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.