The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Hypothyroidism is a Condition That Can Affect Cats and Lead to an Array of Serious Health Issues

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hypothyroidism is a Condition That Can Affect Cats and Lead to an Array of Serious Health Issues

Detecting, Diagnosing, and Treating Underactive Thyroid Low thyroid hormone, or hypothyroidism (not to be confused with hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid), is a condition that can affect cats and lead to an array of serious health issues if it goes untreated. Though hypothyroidism is relatively rare in cats and affects many key aspects of a cat’s metabolism, it is usually manageable.

Low levels of hormones produced by the thyroid are usually the result of treatment for a far more common condition, hyperthyroidism. As such, most cases can be treated by simply adjusting the treatment regimen for the original condition so that the cat is producing thyroid hormones within the normal range.

Other causes of this condition include a reaction to radioactive iodine treatment, an iodine deficiency in the diet of the cat, a side effect of taking methimazole that results in the reduced production of thyroxine, the removal of either or both of the cat’s thyroid glands, a thyroid tumor or a tumor in the immediate area of the thyroid, and a variety of other autoimmune diseases.

Symptoms of Feline Thyroid Hormone Deficiency

Producing insufficient levels of thyroid hormones can have various effects throughout a cat’s metabolism, and many of these effects are undetectable at home. Symptoms of thyroid hormone deficiency in cats can include:
  • A thinning of the coat
  • General muscle weakness
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain due to slowed metabolism
  • Lethargy
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale gums
  • Hypothermia
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin and dandruff
Diagnosis of Thyroid Hormone Deficiency in Cats

In most cases, diagnosing low thyroid hormone levels is as simple as running a few tests to determine the hormone levels in the blood. However, in some cases a veterinarian will need to perform a variety of other tests in order to arrive at a conclusive diagnosis. These tests can include:
  • A urinalysis
  • Blood tests, sometimes including a complete blood count
  • Chest x-rays or abdominal x-rays
Treating Thyroid Hormone Deficiency in Your Cat
Treatment for this condition in cats usually depends upon what the vet determines to be the underlying cause. As mentioned above, the overwhelming majority of hypothyroidism in cats is caused by treatment for hyperthyroid, in which case a simple adjustment of medication generally clears up the issue. In cats where other underlying causes are to blame, treatment for the condition can vary from surgery to remove tumors, to supplemental thyroid hormones.

If the cat has had their thyroid glands removed, then treatment will be needed for the remainder of the cat’s life. Medication typically has a positive effect on the condition following the first six weeks of treatment, but ongoing monitoring of the condition may be required for the life of the cat.

Prognosis for Cats Dealing With Thyroid Issues
Hypothyroidism can be prevented in many cases where treatment for hyperthyroidism is the cause. If the cat is seen regularly and has its hormone levels monitored, adjustment of medication can be completed proactively. In other cases, where the thyroid glands have been removed or are no longer functioning, medication and monitoring can allow for the cat to live a normal life.


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