Over the past few months I have noticed my dog has gained quite a few pounds. What can I do to help him lose weight?
In last week’s article we discussed obesity in dogs, suggesting that just as with people, the leading causes of obesity include genetics and diet. A common disease that can also result in obesity is called hypothyroidism.
The thyroid gland is one the most important glands in the body. The thyroid gland, located in the neck near the windpipe, regulates the body’s metabolic rate. If the thyroid is underactive, the metabolism slows down which may lead to weight gain. The
cause of hypothyroidism for the most part is not known. Certainly genetics play a major part in diseases as we see certain breeds like retrievers diagnosed with hypothyroidism far more frequently than other breeds.
When the metabolic rate does slow down, virtually every organ in the body is affected. Some of the symptoms that we in see hypothyroid cases include weight gain without an increase in appetite, lethargy, cold intolerance, flaking dry skin and dull hair with excessive shedding that leads to very thin to nearly bald areas in the fur.
Testing for hypothyroidism can include a simple blood test called a T4. A more indepth thyroid profile can be sent to a laboratory at Michigan State University. This profile is more likely to give a definitive diagnosis, and can include a comment from an endocrinologist, which can assist your veterinarian in treatment recommendations.
The treatment for hypothyroid disease is fairly simple and utilizes a replacement hormone in the form of a tablet. The medication comes in a chewable form and is administered twice daily. Most owners will notice changes in their pet’s condition within a month of starting treatment.
Thomas Schaeberle, VMD