If your pup begins putting on the pounds, it may not just be because he is getting old and lazy. Hypothyroidism, a general term that describes several types of thyroid dysfunction, is a common affliction among dogs. There are several signs and symptoms of thyroid problems to watch out for.
The thyroid is a gland located near the base of your dog's throat. It produces hormones that regulate metabolic activity and other important functions throughout his body. Dogs suffering from hypothyroidism will begin to gain weight at an increased rate, although it may not be noticeable at first. During later stages of this disorder, the dog's skin will become puffy and inflated from fluid gain, according to the Golden Retriever Club of America.
Thinning and loss of hair is another common symptom of low thyroid activity in dogs, cats and other animals. In some cases, the shedding is so severe that your dog may develop bald patches or his skin may become clearly visible beneath his fur. Hair loss due to thyroid dysfunction tends to occur on your dog's body, but does not often affect his head or legs, according to the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Hair loss on and around the tail is often the most pronounced and is more apparent than thinning hair elsewhere.
A decrease in metabolic rate is accompanied by a diminished desire for physical activity. A dog suffering from thyroid problems will rarely act energetic or excited. He may also sleep more than usual and frequently seek out warm places to lay down. In rare cases, usually those involving complete thyroid shutdown, the dog may lapse into a coma-like state and become unresponsive.
There are a handful of other symptoms that can signal a thyroid problem, although they are not present in every case. Your dog may shake or limp periodically if he has thyroid issues. He may also have trouble eating, swallowing and digesting food. He may regurgitate food after meals and is more likely to choke as he eats. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.