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Thyroid Problems in Dogs and Cats

Thyroid Problems in Dogs and Cats
Herbal nutrition to help address symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism in dogs and cats.
Pet supplements to help treat hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism in dogs and cats.

The endocrine system interacts with many organs and bodily systems, and the adrenal and thyroid glands plays a major role in providing critical trace nutrient support to all glands and tissue, and the adrenals can become stressed and fatigued, also affecting the liver, duodenum, and kidneys, requiring a nutritional correction.

The thyroid gland consists of two small lobes shaped like butterflies with one each side of the windpipe (trachea) located in the neck. This gland produces thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The primary function of these hormones regulates and maintains your pet’s metabolic rate which in turn affects their overall health and wellness. 

Another hormone called the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is produced by the pituitary gland and controls the production of the thyroid hormones. If the thyroid does not function properly, it will likely show negatively in your pet’s body weight, heart rate, skin and coat, digestive and reproductive health.

There are two types of thyroid disorders: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism:


Hypothyroidism mostly affects dogs and occasionally occurs in cats. When hypothyroidism occurs, the thyroid gland is considered under active because insufficient thyroid hormones are produced. The animal body slows down with hypothyroidism. The exact cause of hypothyroidism is unknown but it may be caused by an auto-immune response in which a dog's or cat's immune system kills thyroid cell glands. Dogs that usually suffer from recurring skin problems have hypothyroidism.

The common symptoms and signs of hypothyroidism include:

Weight gain



Low energy levels

Dry skin or hair loss


Slow heart rate


Intolerance to cold

High blood cholesterol




Behavioral changes




Unfocused behavior

Passive behavior 

Certain dog breeds seem to be more predisposed to hypothyroidism than others. This disorder typically affects mid to large size breeds such as Dobermans, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, Cocker Spaniels and Airedale Terriers.

Hypothyroidism usually develops in dogs between the ages of 4 and 10 years old. Female unspayed dogs tend to be affected more, although it occurs in both males and females. There is no cure for hypothyroidism but with supplements and treatment, pets can continue to enjoy good quality of life.

The diagnosis of a hypothyroidism is based on the symptoms, thorough physical examination and review of your pet’s medical history. Certain tests such as a Baseline T4 Test, Baseline T3 Test, or TSH Stimulation Test will be performed if hypothyroidism is suspected. Your vet will choose the test most suited for your dog’s symptoms. Generally, the TSH Stimulation Test will reveal whether your dog has a low T4 or T3 level.


Hyperthyroidism is an endocrine disorder that commonly affects animals. The thyroid is a gland that consists of two small lobes shaped like butterflies with one each side of the windpipe (trachea) located in the neck.

When hyperthyroidism occurs, the thyroid gland is overactive and produces too much thyroid hormones, speeding up metabolism. As a result, excess cortisol builds in the blood for an extended period of time. In normal amounts, cortisol helps the body perform a number of important functions including converting fat into energy, maintaining immune system function, and responding to stress. In excess, cortisol becomes destructive.

The thyroid produces hormones, including thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The primary function of these hormones is to regulate and maintain your pet’s metabolic rate, which in turn affects their overall health and wellbeing. Another hormone called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which is produced by the pituitary gland, controls the production of the thyroid hormones.

When the thyroid gland is overactive, several parts of the body may not function properly, and your pet may experience drastic weight loss, appetite increase, an elevated heart rate, increased activity or poor skin and coat condition.

Hyperthyroidism typically affects middle-aged to old cats (between 4 and 22 years of age). Hyperthyroidism in dogs is rare. It is caused by a benign increase in the number of thyroid cells produced but immunological, environmental and nutritional factors may also contribute to this disorder.

Behavioral changes may also occur and include anxiety, nervousness, restlessness, depression, hypersensitivity and hyperactivity, stress as well as being unfocused or passive.

The common symptoms and signs of hyperthyroidism include:

Weight loss even with an increased appetite



Intolerance to heat

Dull, dry or oily coat with excessive shedding

Rapid/fast breathing

Increased water consumption accompanied by urination

Increased or decreased activity


Helpful suggestions:

Feed your pet a natural or raw and well balanced diet that contains all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients, free of corn, wheat and soy, preservatives, colorants and inferior protein source. 

Ensure that your pet gets regular exercise.

Boost your dog or cat’s immune system with natural immune-boosting supplements.

Take your pet to the vet for annual check-ups and monitor any abnormal physical and behavioral changes.

If your pet suffers from a thyroid problem, become your pet's health advocate by becoming as knowledgeable as possible about this health problem and by keeping a health journal to better share changes and updates with your veterinaian.

Herbal Nutrition - (listed in order of relevance and recommendation by holistic vets  - human grade meets/exceeds highest safety criteria for pets)

Herbal nurition has been used for millennia to help promote and maintain adrenal health in your animal, may help to improve thyroid functioning and symptoms associated with thyroid problems, may help balance an overactive thyroid by providing, may help provide hormonal balance, may soothe the thyroid, heart & endocrine systems, adaptogen content may help regulate TSH, T3 and T4 hormone production, may help maintain normal corticosteroid, fluid and electrolyte levels, may help strengthen your pet’s immune, may help maintain body temperature, metabolism, fertility, and growth and may help support the endocrine system and normal thyroid function.

I AM A ROCK STAR - (learn more) may nutritionally help support and nourish the endocrine system; help support adrenal and thyroid gland health and response to stress and metabolic demand, help support proper HPA (Hypothalmic Pituitary and Adrenal) gland function, help support glandular ability to rebuild and regenerate, help promote hormonal balance, help regulate stress on liver, kidney and digestive functions by reducing thirst and excessive elimination, may help promote cognitive function and memory performance, may help balance blood sugar levels, may lend support to the pancreas in cases of dysfunction; for natural energy in all life stages of pets, but especially adult, senior and convalescing dogs and cats, may help increase muscle use, ability and stamina, may help provide anti-inflammatory and immune support, and may help maintain overall healthy adrenal, central nervous, digestive, immune and reproductive systems due to tonic, natural plant chemical functions.

Dog & Cat Kryptonite– (learn more) helps support hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) function, helps enable the body to respond normally to stress and metabolic demands while supporting the glands' ability to rebuild and regenerate, may help support healthy energy levels and vitality, helps promote cognitive (brain) function and memory performance and contains critical trace nutrients and antioxidants which may be important preventatives for cognitive decline; may be especially useful for lethargic, aging or convalescing animals due to its amino acid and protein converting phytochemical content, may help regulate the organs which secrete hormones, including the pituitary, parotid, thyroid and adrenal glands, the pancreas, and the testes; may stimulate the hypothalamus and thyroid glands when underperforming; may help support overall systemic endocrine function, including its impact on the central nervous, digestive, immune and reproductive systems; for its support of cognitive (brain) function, particularly in degenerative conditions.

Dogs Love Maca – (learn more) is a highly specialized super food and adaptogenic herb that may help identify metabolic, environmental, emotional and oxidative stress in your pet (may be used for dogs and cats) and may nutritionally help restore whole body balance in cases of dysfunction; used holistically to help address both Cushing's and Addison's as well as hypothyroidism due to its adaptogenic plant actions to bring gland and hormone production into balance; nutritive, contains atural plant phytochemicals which may help nourish gland health, support proper hormonal response throughout the body, may help counteract adrenal fatigue and may be particularly useful in supporting TSH, T3 and T4 hormone production; may encourage cellular health throughout the body related to gland health; may help regulate stress response and helps support proper metabolic rates, along with cognitive, cardiovascular and reproductive support; tonic in nature, may help tone and strengthen all body systems to help achieve optimal wellness, particularly as it relates to building and maintaining energy, focus and overall system balance.

CATS LOVE SUMA (learn more) is a whole food organic meal topper, to help “top off” your cat's nutrition, formulated to help bring all body systems into balance; may help optimize health; may help identify metabolic, environment, emotional and oxidative stress in your cat; may help regulate gland function, especially HPA function, affecting the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands; may also provide nutritional support to the thyroid and parotid glands; may help address nutritional deficiencies and exert a rejuvenating and restorative effect, with special emphasis placed on endocrine, nervous, digestive, cardiovascular, immune and reproductive system functions; may help promote proper nutrient assimilation, balanced immunity as well as may help foster resistance to infection and disease. Suma may positively affect your cat’s energy, vitality and endurance and may help optimize overall wellness.

I Feel Good –  (learn more) contains plant based adaptogens and is a potent plant-based anti-viral, which helps nutritionally tone the animal body, helps boost or balance immunity as needed, including soothing an over-stimulated immune system or boosting an under- performing immune system, helps to reduce all forms of system-wise metabolic and oxidative stress that undermine immunity; helps support water regulation and fluid balance in the body; helps reduce all types of inflammation, provides dermal support and growth of healthy cells and tissues in the body’s defense mechanism, reduces the histamine trigger for contact allergies, seasonal and chronic allergens, pathogens, skin rashes, infections, hot spots, inflammation, swelling, hair loss, itching and geriatria (dull coat, lethargy) and fever; may be an important anti-viral adjunctive in cases of Herpes virus; may help alleviate symptoms for all types of arthritis, including Degenerative Joint Disease, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and symptoms associated with rheumatism, including pain, strains, injuries, muscle pain, swelling and lack of mobilityreduces all types of inflammation, particularly from the heart to brain; as a gastrotonic to support stomach health; contains prebiotics and probiotics useful in balancing digestive health and function plus much more. Recognized as one of the most important medicinal plants in the world, particularly related to supporting balanced immunity and limiting inflammation and inflammatory conditions.

Yelp for Kelp - (learn more) provides critical vitamins, amino and fatty acids and trace macro and micronutrient support for the endocrine system, to energize the body, for building and toning enzymes, tissues, hormones and bones, for enhancing natural cleansing and detoxification, to help nutritionally support a balanced immune system; to help support healthy skin and coat;  to help balance digestion; as an osteoporosis preventative, to promote immunity and for metabolic disorders, including the thyroid gland and other glands and tissues that affect the thyroid, for thyroid disorders, to cleanse the lymphatic system, to maintain healthy levels of TSH, T3 and T4, and for metabolic disorders. 

Conventional Remedies:

The diagnosis of a thyroid problem is based on the symptoms, thorough physical examination and review of your pet’s medical history. Certain tests such as a Baseline T4 Test, Baseline T3 Test, or TSH Stimulation Test will be performed if hypothyroidism is suspected. Your vet will choose the test most suited for your dog’s symptoms.

Generally, the TSH Stimulation Test will reveal whether your dog has a low T4 or T3 level. If hyperthyroidism is suspected, the diagnosis is based on the symptoms presented, enlarged thyroid gland (large enough that it can be felt), and high T4 levels.

Tests such as a CBC, serum chemistry, and urinalysis are performed if symptoms of other diseases such as kidney failure, liver disease, diabetes mellitus or heart disease are present with hyperthyroidism. In addition, tests such as the T3 suppression test, measurement of free T4 and thyrotropin-releasing hormone stimulation test may also be performed to confirm the diagnosis of hyperthyroidism.

Your vet may recommend the following standard treatments for hyperthyroidism in felines and these include radioactive iodine (I-131), anti-thyroid medication such as methimazole (tapazole) or surgery (thyroidectomy). These treatments have some adverse side effects such as liver damage, anemia, hair loss and lethargy, and cats with this problem should be kept away from pregnant women and children.

Treatment of hypothyroidism in dogs involves a daily dose of synthetic T4 hormone known as thyroxine (levothyroxine). Thereafter, follow-up blood tests will be taken in about six weeks to ascertain whether there is any improvement. This is life-long therapy but dogs usually go on to enjoy good health for the rest of their lives.



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