With Valentine’s Day comes an abundance of chocolate (hopefully)! While these sweet treats are a delight for us, they are not at all good for our furry family members. Chocolate contains caffeine as well as a compound known as theobromine which can cause hyperactivity, increased heart rate, tremors, and even death if ingested in large quantities. Baker’s chocolate or any kind of dark chocolate are the most concerning since these have the highest level of toxicity.
Sugar-free treats (even those without chocolate) can also pose a danger. Some candies, gum, or baked goods that are labeled as sugar-free may contain a sugar substitute called xylitol. This product can cause significant drops in blood sugar and even acute liver failure. Be sure to read the labels of these products and keep them out of your pets reach.
If you suspect that your pet has ingested any of these items, please seek veterinary care right away.
Tags: Ask the Vet, Dog safety, Dogs, Health, Holidays, Pet advice, Pet health, Pet info, Pets, Safety, Tips
In response to the question that was posted about thyroid diseases, here is a quick review of hypothyroidism in dogs.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid glands (the small glands located in the neck) do not produce enough thyroid hormone (thyroxine). This hormone is responsible for maintaining your dog’s normal metabolism so too little thyroxine causes symptoms such as listlessness and weight gain. Other metabolic issues such as skin or haircoat problems, slow heart rate, and a lower than normal body temperature can also be seen in dogs with hypothyroidism.
Your veterinarian may suspect that your dog has hypothyroidism based on their symptoms but a true diagnosis will require measurement of the thyroid (T4) level in the blood. Sometimes, a low T4 level coupled with the symptoms is enough to make the diagnosis. If these results are not clear cut however, other tests such as a TSH level or a free T4 measured using a process called equilibrium dialysis may be required.
The good news is that this disease is easily treatable. You will need to give your dog thyroid hormone in the form of a pill that he will get once or twice a day for the rest of his life. Once your dog is on therapy, your veterinarian may recommend rechecking the thyroid level to be sure that the dose is correct. For dogs with hair loss, it may take 4 to 6 weeks before you start to see regrowth of hair. Increased activity is seen much sooner however at about 1 to 2 weeks after starting treatment.
If the signs listed above describe your pooch, call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment for blood testing.
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!