Hi Krissy. Thyroid diseases in dogs and cats are pretty different so I think we’ll tackle them separately. Let’s start with the kitties.
The thyroid glands are located in the neck and produce a hormone (thyrotropin) which helps regulate your cat’s metabolic rate. Cats can develop a benign (non-cancerous) growth on one or both of these glands which causes them to overproduce thyrotropin and leads to hyperthyroidism. A small percentage of cats (1-2%) will have hyperthyroidism due to a malignant cancer called thyroid adenocarcinoma.
The signs of hyperthyroidism are caused by an increase in the metabolic rate because of the overproduction of thyrotropin. The most common symptoms are weight loss despite an excellent appetite, increased water intake, hyperactivity, diarrhea, vomiting, and vocalization. In some cats, listlessness and loss of appetite can also be seen. Because of the increase in metabolic activity, cats with thyroid disease can also develop heart abnormalities such as an elevated heart rate, abnormal rhythm, heart murmur, or heart enlargement. Your veterinarian may need to screen your cat for these changes as well at the time of diagnosis of hyperthyroidism.
A definitive diagnosis of hyperthyroidism is simple and will require taking a blood sample from your cat to measure the thyrotropin (T4) level. An elevation in the thyroid level beyond what is expected for your cat’s age is diagnostic of hyperthyroidism. In some instances, if a T4 level alone is not diagnostic and the disease is still suspected, your veterinarian may order more specialized thyroid testing. Other tests to check liver or kidney function will also be recommended at the time of thyroid screening to make sure that your cat doesn’t have any other illness that needs to be addressed.
There are 4 common ways to treat hyperthyroidism: diet, medication, radioactive iodine, and surgery. Which option is best for your cat will depend on their overall health or the presence of other problems. Medical management with a medication called methimazole is fairly common but requires giving g an oral medication daily for the rest of the cat’s life. If your cat is a candidate and the service is available in your area, radioactive iodine therapy can be curative. Your veterinarian can discuss all of these options with you in greater detail.
I hope this helps Krissy. Thanks for the question!
Here at Best Friends Pet Care, we are excited to announce that we have been expanding into the veterinary care realm! Our guests have grown to know us as the leader in providing the best pet boarding, grooming, training and doggy day camp, nationwide. But on top of our 41 pet care centers, we are now operating nine veterinary hospitals and growing fast. This means we are now able to provide veterinary and pet care expertise! A total pet care experience for both you and your pet!
So what better way to share our new found knowledge and provide you with current information on care for your best friend? How about answering your questions and providing you with information that is important to you and your pet? In the next few weeks, we will be starting an “Ask the Vet” segment on our Dog Dish blog. We are super excited that Dr. Jennifer Garcia will be our first contributor.
Dr. Garcia joined the team at Sugar Land Veterinary Specialists (a member of the Best Friends Veterinary Group) in 2011. She brings a vast array of experience over the past 10 years of her career, including private specialty practice, consulting, and medical writing. Dr. Garcia has always had a love for animals which is why after graduating from UC Davis with a Bachelors of Science in Zoology she continued her studies at Colorado State University, where she achieved her degree in Veterinary Medicine. She has also been a Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine since 2001. When she is not hard at work, Dr. Garcia enjoys spending time with her husband and son, and working as a medical writer and editor. Despite the heat and mosquitos, she enjoys spending time outdoors, particularly in the Texas Hill Country whenever possible.
In the coming weeks we will be kicking off our Ask the Vet segment and we’d like to hear topics that you are interested in discussing. Please leave us comments with topics or questions that you’d like to learn about!
When we turn back the clocks, it can be tempting to turn down the outdoor time with our pets. Shorter days and cooler weather make being outdoors less appealing. But, cutting back on outdoor exercise time can be a problem for our pets – especially for high-energy dogs in need of lots of active play.
In fact, insufficient exercise is a leading cause of problem behaviors – from chewing on the furniture, to howling, to having “accidents” in the house. To avoid these problems, Best Friends trainers recommend keeping your pet active all season long.
Go for a walk. Put on a warm jacket and brave the cold. A daily walk or run will allow your pet to release excess energy – and it’s also good for you. (If your daily excursion is after dark, be sure to wear reflective clothing.) If you have children, the daily walk to and from the school bus is a great opportunity for your dog to get some exercise.
Get out and play. Your children will also enjoy rolling around in the autumn leave — or winter snow — with a high-energy friend.
Join a meet-up group. Dog owner meet-up groups are popping up all over the country, and many schedule indoor sessions during the winter months. It’s a great opportunity for your dog to enjoy some active canine play, while you socialize with other dog lovers. Go to MeetUp.com and put in your zip code to find sessions near you.
Send your dog to camp. A great outlet for high-energy dogs is a program like day camp. Dogs exercise and socialize with other dogs in a safe, supervised environment. In addition to giving them exercise, these programs actually improve social skills while diminishing negative behaviors at home. To see if your local Best Friends offers a day camp program, go to the Locations page on our website.