH concentrations must be evaluated to help confirm or refute the diagnosis. When fT4 is also low a diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be made. If the TSH concentration is high, hypothyroidism can also be diagnosed. However, up to 38% of hypothyroid dogs have normal TSH concentrations, so a normal TSH concentration does not exclude the diagnosis. Because of this limitation, it is often helpful to evaluate fT4 and TSH simultaneously as confirmatory tests. If the fT4 is low (with a normal TSH), a diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be made.

If T4 is low and fT4 is within reference range, hypothyroidism cannot be diagnosed, and other reasons for the dog’s symptoms should be considered.

T3 concentrations vary widely and are not diagnostically useful.

Veterinary Treatment Therapy for Hypothyroid Dogs

Veterinary teatment for hypothyroidism consists of hormone replacement medication. Most hypothyroid dogs will receive T4 hormone medication. A few dogs are unable to make the conversion of T4 to T3 and require T3 medication.

4. Holistic Hypothyroid Protocol for Dogs

The goal of our Natural Hypothyroid Protocol is to support the health and proper functioning of your dog or cat's thyroid gland by providing important nutrients specific to this gland as well as supporting areas effected by low thyroid hormones such as the heart and skin, plus supporting glands that play a role in proper thyroid hormone output like the pituitary and hypothalamus.* At the same time, in a holistic fashion, we want to address any contributing factors whether these are in your pet's diet, environment or are related to medication side-effects. Since we do not necessarily know the root cause(s) of the imbalance in your particular animal, we do know from our research and experience what are the primary culprits.

Core Recommendations Suggested products are included in the Core Hypothyroid Package found below.

Our "Core Recommendations" form the backbone of our Hypothyroid Protocol. They consist of supplement recommendations that we feel are the most important to provide to your dog or cat with hypothyroidism. Thyroid supplements are displayed as a package and individually at the bottom of this page along with other helpful products from which you may make additional selections.

A complimentary Hypothyroid Help Sheet is included with every core hypothyroid supplement package purchase. If you require more direction please feel free to use our Email Consultation Form or if you desire some personalized "hand-holding" to help with your canine's or feline's renal therapy sign up for a Phone Consultation with Maria.

Vitamin Supplement for Hypothyroidism in Dogs Core Recommendation #1 - Daily Multi Plus

Our Daily Multi Plus is formulated with organic, whole foods that are extremely important to an animal's nutritional needs but are often missing from the majority of canine and feline diets. This special formula provides the enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, glandulars, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients that are so beneficial to the body's daily maintenance and repair needs for healthy aging. In this formula you will find the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants recommended by the veterinarian community for hypothyroidism - only in an organic, whole food form! Feeding a dog or cat organic, whole foods is holistic hypothyroid therapy for your pet at its best!

Remedy for Hypothyroid Dog Core Recommendation #2 - Hypothyroid Tonic

Our Hypothyroid Tonic is formulated by a certified Master Herbalist using organic herbs for the health of your dog or cat. Because of our holistic way of approaching chronic kidney disease, this hypothyroid remedy is formulated not only to strengthen a dog's thyroid function but also to support areas affected by this condition like the heart and skin.

Thyroid Glandular for Dog with Hypothyroidism Core Recommendation #3 - Thyroid Glandular

Using our Thyroid Glandular as part of glandular therapy for dogs and cats is one of the simplest, safest and effective holistic modalities for hypothyroidism available to us. Essentially, the science behind the use of a glandular for pets, is that glands, when taken internally, support and nourish the corresponding gland in the body. In the wild, the ingestion of glands is a very important part of an animal's nutrition and glandular supplementation is obviously missing from the majority of domesticated animals diets. This is simple and effective holistic therapy that can benefit canines and felines with hypothyroidism.

Biopreparation for Hypothyroidism in Dogs Core Recommendation #4 - Biopreparation

This special blend of four unique algae was developed by a Russian Scientist, Dr. Michael Kiriac after decades of research. It is grown in controlled hydroponic conditions so it is the purest microalgae supplement on the planet. Its thousand of nutrients are so bioavailable they do not have to be digested, they easily pass through the digestive tract and feed thyroid cells on a cellular level. One of the most important features of Biopreparation for this condition is its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier to nurture the hypothalamus. As you may be aware, the hypothalamus secretes TRH Releasing Hormone (TRH) that initates the production of thyroid hormone production. We recommend Biopreparation F3+ Forte for a hypothyroid dog or cat.

Highly Recommended

Dog and Cat Food for Kidney Disease Whole Food Nutrition

With a serious condition like hypothyroidism, in which the body needs the highest value nutrition possible for maintenance and repair of damaged tissue, we highly recommend a raw food diet for your dog or cat. Raw food is how carnivores, like canines and felines, have evolved to eat and they do best on a quality protein, low carbohydrate diet. They also thrive on a diet with sufficient moisture. This is, unfortunately, the opposite of how most pets are fed since the majority of commercial diets are low protein with 50% or more carbohydrates and only a 5-10% moisture content (compared to 75% found in a carnivores' ancestral diet).

In addition, kibble diets are harder for an animal to digest and this is the last thing hypothyroid canines and felines need at this point. Since thyroid function declines naturally as part of the aging process (not even mentioning damage from poor diet, over-vaccination, medications, topical pesticide products etc...) without the right nutrition that is easily digested, absorbed and metabolized your animal will have a more difficult time maintaining healthy thyroid function. If a raw food diet is not your cup of tea, the next best thing for animals with thyroid disease would be a cooked, whole food diet. There are now many quality premixes to choose from to which you can add your own raw or cooked meat.

If you decide to make a homemade diet for your dog or cat with hypothyroidism please research the proper way to do this and make sure to add a calcium source like our Seaweed Calcium. For a quick and easy way to add high-quality protein to your pet's diet with thyroid problems take a look at our Whey Protein Isolate. For more information and some diet recommendations that can be beneficial for canines and felines with a hypothyroid condition read our article How to Feed Your Dog or How to Feed Your Cat that can be found in our Education section.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids for Dogs with Hypothyroidism Chia Seed Oil

Animals with hypothyroidism tend to have dry, itchy skin and hair loss. Chia seed oil contains the plant kingdom's highest ratio of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This plant-based oil can help to improve the health of your dog or cat's heart, skin and other areas affected by hypothyroidism. It is organic and a much more sustainable source of omega 3 fatty acids when compared with fish oil.

Iodum 30c (aka Iodium, Iodine) Homeopathic Remedy

The thyroid gland is the primary recipient of iodine from the diet. Yet, taking too much, or too little iodine, can interfere with the proper activity of this gland. For this reason using a homeopathic remedy is a very safe way to address thyroid issues. (purchase elsewhere)

Calcarea carbonica 6c Homeopathic Remedy

Follow directions on container and stop when you notice your dog’s behavior has changed. Dosing homeopathics is very individual and often requires an experienced homeopath. But a good rule of thumb is to use according to directions for three days and then stop. Or stop sooner if you notice a change earlier than three days. If in the days or weeks ahead you notice a return of symptoms provide another dose. (purchase elsewhere)

References

Sargis, R.M. How your thyroid works. Retrieved from: https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid/how-your-thyroid-works

Williams DVM, K., & Ward DVM E. Natural hypothyroiod support remedies. Retrieved from: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/hypothyroidism-in-dogs

Hypothyroidism in dogs. Retrieved from: https://www.secretenergy.com/natural-hypo-thyroid-support-remedies/

Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Kidd, R. (2000). Dr. Kidd’s guide to herbal dog care. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Messonnier, S. (2001). Natural health bible for dogs & cats: You’re a-z guide to over 200 conditions, herbs, vitamins and supplements. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Murray, M. T., & Pizzorno, J. E. (1998). Encyclopedia of natural medicine (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Pitcairn R. H., & Hubble-Pitcairn S. (1995). Dr. Pitcairn’s complete guide to natural health for dogs & cats. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, Inc.

Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with whole foods: Asian traditions and modern nutrition (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Puotinen, CJ. (2000). The encyclopedia of natural pet care (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Keats Publishing.

Tilford, G. L., & Wulff, M. L. (2009). Herbs for pets: The natural way to enhance your pet’s life. (2nd ed.). Irvine, CA: BowTie Press.

Thibodeau, G.A., & Patton, K.T. (2008). Structure & function of the body. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

4. Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats with Hypothyroidism

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