Hypothyroidism is a health condition that is caused due to an underactive thyroid gland; which results in decreased production levels of the thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland is located in the cat's neck below the larynx and is a small butterfly shaped organ. The thyroid gland is responsible for the productions of two hormones in your cat, T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine), which effects the metabolic rate of the body.
The thyroxine hormone T4 is very import to the bodily function of a cat. It is required for food metabolism, growth, heart function, cognitive function, maintenance of muscle and bone and immune function.
Surgical removal or destruction (as a result of the treatment for Hyperthyroidism, use of radioiodine or antithyroid drugs) of the thyroid gland is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in cats. Hypothyroidism in cats is very rare and when it does occur it is due to the thyroid gland itself.
The symptoms and signs can vary in pets with hypothyroidism as the deficiency of the hormones affects the function of the body and all the organs. Cats that may develop the condition at a young age or ones that are born with it may often be unusually small and may also show sign of mental dullness, low heart rate, lethargy, and even constipation. When the cause is triggered due to surgical removal or destruction of the gland the pet may often exhibit one or more signs of the following symptoms.
- Obesity with out an appetite increase
- Coat and skin changes are most common- excessive shedding, dry skin, infections
- Lethargy - lack of interest in walks, exercise and play
- Intolerance to cold - looking to lie in a warm place
- Depression and aggressive behavior
- Slow heart rate
Pets with hypothyroidism will need treatment for life. If you suspect that you cat may have hypothyroidism a vet visit is highly recommended. You vet will be able to conduct the required blood work to determine and diagnose the disease. Common allopathic treatment uses the drug thyroxine a synthetic hormone. It should be noted that overtime the thyroid gland will completely stop producing the hormone as glands feedback system will indicate that it does not need to produce the hormone anymore due to the use of the synthetic hormone.
The holistic approach is to support the body and help it produce the thyroid hormone using herbs and diet. Dietary supplements such as Thyro UP can be used to support the body if your pet if diagnosed with hypothyroidism; it can also be used as a preventative supplement for those cat that may be predisposed to the condition.
Never attempt to diagnose your cat on our own. Your vet will be able to perform the required test and make the necessary suggestion. Vegetable such as broccoli and cabbage should not be fed in large quantities to pets with hypothyroidism as it can reduce the production of the thyroid hormone.