Holistic Treatment of Hypothyroidism in Dogs

holistic treatment of hypothyroidism in dogs boulder holistic vet angie krause

Hypothyroidism is the most common hormonal imbalance in dogs. It is beyond rare in cats. Some common symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs are hair loss, flaking skin, sluggishness, and weight gain. Hypothyroidism should always be diagnosed by a Veterinarian to find the cause of the hypothyroidism and to get appropriate medical treatments.

In addition to medication there are some holistic treatments which can hep your dog start feeling better. At the end of the article I will give you a few suggestions that might help prevent your current or future dogs from becoming hypothyroid in the first place.

What is the thyroid and what does it do

The thyroid gland sits on either side of the trachea right below the voice box. The pituitary gland (located in the brain) secretes a hormone TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) that tells the thyroid gland to secrete thyroid hormone, thyroxine.  This thyroid hormone is measured in the blood as T3 and T4. It is often important for your veterinarian to check all three of these lab values (T3, T4 and TSH).

What causes hypothyroidism in dogs?

The most common cause of hypothyroidism in dogs is caused by inflammation of the thyroid gland. It is important to note that this inflammation is commonly thought to be immune mediated. Immune mediated simply means that the body is mistakenly attacking itself. Some other causes of hypothyroidism, which should be ruled out by a Veterinarian, are:

  • shrinking of the thyroid gland
  • cancer and other illness
  • disease of the pituitary gland.

How can treat hypothyroidism holistically?

1. Thyroid supplementation. Yep, you need to do this. In some cases, you don’t have to do it forever. This is a really important component to restoring health. Your dog needs T4 to be healthy. The brand of hormone supplementation can be very important. Soloxine tends to work better compared with generic levothyroxine.

2. Rethink raw meat and bones diets. Carbohydrates are an important aspect of thyroid function. Wild dogs eat carbohydrates in the wild as most of their prey have ingested plants material.  When we feed dogs only raw meat and bones, they lack the proper amount of carbohydrate to have a properly functioning thyroid.

3. Iodine supplementation. This gets really tricky because giving too much or too little Iodine can worsen hypothyroidism. If you feed your dog a commercial diet, don’t supplement Iodine. If you feed a home prepared diet, consult a veterinarian for help on the right amounts of Iodine to help treat your dog’s hypothyroidism.

4. Avoid certain foods. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and kale should not be fed everyday. Occasional use is fine. Avoid soy, gluten and millet with hypothyroidism as well.

How to prevent Hypothyroidism in dogs?

Since hypothyroidism may have a genetic link, and is more common in certain breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Dachshunds, and English Bulldogs, it may not be possible to prevent it all together.  Some studies have shown high carbohydrate, commercial diets in dogs may be contributing to hypothyroidism;  these same diets should be swapped out for a holistic diet once your dog is diagnosed.

But why wait to feed your dog a holistic diet?

Aside from preventing, where possible, conditions like hypothyroidism it can help prevent other diseases like obesity, diabetes, and even some cancers.  There are supplements you and your veterinarian can consider adding to your dog’s current holistic diet like:

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids – These healthy fats found in fish oil, krill oil and green lipped mussel are excellent in preventing inflammation and therefore preventing disease. This type of fat is great at combating dry, flaky or itchy skin.
  • Probiotics – The bacteria in the gut of dogs plays a crucial role in inflammation and immune response. This is possibly one of the most important supplements you can give your dog.
  • Milk Thistle – This herb is a power house when it comes to cleansing the liver. With all the pollution in our environment and homes, this is a great supplement to help keep our dog’s livers happy and healthy.

Is your dog suffering from Hypothyroidism? Have you tried any supplements or holistic treatments? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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8 thoughts on “Holistic Treatment of Hypothyroidism in Dogs”

  1. Shaun and Khyber

    Dear Doc,
    My Wheaten Terror/ Red Heller will be 16 yo in August. Her under belly has turned black and her hair has thinned and has come back splotchy at best,
    She eats Pedigree Active Senior,nothing raw, and very seldom do i give her any un-cooked bones. Our vet has tried her on Applique thinking that it is an allergy, how ever that has had no effect.
    This frustrating because she is very young at heart and very active. she is prone to fatty deposits (lumps/bumps).

    1. Hi Sean,

      This sounds so frustrating!

      Have you visited a veterinary dermatologist to confirm that your girl is indeed struggling with allergies? They may also be able to help you identify whether they are environmental or food allergies. If that’s ruled out, a veterinary internal medicine specialist may also be an excellent resource and addition to your team!

      Will you keep us posted?

      Warmly,
      Claire

  2. Hi Dr Angie,
    I started giving my shih tzu a vegan homemade food, to which I add Vegedog. She loves it!
    Do you know the dosage of milk thistle for a 10pound dog?
    And for how long should I give it to her? Lifetime or just a short period and repeat later on?
    Regards,
    Thais

  3. Pit bull losing hair: I’ve been through so much with an older dog I found as a stray. Started out he was heartworm positive. Cured that (at no small expense!) He has ongoing issues with his eyes and after a year of treatments for possible infection it was finally diagnosed as dry eye. He has lost his eyesight now but I still put drops in his eyes daily, which seems to really sting. Now he has started to lose all the hair on his back with sores on the back of his neck. Bathing him twice a week with coal tar shampoo has been healing the sores and I rub a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil into his skin afterwards. I’ve started feeding him a large cup of yogurt daily: Greek yogurt with six different probiotics in it. I am SO tired of the vet visits, to say nothing of the expense. It literally feels like pouring money down the drain–at least all the “experimental” eye drops, etc. Just trying to make the last part of his life comfortable.

    1. Hi Deborah,

      Oh, goodness, I am so sorry that your sweet boy has gone through so much. Just reading this I know that he is so very lucky to have you. The love that he gets from you is healing, but I know that it feels so discouraging to have medical conditions go unanswered.

      Is there a holistic veterinarian in your area? I know that you have invested a lot of money already, but I wonder if an integrative or holistic approach on your pup’s team may feel refreshing and/or supportive?

      Big hugs to you!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  4. Can you give milk thistle to a dog diagnosed with hypothyroidism and also possible chf who is not on heart medicine. I would also like to give kelp. She has the hair missing from her tail and ears and top of her nose, but she is extremely thin. Her heart stopped twice after she had a wart removed from the top of her head. She was shaking during the entire procedure. The vet took blood from her neck after the procedure to test for her thyroid. She urinated and collapsed in my son’s arms. They did CPR and she came to, with 2 shots of medicine. Then, she collapsed again. They gave 2 more shots and did CPR and she came to. Then, she went into a coma. He told my children and I to call her name. We did over and over and over again. She woke up and tried to stand. She went into an oxygen tank for 6 hours and could breathe room air so we brought her home. They wanted us to go to a cardiologist that day, but we said no. We don’t think she would ever survive an EKG or the trip there. She is been home for 2 weeks and we are giving a very low dose of thyroid medicine for hypothyroidism. Her T3 and T4 were very low and her TSH was very high. We want to treat her naturally to gain her strength and get her to gain weight and be stronger. We have 3 appointments set with 3 different cardiologists, only 1 will even let us be there for the EKG, but we are strongly thinking to cancel all of them, at least postpone them. We are not sure we would even give the heart medication due to too many possible side effects. We have no clue what happened. We know she had severe dental disease when we rescued her, obviously abused and starved. She is a small poodle. We have had her for 7 years with no problems. The loss of hair started in the last year and she only has 2 teeth left. We are with her 24 hours a day and she perks up when she is with our other 2 dogs and cat. Otherwise, we are keeping her cool and quiet in bed. Thank God I work from home and homeschool my children. Her glucose was also above the range of normal in the blood that they took. Why did she collapse from the blood draw. They pulled her neck so far back to get to the jugular I almost passed out. It was just supposed to be freezing off the wart. I thought it would be a 5 minute procedure. She passed away right in front of us twice and then went into a coma. I am so devastated and find myself crying every day. During all of this, I was so stunned I could barely feel any emotions at all. I don’t feel we have a good vet. He prescribed 2 heart medications without even knowing what is wrong. He said she doesn’t have a murmur, she is not coughing and doesn’t have fluid in her. He also prescribed the thyroid medication twice the normal dose and it should be even lower due to her heart. I have researched so much. That dosage alone could have made her pass away. He sent us home with 2 rounds of those shots to give her if we need to do CPR and a 30 second lesson on how to do it. I am pretty sure this is not how a vet is supposed to act.

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Eileen,

      Thank you for sharing your pup’s experience! What a traumatic experience for you both, I cannot imagine how distressing that was and how weary you must feel after almost having lost her.

      There should be able to give milk thistle to your boy despite her diagnoses.

      Is there a veterinary cardiologist local to you that will offer at-home echocardiograms (ultrasounds of the heart)? This may be an excellent option to keep her stress levels down, while also getting a full diagnosis. This would hopefully keep the event less stressful, and provide you with a plan that feels comprehensive and healing to her and you both.

      Hugs,
      Claire

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