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Hypothyroidism or a low functioning thyroid gland is the most common endocrine disease in dogs.

Symptoms include:

  • Weight gain
  • lethargy
  • fur loss, especially on the tail (rat-tail)
  • thinning haircoat
  • seborrhea, dry, flaky skin
  • “sad” facial expression
  • heat seeking
  • mental dullness
  • exercise intolerant

It is more common in medium to large breed dogs, although any dog can be affected.

Diagnosis is based on clinical signs, physical exam results and the results of a full thyroid panel.  A single thyroid hormone alone is not a valid marker of true hypothyroidism.

Once diagnosed the disease is managed with a synthetic thyroid hormone given orally usually twice a day.  It may takes several months for the sign of hypothyroidism to resolve.

Blood work every 6 months is needed to monitor the medication dosage and response to treatment.

If you are concerned that your dog may have a thyroid problem, ask one of our veterinarians to discuss the possibility further.