Pet obesity has become a growing concern for many pet owners. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 54% of dogs and 59% of cats in the United States are overweight or obese. While many factors contribute to pet obesity, hypothyroidism is the most common.
Read on to learn more about this condition and how it can affect your pet’s weight.
What Is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a thyroid gland disease that occurs when it cannot produce enough of the hormone thyroxine. This hormone is responsible for regulating an animal’s body’s metabolism. When levels are too low, the body’s metabolism slows down, leading to weight gain.
Signs and symptoms include:
- Weight gain
- Dull coat
- Increased appetite
Hypothyroidism can result in more severe health problems, such as joint pain, infertility, heart disease, and other internal medicine issues if left untreated. Click this link for more details about vet internal conditions.
How Does Hypothyroidism Affect Your Pet?
If your pet has hypothyroidism, they may start to gain weight even if their diet and exercise routine stays the same. In some cases, pets may become lethargic and have trouble maintaining a normal body temperature. If you see any of these changes in your pet, take them to the vet for a check-up.
Cats may acquire hypothyroidism after surgery or iodine therapy as a treatment for hyperthyroidism. That’s why it’s essential to make a routine check-up schedule for your pet to catch medical issues early on. Aside from their regular dog and cat teeth cleaning and vaccination appointments, you should visit your veterinarian at least yearly for a wellness exam.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypothyroidism in Pets
Hypothyroidism is typically diagnosed through a physical exam, lab tests, and your pet’s medical history. Your vet will probably run a complete blood panel and a thyroid hormone test. The blood panel will help rule out other possible causes of weight gain, such as diabetes or Cushing’s disease. Once hypothyroidism has been diagnosed, your vet will work with you to create a treatment plan that’s best for your pet.
There’s no cure for hypothyroidism, but it can be managed with lifelong treatment. The most common form of treatment is:
- Daily oral medication
- Regular injections of thyroxine (in some cases)
Your vet will likely need to adjust your pet’s medication dosage over time to maintain their thyroid levels within a normal range. Pets must also have their thyroid levels checked periodically through blood tests.
Unlike hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland), there is no surgical treatment for hypothyroidism. If your pet has hyperthyroidism, most vet clinics offer surgery services, such as this pet surgery in Louisa clinic.
How to Manage Obesity in Hypothyroidism Pets
If your pet is obese, you can do a few things at home to help them shed some extra pounds.
- Discuss your pet’s diet with your vet. They may recommend food that’s high in fiber and low in calories.
- Ensure your pet is getting enough exercise. A daily walk or playtime session is a great way to help them stay active.
- In some cases, weight loss surgery may be an option for pets with obesity and hypothyroidism. This type of surgery is typically only recommended for pets that are significantly overweight and are unable to lose weight through dieting and exercising alone.
How to Prevent Hypothyroidism in Pets
There is no sure way to prevent hypothyroidism, but there are a few things you can do to help reduce your pet’s risk:
- Feed them a balanced diet.
- Make sure they get enough exercise.
- Avoid giving them too much iodine.
- If your pet has had surgery or treatment for hyperthyroidism, be sure to take them for regular check-ups so that any thyroid problems can be caught early on.
The Bottom Line
Hypothyroidism can be a factor in pet obesity. If you think your beloved animal companion may have this condition, take them to the vet for a check-up. Though it has no cure, it can be managed with lifelong treatment. The key is regular vet check-ups and catching the condition early on.