What is hypothyroidism? This is a common problem affected humans, and our furry friends as well. You can break the word down into a couple parts to determine the meaning. Hypo-not enough, thyroidism- pertaining to the thyroid. So basically what it means is the thyroid is under performing. This is most commonly occurring in dogs and is rare to see in cats.
What are some signs you may see in a dog with hypothyroidism? They thyroid is an organ that assists with metabolism in an animal. If they have hypothryoidism, they are going to be overweight (may be mild to severe) and will struggle to loose weight. It is also common to see hair loss on the flanks and hind end as seen in pictures below. Some may even develop hair loss on the back tail commonly referred to as "rats tail". These animals tend to be tired and sleep a lot of the day.
So how do you diagnose this disease? Based on the history that you give the vet at the time of the appointment and the signs that are seen when they do their exam, a vet will likely run a full biochemistry and blood panel on your pet. As part of this they will likely test the thyroid levels and determine if the thyroid is under performing.
Treatment is usually (not always) straight forward by supplementing the amount of thyroid in the diet with medication. Most dogs will take medication fairly easily and the dose is dependent on your consulting veterinarian. Most owners report that their dogs start to act like puppies again. They have more energy and want to be more active. The hair loss will take time to correct itself, and sometimes the hair doesn't grow back but in most cases it does. If the pet is overweight some measure should be taken to reduce the weight and this is made easier with the medication supplement. This helps to stimulate the metabolism and aid in weight loss. This along with the hair loss is something that takes time and patience, but can be done.