Pit Bull Chat Forum

Welcome to Pit Bull Chat!

We are a diverse group of Pit Bull enthusiasts devoted to the preservation of the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Our educational and informational discussion forum about the American Pit Bull Terrier and all other bull breeds is a venue for members to discuss topics, share ideas and come together with the common goal to preserve and promote our canine breed of choice.

Here you will find discussions on topics concerning health, training, events, rescue, breed specific legislation and history. We are the premier forum for America’s dog, The American Pit Bull Terrier.

We welcome you and invite you to join our family.

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our free community, you will have access to post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload content and access many other features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join our community today!

If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact us

  • Welcome back!

    We decided to spruce things up and fix some things under the hood. If you notice any issues, feel free to contact us as we're sure there are a few things here or there that we might have missed in our upgrade.

Canine Hypothyroidism

No one

Big Dog
What is the thyroid gland, and what does it do?

The thyroid gland is one of the most important glands in the body. It is located in the neck near the trachea and is composed of two lobes, one on each side of the trachea (windpipe). This gland is controlled by the body's master gland, the pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain.

The thyroid gland regulates the rate of metabolism. If it is hyperfunctional, metabolism speeds up. If it is less functional than normal, metabolism slows down. The latter is the basis for the clinical signs of hypothyroidism.

What causes hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is almost always caused by one of two diseases: lymphocytic thyroiditis or idiopathic thyroid gland atrophy. The former disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism and is thought to be an immune-mediated disease. This means that the immune system decides that the thyroid is abnormal or foreign and attacks it. It is not known why the immune system does this. Idiopathic thyroid gland atrophy is also poorly understood. Normal thyroid tissue is replaced by fat tissue in what is considered a degenerative disease.

These two causes of hypothyroidism account for more than 95% of the cases. The other five percent are due to uncommon diseases, including cancer of the thyroid gland.

What are the clinical signs?

When the rate of metabolism slows down, virtually every organ in the body is affected in some manner. Most affected dogs have one or more of several "typical" physical and/or chemical abnormalities. These include:

Weight gain without an increase in appetite
Lethargy and lack of desire to exercise
Cold intolerance (gets cold easily)
Dry hair coat with excessive shedding
Very thin hair coat to near baldness
Increased pigmentation in the skin
Increased susceptibility to skin and ear infections
Failure to regrow hair after clipping or shaving
High blood cholesterol
Some dogs also have other abnormalities that are not the typical findings. These include:

Thickening of the facial skin so they have a "tragic facial expression"
Abnormal function of nerves causing non-painful lameness, dragging of feet, incoordination, and a head tilt
Loss of libido and infertility in intact males
Lack of heat periods, infertility, and abortion in females
Fat deposits in the corneas of the eyes
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca ("dry eye" due to very thick tears)
How is it diagnosed?

The most common test is for the T4 level. This is a measurement of the main thyroid hormone in a blood sample. If it is below normal and the correct clinical signs are present, the test is meaningful. However, testing for the T4 level can be misleading because some dogs that are not hypothyroid may have subnormal levels. This happens when another disease is present or when certain drugs are given.

If hypothyroidism is suspected but the T4 is normal, other tests can be performed. These are more expensive so they are not used as first line tests.

Can it be treated?

Hypothyroidism is treatable but not curable. It is treated with oral administration of a thyroid replacement hormone. This drug must be given for the rest of the dog's life.

How is the proper dose determined?

There is a standard dose that is used initially; it is based on the dog's weight. However, after about one month of treatment, further testing is done to verify that the thyroid hormone levels are normal. In some dogs, the dose will need to be further adjusted every 6-12 months.

What happens if the medication is overdosed?

Signs of hyperthyroidism can be caused. These include hyperactivity, lack of sleep, weight loss, and an increase in water consumption. If any of these occur, notify us so that a proper adjustment can be made.