The thyroid is an important gland located on either side of the dog’s trachea. It is the taskmaster of all canine systems and plays a major role in metabolism, hormone regulation and several other important functions. The most common thyroid related disease in dogs is hypothyroidism. This endocrine disease is typically seen in middle aged and older dogs and is usually common in breeds like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Sheepdogs and Irish Setters. Today we will discuss some holistic treatment for canine hypothyroidism as well as diet, essential oils and homemade dog food that can help dogs suffering from hypothyroidism.
Causes of hypothyroidism in dogs
- In most cases, the disease is hereditary; it is passed on by parents to offspring. Hence it is very important to buy or adopt your pet from a reputed and ethical breeder.
- An attack on the pet’s immune system can also lead to this disease. Medications for treating parasites like fleas, ticks etc as well as an overuse of repeat vaccinations, chemical cleaners, and antibiotics can also cause canine hypothyroidism.
- Toxic buildup from environmental pollutants, household cleaners and preservative and chemical filled foods can also be the culprit.
- Thyroid diseases can also lead to poor thyroid function.
- Rarely, low iodine intake can lead to thyroid issues in pets.
- Certain skin conditions require corticosteroids for treatment. These drugs often interfere with thyroid gland. So, a young dog might start with a skin problem and develop a thyroid issue secondarily.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs
When the thyroid gland is working optimally in your pet, his body functions as a well oiled machine. An underactive or sluggish thyroid on the other hand results in suboptimal functions in the organs. In human beings having low thyroid, the metabolism is affected and most of these patients are overweight. That is usually not the case in dogs and not all hypothyroid canines are obese. Here are some signs of dog thyroid conditions:
- The reason why thyroid is difficult to diagnose is due to the fact that it mimics many other conditions.
- Some dogs become sluggish and lethargic. They also become mentally dull.
- Heart rate becomes slow.
- Some dogs gain weight.
- Recurrent infections are common in such pets
- Your dog might not tolerate the cold and will seek warm places
- Changes in skin and coat are some of the first signs of the disease- your dog might start shedding hair and develop dull, dry and brittle coat. There is patchy hair loss and itchy hotspots as well. The skin has a dry, yet greasy feeling which leaves a ‘doggy smell’ on your fingers.
- Dogs with poor thyroid function often display darker skin which is prone to severe itchiness.
- Your pet might lick, chew or rub its paws.
- Some dogs rub or brush their face or body against the sofa or carpets.
- Hair loss and red irritated skin is a common symptom of dog thyroid.
- Scratching ears, head and body incessantly is another sign.
Preventing thyroid problems
This is a controversial point but too many vaccines could encourage your dog’s immune system to react incorrectly. So always be wary of unnecessary vaccinations.
Use essential oils for dog thyroid
- Fennel oil- Food grade fennel oil can be diluted and administered internally. It aids the pineal gland and is beneficial for thyroid issues.
- Lavender oil- Calms dogs during sickness. Diffuse it in the pet’s sleeping area.
- Peppermint oil- Massage pet’s aching joints or add the oil to bath water to repel fleas naturally.
- Cedarwood oil- Repels fleas and parasites. Use it in place of chemical medicines which can disrupt hormones.
- Avoid chemical cleaners in the house. Use essential oils to clean floors and surfaces. Lemon essential oil, tea tree oil etc can eliminate germs and are safe to use around pets.
Food and exercise
A healthy, nutritious diet with the right balance of proteins, fats and vitamins can, to some extent, prevent this disease. Regular exercise reduces stress hormones and balances and regulates endocrine function. Homemade dog food for thyroid problems can also help prevent complications. Avoid foods like peanuts, spinach, radishes, peaches, strawberries and cabbages in large quantities.
A simple blood test of T4 and free T4 thyroid function can indicate whether your dog has hyper or hypothyroidism. Your vet can start medicine for hypothyroidism, but, in early stages, natural and holistic treatments do work. Every little bit helps. So take timely action and if needed, seek help from vets who give natural medicine. As soon as your dog’s thyroid issue is taken care of, his allergies will also disappear. Thyroid is a master gland and it can impact the functioning of several organs in the body.
Conventional dog hypothyroidism treatment
Conventional allopathic treatment for dog thyroid is hormone therapy every day for the rest of his life. This has many side effects, one of them being the fact that the thyroid gland shrinks. As it becomes smaller, it performs even less optimally than needed. So it becomes a vicious cycle. Over time, the drugs totally cause the gland to stop working.
Holistic treatment and home remedies for dog thyroid problems
Young dogs that have been recently diagnosed with thyroid do well with alternative therapies, homeopathy and holistic treatment. Many dogs that have been on drug therapy for a short while can be brought back to normal thyroid function with natural medicines. However, dogs who have been given hormones and conventional drugs may not fully recover but their health can be greatly improved and the drug dosage can even be reduced.
What to feed a dog with hypothyroidism
A rotating diet is usually recommended for dogs with thyroid issues. This way, no particular allergen can work on the body and cause an autoimmune response. For example, you can feed lamb or chicken with rice, carrots and parsley on day 1, venison and cooked potatoes on day 2 along with cooked kale and greens. For day 3, go for cooked oatmeal with salmon. You can also feed baby food and deli cuts of meats without preservatives. Avoid chemical and preservative laden commercial foods. Select organic produce. Avoid grain filled diets as far as possible. Hypothyroid dog raw diet is sometimes beneficial.
Caution- Vegetables like broccoli and cabbage can further depress thyroid function. So do not feed these veggies to dogs with hypothyroidism.
Providing vitamins and supplements
Dogs with thyroid problems are prone to allergies. Following supplements can help:
Allergic dogs use up their natural stores of vitamin C. So feed a supplement with at least 1000 mg of vitamin C two times a day. If your dog experiences diarrhea, reduce the dose and gradually increase it in smaller doses. Some dogs do well on 2000 mg of vitamin C; others can tolerate only up to 500 mg.
This antioxidant vitamin works well in combination with Vitamin C. For most breeds, feed up to 200-400 IU.
Selenium plays an important role in thyroid function metabolism and iodine regulation. Supplement your pets with plant enzymes to provide selenium.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids
Flaxseed oil, fish oil, olive oil, black currant seed oil, coconut oil, borage seed oil etc are good sources of healthy fats. Depending on your pets body weight, feed between 1 tsp to 1 tbsp of flaxseed oil which is readily available in pet stores.
COQ10, Zinc and quercetin
These supplements are very beneficial for skin health and immunity. Feed up to 30 mg of COQ10, 10 mg of zinc picolinate and Quercetin to prevent allergic reactions.
Vitamin B12, Niacin, L-tyrosine, Iodine and Copper
These support thyroid metabolism. Use supplements at ¼ or half the human dosage.
Handling skin allergies in dog thyroid patients
- Brew some green tea or black tea and refrigerate it. Apply the cooled brew on dog’s itchy skin.
- You can also massage some calendula ointment or Aloe Vera gel on the hotspots for relief from itch.
- Witch hazel is a natural remedy to stop itching.
- Baking soda works wonders. Make a paste with water and apply liberally on affected areas. You can also make a spray of baking soda and water and spray it on itchy areas from time to time.
- Grind up some colloidal oatmeal and make a paste or poultice. Apply to affected regions.
- Pound a few cabbage leaves until the juice oozes out. Apply the leaf on inflamed areas. This will draw out the inflammation and provide much needed relief to your pet.
- Preparation H cream which is used for hemorrhoids is an effective remedy for itchy, inflamed skin allergies.
Herbal remedies for dog thyroid issues
Astragalus and Siberian ginseng
Both remedies provide energy and vitality to sluggish or lethargic dogs. Tinctures of both medicines are available in health stores. Add a few drops to pet’s water bowl.
Administer ¼ tsp daily to improve blood circulation.
Oregon Grape root
This is a strong, bitter herb that stimulates liver and thyroid gland. It is especially recommended by Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners. Use 15 drops diluted in 1 ounce of spring water and administer this twice a day.
Homeopathic thyroid remedies in canines
Give this medicine in its 6th potency, 1-3 pellets 2 times a day to kick start sluggish thyroid.
This is for dogs with red, itchy skin and who cannot withstand extreme temperatures. Dose-twice daily for one week.
Arsenicum Album 30C
This remedy is for dogs with dry, flaky, lusterless coat and for those that cannot withstand cold and always seek warmth. They also show extreme thirst. Dose-twice daily for one week.
Dog hyperthyroidism treatment works in early stages of the disease. So be proactive and seek help from vets known to give holistic and natural medicines.