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Natural Approaches to Thyroid Care for your Pet

Jul 31, 2014 07:29PM ● By Lee De Barriault

Natural Approaches to Thyroid Care for your Pet

by Lee De Barriault

Just like people, our pets are also susceptible to thyroid disease. The thyroid gland produces hormones that affect the body’s metabolism, growth and development. The two most important hormones are tetraiodothyrosine (thyroxine-T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).

There are two conditions caused by a dysfunctional thyroid: hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Cats develop hyperthyroidism. The signs of hyperthyroidism are loss of weight for no reason despite having a big appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and restlessness, excessive water drinking, and larger than normal urine production. In severe cases, high blood pressure and heart failure are a problem.

Hyperthyroidism results from a tumor in the thyroid gland causing an overproduction of thyroid hormones (mainly T4). In over 97% of all cases this tumor is a benign (non-cancerous) adenoma. Hyperthyroidism is often seen in cats over 10 years old. A special blood test (T4) that measures thyroxine levels is conducted to see if the thyroid levels are normal (between .08-5.0 micrograms/deciliter).  Conventional treatment for cats includes three options:  drug treatment with Tapazole (methimazole), surgical treatment (removal of thyroid gland), or radio-active iodine treatment (preferred method). Curing cats with this method involves a simple subcutaneous injection under the skin of a radioactive isotope. While it sounds quite drastic, it may be the safest treatment for hyperthyroid cats.

Hypothyroidism, is the most common endocrine disease of dogs usually seen in middle aged to older dogs. This disease occurs in two ways: autoimmune thyroiditis which happens when the dog’s body forms antibodies against its own thyroid gland causing increased production of thyroxine (T4) eventually depleting the thyroid gland or the dog’s body simply produces less thyroid hormone over time. Signs of hypothyroidism include lethargy, weight gain, hair loss, seborrhea and chronic skin infections. Thyroid testing should always be part of the clinical work up for any sick dog. Treatment for dogs involves the use of glandular thyroid supplements with or without a synthetic medication. Current research supports the concept that glandular supplements contain active substances that can exert physiologic effects.

The signs of hyperthyroidism are loss of weight for no reason despite having a big appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and restlessnes, excessive water dringinkm and larger than normal urine production.

Dr. Martin Goldstein, D.V.M., considered by many to be America’s foremost Integrative Veterinarian, states in his book, The Nature of Animal Healing, that he has had success treating hyperthyroidism metabolically with liver and adrenal supplements. For cats, he says the homeopathic remedy lophophytoum leandri at low potencies can be helpful and he sometimes adds Thyro Drops. If the condition is persistent, he may also add a little Tapazole at one-quarter to one-eighth of the recommended dose and monitor well. If that does not work, then he opts for conventional surgery to remove the thyroid gland. For dogs, Dr. Goldstein prefers a natural thyroid supplement USP Thyroid supported by Thytrophin. He also advises that sometimes the thyroid may seem imbalanced but it is actually fine; the problem gland is either the pituitary gland in the brain or hypothalamus, both of which coordinate thyroid activity. When using standard supplements for both of these glands to address those imbalances, the hypothyroidism subsides.

There are supplements available, including glandulars, which are a source of active lipids and steroids that may be of benefit to pets. Eastern and western Ayurvedic remedies, which include astragalus, bugleweed, lemon balm, nettles, licorice and ginseng, are also used in thyroid support tinctures. In addition, using homeopathic remedies may help avoid many of the risks and side effects associated with more traditional approaches. It is important to consult with your holistic veterinarian to ensure the proper use of alternative remedies for thyroid disease and your pets.

Lee De Barriault is the owner of Natural Pet Specialty Shop located at 398 North Harbor City Blvd, in Melbourne.  For more information, call 321-259-3005 or visit

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