Can Pets Have Thyroid Issues as Well?

Whether you are a canine lover or a feline fan, you need to know that your pet is at risk of developing thyroid disorders – just like you. If your pet is looking or has been acting weird lately, then make sure to read on to learn more about the different thyroid issues that can affect your beloved pet.

Thyroid Disease in Dogs

Just like humans, dogs possess a thyroid gland – which is located along the neck. It is under the control of the master gland otherwise known as the pituitary gland.

Similarly, a dog’s thyroid gland produces thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3), which regulates the body’s use of energy, as well as its response to other hormones. and other essential hormones.The thyroid gland releases calcitonin as well – a hormone essential for calcium control in the dog’s body.

If the aforementioned hormones are produced in either little or excessive amounts, the dog can suffer from a variety of metabolic problems. Examples include:


Similar to the human condition, hypothyroidism in dogs is marked by a slowed metabolism. It occurs due to the insufficient amount of hormones secreted by the thyroid gland.

Primary hypothyroidism in dogs, as stated in the case study of McKeown, is mostly caused by the destruction of the thyroid gland, as in the cases of idiopathic atrophy, lymphocytic thyroiditis, or neoplastic destruction. Secondary hypothyroidism, on the other hand, occurs due to the reduced secretion of Thyroid-Stimulating hormone by the pituitary gland.

The prevalence of hypothyroidism is much higher in the following:

  • Middle-aged dogs of 4 to 10 years
  • Medium to large-sized canines such as the Doberman Pinscher, Miniature Schnauzer, Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund, Airedale Terrier, Golden Retriever, and Irish Setter
  • Neutered males and spayed female dogs 

The common symptoms of hypothyroidism are the following:

  • Dull and thin coat, flaky skin
  • Hair thinning, hair loss, or increased shedding
  • Obesity, weight gain sans appetite changes
  • Lethargy
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Muscle loss
  • Cold intolerance
  • Mental bluntness
  • Reproductive changes 
  • Toenail and ear infections
  • Possible seizures
  • Possible heart and blood vessel disorders

Goiter, or thyroid enlargement, can manifest as a symptom of congenital hypothyroidism, especially in breeds such as that of the Toy Fox Terrier. This swelling, which commonly occurs in mammals, develops due to a low-iodine diet or one that is rich in goitrogens (food that affects thyroid functioning.) Due to the commercial diets of dogs, goiter development can be attributed to genetic problems or the side-effect of the antibiotic trimethoprim-sulfa.

A more serious thyroid condition which is common in the Golden Retriever, Beagle, Doberman Pinscher, and Akita is auto-immune thyroiditis. In this condition, the immune system destroys the thyroid gland, resulting in the primary symptom of Hypothyroidism . While it is a disease by itself, auto-immune thyroiditis can be a symptom of a graver malady, such as that of panendocrinopathy or systemic lupus erythematosus. 


Hyperthyroidism symptoms in dogs can be quite similar to other conditions, which makes diagnosing a challenge for veterinary professionals. Since it is one of the most over-identified illnesses in dogs, veterinarians will base their findings not only on medical history and clinical symptoms, but on laboratory results as well.

Expect your vet to order for a T4 concentration blood test, which is done to gauge your dog’s thyroid levels. Other pertinent blood exams, such as that of T3 and TSH, might be requested by the vet as well. 


A sub-normal level of T4, accompanied by the classical signs mentioned above, are the minimum requirements start hormone treatment with Levothyroxine or L-thyroxine. This synthetic drug is meant to make up for your dog’s low hormone levels.

The dosage will depend on your pet’s weight and thyroid levels, but it is usually taken daily for the remainder of your dog’s life. Results usually manifest in 1-2 months, with the vet making dosage adjustments as needed by the canine. Should the treatment fail, a possible underlying medical condition will be taken into consideration and a new form of treatment might be warranted. 


Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland secretes excessive amounts of hormones. As a result, your dog’s metabolism is set to overdrive. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Increased appetite and thirst
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Increased excitability
  • Excessive urination, increased amount of stool
  • Thyroid gland enlargement
  • Breathing difficulties (dyspnea)
  • Heart problems such as murmurs, fast heart rate, enlarged heart (cardiomegaly), and congestive heart failure

The malignant condition called thyroid carcinoma is the primary reason why some dogs develop hyperthyroidism. This neoplastic growth is common in older dogs and in both sexes, however Golden Retrievers, Beagles, and Boxers seem to be at higher risk of developing the said condition.

Thyroid cancer proliferation can be quite rapid, with the study of Bezzola stating that it can easily invade nearby tissues, such as the esophagus, trachea, jugular vein, and larynx. As such, prognosis is dependent on the tumor size, cancer stage, and metastatic activity.


Apart from physical examination and a comprehensive medical history, lab exams such as complete blood count (CBC), blood chemistry, and urinalysis will be obtained by the physician. A working consideration for thyroid carcinoma might warrant fine needle aspiration biopsy as well.


Several options are available for dogs with hyperthyroidism due to cancer. The treatment of choice is the surgical removal of the tumor, which is known to prolong life expectancy. Another option is which is done in conjunction with surgery is radioactive iodine therapy, which works by controlling thyroid function and shrinking tumor size.

External beam radiation, on the other hand, is recommended for dogs with cancer that has metastasized to nearby structures. The treatment is delivered through a device such as a linear accelerator or a cobalt therapy machine.

Chemotherapy with the use of vincristine, cyclophosphamide, and doxorubicin can be done as well. According to the study of Mayer and MacDonald, this treatment is best for dogs with large inoperable tumors, or those with metastatic thyroid cancer.

Thyroid Disease in Cats

Similar to canines, felines have a thyroid gland which produces the hormones T3 and T4. Both are essential for the metabolic functions within a cat’s body.


As the most common gland condition in cats, hyperthyroidism is characterized by an increased amount of the hormone T4 in circulation. It can occur in any gender or breed, although it is more common in non-purebreds and older felines, usually manifesting at age 12 to 13.

Feline hyperthyroidism is usually caused by a thyroid adenoma, a benign mass that affects both thyroid glands. However, a study by Kohler et al contends that consumption of moist food and the use of aluminum tins can play pivotal roles in the development of the disease.

Hyperthyroidism symptoms can include:

  • Weight loss despite a hearty appetite
  • Panting
  • Hyperactivity
  • Messy appearance
  • Increased thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased shedding


Diagnosing hyperthyroidism in cats can be a bit tricky. After all, the symptoms mentioned above can also be seen in cats with inflammatory bowel disease, chronic kidney failure, diabetes, and intestinal cancer. To rule out these diseases, your vet will ask for a CBC, blood chemistry test, and urinalysis. Hyperthyroid cats usually demonstrate normal CBC and urinalysis results, although an elevation of liver enzymes will show up in the blood chemistry panel.

The best way to make a definitive diagnosis is with a T4 test, so as to check the levels of thyroid hormone in your cat’s bloodstream. While an elevation is expected in afflicted felines, 2 to 10% of cats will showcase normal T4 results – if they only have a mild case of hyperthyroidism.

Unfortunately, other diseases, which are common in older cats, can lead to normal T4 levels – another factor that can lead to a probable misdiagnosis of hyperthyroidism.

  • Treatment

Despite the complicated nature of diagnosing hyperthyroidism, treatment options abound once the disease has been confirmed. Examples include:

  • Anti-thyroid Medications. The gold standard when it comes to medication therapy is the use of Methimazole, also known as Tapazole. Positive results show after a mere 2 to 3 weeks. Although it is very effective, it comes with a variety of side effects such as appetite loss, lethargy, head and face itch, yellowing (jaundice), vomiting, and blood disorders. This lifetime treatment includes periodic CBC and T4 examinations to check the hormone levels in the bloodstream.
  • Surgery. For hyperthyroidism caused by thyroid adenoma, a surgical intervention is usually required. Removal can be done easily, although anesthesia can pose a risk on older cats with pre-existing diseases. Compared to a lifetime of Methimazole treatment, it is deemed more economical in the long run.
  • Radiotherapy. Another option for hyperthyroid cats with thyroid adenoma is treatment with radioactive iodine. Given intravenously, it travels to the thyroid gland where it destroys the afflicted tissues. While costly, one dose of radioactive iodine is enough to curb hyperthyroidism. The only downside is the prolonged hospitalization associated with radiotherapy. The confinement period is usually from 10 to 14 days. This is to ensure the safe levels of radioactivity in the cat’s urine or feces.


Hypothyroidism, also known as thyroid hormone deficiency, rarely occurs in cats. When it does, it happens more in kittens rather than adult cats. Hypothyroidism in cats is usually due to congenital disease, iodine deficiency, thyroid hormone overdose, surgery, or radioactive iodine therapy. As expected, its symptoms are the reverse of hyperthyroidism, and they include:

  • Decreased activity and weakness
  • Mental dullness
  • Lethargy
  • Low body temperature
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Unkempt look
  • Hair matting and hair loss
  • Delayed teething


An accurate medical history and physical examination are just some of the vital factors that can lead to an accurate diagnosis of hypothyroidism. It is highly important to determine which causes the condition, and such can be established with the help of a CBC, chemistry exam, and urinalysis. T3 and T4 testing will be ordered by a vet, as well as a radiographic exam to check the abnormalities that could lead to thyroid dysfunction. The expected results in hypothyroid cats are low T4 levels and elevated TSH levels.


Hypothyroidism is short-lived in cats, which is why treatment is barely recommended by vets. However, if it is deemed necessary, hormone therapy is appropriated for the duration of the cat’s lifetime. Adjustments are done every so often, depending on the feline’s recovery.

In Conclusion

To answer the titular question above, the answer is yes – pets can have thyroid issues as well. Hypothyroidism is more common in dogs, while hyperthyroidism is more prevalent in cats. Age and breed can help dictate a pet’s predisposition to thyroid disease.

Diagnosing thyroid disorders is a challenge for veterinary professionals, and as an owner, an accurate description of your pet’s medical history can help lead to an accurate, definitive diagnosis.

Although such is the case, do know that thyroid disorders are treatable – and underlying malignancies can be addressed with early diagnosis and cure. With that being said, as an owner you have a great responsibility to have your pet checked should any of the symptoms above arise.

Biotin and Thyroid Hair Loss

A butterfly-shaped gland, the thyroid is located just above the collarbone. It constitutes one of the endocrine glands which generates hormones responsible for controlling metabolism. Thyroid disorders can either rev up or slow down one’s metabolism since they disrupt production of hormones in the thyroid.

There is a wide range of symptoms that can be experienced when thyroid hormone levels are either too high or too low and one common symptom is hair loss.

There are several thyroid disorders that include;

  • Goiter: this is when the thyroid gland enlarges.
  • Thyroid nodules: presence of lumps in the thyroid gland
  • Hyperthyroidism: when the thyroid gland generates more hormones that those required by the body
  • Hypothyroidism: when the thyroid gland does not generate enough thyroid hormones
  • Thyroiditis: swelling of the glands

In order to diagnose thyroid disease, a medical practitioner will first look at your medical history and then take a physical exam that includes thyroid tests. In some cases, a biopsy is used. Treatment of thyroid disorders mainly depends on the particular disorder and may either be through thyroid surgery, radioiodine therapy or medication.

Hair Loss due to Thyroid Disorders

Often, abnormal hormones are blamed for the loss of scalp hair but in reality they are the least cause for hair loss. There are different causes of hair loss and sometimes, its natural as one grows older to lose hair.

Prolonged and severe hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism can lead to hair loss on the entire scalp and not only discrete areas. Successful treatment of the disorder leads to recovery of hair although it may be incomplete. Hair recovery takes several months. Short-lived thyroid problems and mild hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism doesn’t lead to much hair loss.

There are thyroid disorders that come abruptly and are conspicuous and therefore can be diagnosed early while other conditions can be present for months or years before they are diagnosed. One experiences hair loss several months after they get thyroid disease since human beings have a long hair cycle. In some cases hair loss may follow treatment of the thyroid disorder and subsequent medication and one can erroneously blame the medication and withdraw treatment and this in turn will worsen hair loss.


Biotin plays a vital role in preventing hair loss. A vitamin, it encourages hair growth. Deficiency of biotin leads to breakage of hair that results to hair loss.

Biotin and hair growth are directly related and therefore it is important that one incorporates biotin in their regular diet. Examples of foods that contain biotin include liver, egg yolk, brewer’s yeast, soybeans, oats, green peas, sunflower seeds, brown rice, bulgur, walnuts, cauliflower, avocado, legumes, mushrooms and fish.

However, biotin supplements are also recommended since it would take consumption of thousands of calories daily to reach the recommended level. Adding five to eight grams to your food twice everyday can go a long way in preventing hair loss.

Biotin is also referred to as Vitamin B7. Part of the Vitamin B complex, it is water-soluble.  It is also worth noting that individuals with blood type A can’t absorb B vitamins. Persons with acid reflux and heartburn tend to absorb biotin slowly and as a result, hair loss may occur despite ingesting biotin.

It is common to find biotin in skin and hair beauty products. However, biotin is more beneficial when ingested than when applied to the skin.

There are several risk factors that can lead to biotin deficiency in the body and they include: excessive consumption of alcohol, pregnancy, smoking, prolonged use of antibiotic, consumption of copious amount of raw white eggs and serious digestive disorders like celiac disease and Crohn’s disease. Symptoms of biotin deficiency in the body can include hair loss, dry skin, muscle aches, digestive issues, cramps and mood changes.

Advantages of Biotin

  • It is affordable
  • Strengthens hair, nails and the skin
  • Improves regulation of blood sugar
  • Assists in weight loss
  • Assists in processing of energy and transporting carbon dioxide out of the cells

Disadvantages of Biotin

  • It can cause acne and skin breakouts
  • May lead to allergic reactions when it interacts with some drugs
  • Increases the risk of miscarrying in pregnant women
  • High dosage may lead to stomach cramps and diarrhoea
  • On ingestion, it may cause nausea

Libido and Thyroid Relationship

Does it seem like you have lost your libido for good?

Is your sex drive at an all-time low?

While you might attribute this to your tiredness after work or your advanced age, something else might be causing your sullen sex life – and that could be an undiagnosed thyroid disorder.

What is Libido?

Libido is all about your sex drive and your appetite for this amorous affair.

In psychiatry, it is tagged as a ‘component of the life instinct.’

There is no normal level for ‘libido,’ as it differs according to gender and age, among many other aspects.

However, a lot of people experience a low libido or sex drive. Physical causes include:

  • Medical disorders, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, neurological conditions, arthritis, and thyroid disorders, the latter of which is the focus of this article.
  • Intake of medications, such as anti-depressants and anti-seizure drugs
  • Surgery affecting the breasts and/or the pelvic area
  • Excessive smoking or alcohol intake
  • Sexual problems, i.e. pain during/after sex or inability to orgasm
  • Fatigue

Additionally, hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause in women (and andropause in men) affect sex drives.

Other conditions that can affect sex drive include psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, stress, dampened self-esteem, poor body image, history of negative sexual experiences, and past sexual/physical abuse.

Relationship issues such as infidelity, poor communication, lack of connection, and unresolved issues can play a role in low libido as well.

If your low sex drive is not caused by the aforementioned factors, then have yourself tested for the possibility of a thyroid disorder. Your doctor will take your medical history and conduct a physical examination, specifically of the neck area.

He/She will ask you to undertake blood tests that will check your TSH, T4, T3, Thyroid Antibody, and Thyroglobulin levels.

How the Thyroid Gland Affects Libido

The thyroid gland, located below the voice box, is known to regulate many body functions such as growth and metabolism.

Throughout years of study, it was also discovered that the thyroid gland plays an important role in reproductive health. Changes in thyroid function have been linked with alterations in sexual activity, even fertility.

This happens because this disorder affects the production of the following hormones:

  • Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), a protein made in the liver. It binds to the hormones estrogen, testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone.
  • Testosterone, the male sex hormone responsible for sperm production and the development of sex characteristics. In women, this hormone affects sexual activity, desire, pleasure, and over-all well-being.
  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH), a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. In men, it stimulates the release of testosterone, which in turn affects the production of sperm. As for women, this hormone affects ovulation and sex drive.
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), another hormone that controls sperm production in men. In women, it controls the menstrual cycle and egg production of ovaries.

Following these changes, loss of libido is an expected outcome. It is one of the distressing symptoms of both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, where increases and decreases in thyroid hormones occur respectively.

Additionally, hypothyroidism’s other symptoms of depression, fatigue, and mood disorder can also lead to the reduced sexual drive of the afflicted persons. In fact, as much as 60% of depressed individuals report a low sexual desire.

Libido and Thyroid Relationship in Men

Men are known to have great libido when they are young. However, there are some who gradually develop a distaste for sex and lose this libido as they become older. For a handful of males, action in the bedroom can seem all too mechanical – they do not look forward to it the way they did in the earlier years.

While the loss of libido is oftentimes attributed to erectile dysfunction, performance anxiety, and stress, it can be blamed on a variety of medical conditions such as thyroid disorder.

In hypothyroid men, the SHBG, Testosterone, LH, and FSH levels are decreased, while in hyperthyroidism, the hormones mentioned are increased. Thyroid Advisor has articles on both these topics which may help in your research.

Because of these effects, problems in sex drive, as well as fertility, are encountered by men suffering from thyroid dysfunctions.

In fact, a multicenter study by Carani et al showed that of its 34 hyperthyroid male subjects, 17.6% of them reported hypoactive sexual desire, or a reduced sexual drive. The highest incidence for this group is premature ejaculation at 50%. As for its hyperthyroid patients, as much as 64.3% reported loss of libido, while 7.1% reported premature ejaculation.

Adding credence to this finding is a study by Maggi et al. Here it was established that hypothyroidism primarily affects sexual desire, as well as the ejaculation process. As for hyperthyroidism, effects include premature ejaculation and a risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction.

Although this is the case, there is no need to worry as Carani et al’s study concluded that although men with thyroid disorders experience sexual dysfunctions, these symptoms can be reversed by normalizing thyroid hormone levels through treatment.

Libido and Thyroid Relationship in Women

Just like men, women who develop thyroid disorders suffer from loss of libido. According to experts, many females who report this problem have an undiagnosed thyroid problem.

In women with thyroid disorders, hormones that determine the functioning of female sexual organs are affected.

Compared to men, there is a small volume of researches which study the relationship of thyroid disorders and libido. Such was the driving force behind the study of Oppo et al. In this paper, the authors assessed the participants through the Female Sexual Function Index.

This covered the respondents’ hypoactive sexual desire, sexual arousal disorders, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain during intercourse. Not surprisingly, hypothyroid and hyperthyroid women reported low scores in all the domains.

As in the case of men, the loss of libido in women with thyroid disorders usually dissipates following treatment. In the same study, hypothyroidism treatment led to the normalization of sexual desire and satisfaction, as well as a decrease in sexual pain.

As for hyperthyroid women, sexual desire and other facets normalized, except orgasm, which remained impaired even after treatment.

Improving Libido by Treating Thyroid Disorders

If you have a thyroid disorder that causes your low libido, among many other symptoms, then you should have it managed immediately. As it has been mentioned, sexual drives are usually normalized after treatment.

If you are suffering from hypothyroidism, your physician will prescribe you with the hormone Levothyroxine, which is available in the market as Synthroid or Levothroid. This works by increasing thyroid hormone levels in the body, reversing symptoms of hypothyroidism such as a low sex drive. Do note that Levothyroxine treatment is usually done for a lifetime.

However, you need to visit your physician routinely so that he/she can make the necessary adjustments on your dosage. If your dose is on the excess, you can experience insomnia, shakiness, palpitations, and an increased appetite. Should this occur, check with your doctor right away.

As for a low sex drive caused by hyperthyroidism, treatments vary according to the person’s age, condition, cause of hyperthyroidism, and preference. Discuss with your physician any of the following options to determine the best choice for your current status:

  • Anti-Thyroid Medications. Methimazole and Propylthiouracil work by controlling the excessive production of thyroid hormones. Symptoms such as low libido can be resolved after six weeks of treatment. However, any of these medications is still needed until a year or so in order to properly normalize thyroid hormone levels. Side effects of these medications include joint pain, fever, rashes, susceptibility to infection, and possible liver damage.
  • Radioactive Iodine. Acts by shrinking the thyroid gland, RAI results to the reversal of symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism. Since it renders the gland underactive, thyroxine intake is recommended following radioactive iodine treatment.
  • If you are unable to tolerate any of the aforementioned treatment regimens, you can undergo thyroidectomy, wherein most of the gland is removed. To normalize thyroid hormone levels, patients who undergo thyroidectomy will require lifelong Levothyroxine treatment.

How to Improve Libido Naturally

Yes, thyroid treatment can reverse the awful symptom of low libido. However, if your sex drive is at a standstill while you complete your doctor’s prescribed thyroid medications, you can opt for these methods that have been known to improve libido naturally:

  • Libido-Boosting Food

Food will not only fill you up, it can also enhance your sex drive! Here are some fares that can help you achieve better performance in bed (or wherever.)

  • Rich in Vitamin C, these greenie improves circulation to the organs, which in turn enhances sexual desire in the eater.
  • You can add this in your tea or favorite dish to enjoy an increase in sexual activity.
  • Iceberg Lettuce. Not only can it help you lose weight, this vegetable can also flood your circulation with libido-boosting sex hormones.
  • Black Raspberries. Rich in Phytochemicals, these berries can cause a spike in your libido and sexual endurance. Take at least 10 pieces before you do the deed for a more fulfilling result.
  • Another fruit that can boost your sex drive is the watermelon, which contains 8% of nutrients that enhance sexual health. It boasts of citrulline, a phytonutrient that works in the same way as Viagra.


  • Herbal Supplements

Apart from food that can boost your sex drive, there are herbal aphrodisiacs, some used by our forefathers hundreds of years ago, that have been proven effective in improving libido in both men and women.

  • Ginseng, or the man-root that can improve your libido in as short as a month. You can add the root into your favorite dish, or take any of the Ginseng teas available in the market for a markedly pleasurable time.
  • Mondia whitei, which is used to enhance sex drive and management a low sperm count. It also causes sexual improvement, as seen in a study of inexperienced male rats.
  • Tribulus terrestris, which increases the production of androgens, testosterone, dihydrotesterone, and LH, all of which have led to better sexual behaviors.
  • Lepidium myenii, otherwise known as Maca, has been known to improve sexual desire after 2 months of intake.


  • Exercise

Exercise comes with a variety of benefits ranging from weight loss and decreased risks of succumbing from heart disease. Consequently, regular exercise has been known to improve libido. In women, a 20-minute exercise prior to watching erotic films has led improved to genital arousal, according to a study by Lorenz and Meston. While it has been conducted in patients taking anti-depressant medications, their complaint of ‘low libido’ is similar to those with thyroid dysfunctions.

Consequently, too much exercise can lead to further sexual woes than improvements. Frequent, high-intensity exercise has been known to decrease libido, fertility, and sperm production in men, according to a study by Ellakim and Nemet. As such, keep your workouts at the recommended levels for stellar physical and sexual health.

Low libido usually comes with thyroid disorders, but the good news is it does not last forever.

Once you get treated for your condition, you can get rid of the nasty symptoms – and expect a better sex life right thereafter!


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