Disorders Of The Thyroid Gland In Cats
, VMD, DACVIM-LAIM, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University
The thyroid gland is a 2-lobed gland in the neck. It produces 2 iodine-containing hormones, T3 and T4, which affect many processes in the body. In general, the thyroid hormones regulate metabolic rate, or the speed at which body processes run. Too little hormone causes body processes to be sluggish. Too much causes them to run too fast.
Thyroid hormones act on many different cellular processes. Some of their actions occur within minutes to hours, while others take several hours or longer. Thyroid hormones in normal quantities work along with other hormones, such as growth hormone and insulin, to build tissues. However, when they are secreted in excess, they can contribute to the breakdown of proteins and tissues.
Are There Any Warnings For People Who Handle Felimazole
Wash your hands with soap and water after giving your cat Felimazole to avoid accidental exposure to the drug. Do not break or crush the tablets. Trace amounts of Felimazole can be found in a treated cats feces and bodily fluids, so wear gloves when you scoop your cats litter or if you have contact with your cats feces, urine, or vomit. Also wear gloves when you handle broken or moistened Felimazole tablets.
Methimazole, the active ingredient in Felimazole, can cause birth defects in people. The drug crosses the placenta and concentrates in the thyroid gland of the fetus. The drug is also found in breast milk. Pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, and nursing mothers should wear gloves when handling Felimazole tablets, cat litter, or the bodily fluids of treated cats.
In people, methimazole may cause vomiting, stomach distress, headache, fever, joint pain, itching, and low levels of red and white blood cells. If you accidentally ingest Felimazole, call your healthcare provider immediately and show the drugs label to the provider.
Remember to keep Felimazole in a secure location out of reach of children, dogs, cats, and other animals to prevent accidental ingestion or overdose.
What Is The Life Expectancy For A Cat With Hyperthyroidism
The prognosis for treated cats is good, with an expected life span of eighteen months to two years or more, with around one in three cats still being alive after four years.
The ultimate cause of death is not usually associated with hyperthyroidism: cancers and kidney disease are the most common reasons, and these are common in all elderly cats.
Remember, if you suspect that your cat may have hyperthyroidism, its important to get them to the vet promptly so that a proper diagnosis can be made, and a treatment plan put in place. Hyperthyroidism does not get better naturally, and it does not respond to home remedies or alternative approaches. The science is strong on this: for the sake of your cats health and longevity, the correct treatment needs to be given, and when this is done, the results are excellent, with affected cats returning to full, normal health.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hyperthyroidism In Cats
Typically, the signs of hyperthyroidism develop gradually, over a few months. Often the cat carer notices a number of symptoms developing in their pet.
- Changes in the cats behavior and habits.
- A formerly placid, easy going cat might become more agitated and more irritable.
- The appetite is often affected, with changes in favorite foods, as well as a significantly increased appetite.
- Increased thirst.
- Increased urination, sometimes with accidents in the house.
- Increased vocalization, with cats howling and yowling more than before.
- Intermittent vomiting.
- The most telltale sign is weight loss despite an increased appetite.
If your cat shows a combination of some of the signs listed above, its important to take them to the vet promptly.
Diagnosis of hyperthyroidism is impossible without doing a blood test, and the sooner the diagnosis is made, the sooner treatment will be given, and the sooner your pet will be on the road to being fully healthy again. This is not a disease that will go away by itself, nor will it respond to home remedies of any kind.
The classic picture of a hyperthyroid cat that vets have in mind is an old, bright, thin cat who eats a lot, drinks more than usual and vomits occasionally.
That said, there are some cases that do not show fit this picture,and there are some cats that show these signs but have a normal thyroid gland. This is why its so important to have your cat checked by your vet if you are worried about their health in any way.
Diagnosis Of Feline Hyperthyroidism
If hyperthyroidism is suspected, your veterinarian may take some blood in order to perform tests. A blood-chemistry panel is often ordered along with thyroid-hormone level tests. Most cats with hyperthyroidism have elevated levels of thyroid hormone in their bloodstream. Because hyperthyroidism can predispose a cat to other conditions, it is important to evaluate the cat’s general health, with particular focus on the heart and kidneys.
The blood-chemistry panel and urinalysis will help reveal information about other organs and provide your veterinarian with a picture of your cat’s health. Radiographs and other tests may be needed in order to determine the overall health of your cat. Hyperthyroidism may cause heart disease. The heart may appear enlarged on an x-ray and may show abnormal electrical activity on an ECG. The heart disease usually reverses in most cats after successful treatment of hyperthyroidism.
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Testing For Thyroid Issues
Cats often lay low when they aren’t feeling well. If you think something is amiss with your kitty and believe you may be seeing symptoms of thyroid issues, it’s time to visit your veterinarian. Testing for thyroid issues will require a physical exam and blood tests. A complete urinalysis and biochemistry profile may also be necessary. Your vet will feel kitty’s neck to determine if the thyroid is enlarged.
Signs Of Hypothyroidism In Cats
As mentioned above, if your kitty has hypothyroidism their metabolism will slow due to a lack of essential thyroid hormones. This reduced hormone level can result in a host of symptoms including:
Treatment for Cats with Hypothyroidism
The majority of cats diagnosed with hypothyroidism will not require treatment. However, if your pet’s symptoms are more severe, synthetic hormone supplements may be prescribed by your vet, and follow-up blood tests will be scheduled in order to monitor your cat’s hormone levels.
A modified diet with reduced fat may also be recommended for your cat while they are recovering from hypothyroidism. Cats typically recover well from hypothyroidism, with a notable improvement in their health seen in just a short amount of time.
Note:The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition, please make an appointment with your vet.
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How Common Is Hyperthyroidism In Cats
There is no known genetic predisposition for hyperthyroidism, but it is quite common in cats.
In fact, hyperthyroidism is the most common hormonal disease in the cat population, often seen in late middle-aged and older cats.
The average age of diagnosis is approximately 13 years. The possible age range is 4-20 years, although seeing young hyperthyroid cats is very rare.
How Is Feline Hyperthyroidism Diagnosed
In many cases, the diagnosis of feline hyperthyroidism is by a straightforward blood test. This tests the levels of thyroid hormone in the blood, and if the level is high then the diagnosis is made. In some cases, the diagnosis can be more challenging however, because other illnesses can cause thyroid levels to decrease, meaning cats with the disease are missed. In patients whose signs are consistent with hyperthyroidism but whose thyroid levels are towards the mid-to-high end of the normal range, further blood testing and imaging can be useful to make a final diagnosis.
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Recovery Of Thyroid Hormone Deficiency In Cats
After one or two months of hormone replacement therapy, a cat that is responding well to treatment will likely begin to have a healthier coat, be more mentally alert, and return to a healthy body weight. Most cats, if they are otherwise healthy, will make dramatic improvements as a result of hormone replacement therapy. If you do not observe these improvements in your cats symptoms after the treatment has had adequate time to take effect, contact your veterinarian. Even if your cat makes marked improvements in their health, you will need to remain consistent in administering medication and with follow-up appointments with your vet.
Hyperthyroidism In Cats Faq
What causes hyperthyroidism in cats?
Theres no definitive cause of hyperthyroidism in cats, though sometimes it can be caused by a tumour. It is a condition that is linked to older cats. There is some speculation that its caused by diet or environment, but this hasnt been proven.
Is hyperthyroidism in cats treatable?
Yes, there are a few different options to treat hyperthyroidism in cats, including radioactive iodine , surgery, or medicine. Your vet will discuss the best course of treatment for your cat with you, so you can make an informed decision.
What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats?
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats are weight loss despite increased appetite, increased energy or restlessness and changes to the condition of their fur or skin. There could be other symptoms, but if you notice any changes in your cats behaviour, you should always ask advice from a vet.
How long does hyperthyroidism medication take to work in cats?
Medication for hyperthyroidism is adjusted to effect. This may mean that the dose will be adjusted within the initial few weeks. Regular monitoring blood tests will show if a dose adjustment is needed.
Do cats with hyperthyroidism drink lots of water?
Signs of hyperthyroidism may include weight loss, increased appetite, increased thirst, increase activity and restlessness, an increased heart rate and a poor and unkempt coat.
Are cats with thyroid problems always hungry?
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Diagnosing Hypothyroidism In Cats
If you believe your cat is suffering from hypothyroidism, it is vital that you make an appointment with a licensed veterinarian. When you are at your appointment with your veterinarian, they will likely begin by getting a complete medical history of your cat, including any medical conditions or treatments they have had, their age, their overall health, and the duration and severity of their symptoms. Since hypothyroidism in cats is rare, it is important to provide your veterinarian with a detailed and thorough history of your catâs health prior to displaying symptoms. This will help them to establish a baseline of your catâs normal health, which they can then compare to their current symptoms to determine which symptoms are a significant departure from their normal health.
The veterinarian will often weigh your cat during this initial discussion, and then they will begin to conduct their physical examination. During the physical examination, they will assess a number of different external physical features and aspects of your cat to assess what may be causing their symptoms and to determine what further testing they will need to make a diagnosis.
Recovery And Management Of Hypothyroidism
Most cats recover from hypothyroidism with treatment from synthetic thyroid hormones like levothyroxine, although the extent and duration of recovery may vary. Veterinarians measure the success of treatment by how much a cats symptoms improve.
Finding the appropriate dosage of synthetic thyroid hormone can take some adjustment. During this time, cats will require more frequent monitoring. Once a dosage is shown to be effective, monitoring and laboratory work can be decreased to once or twice a year for the rest of your cats life.
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What Is Hypothyroidism In Cats
The thyroid is a pair of glands located in your cats neck that produce hormones. These hormones are important because they regulate your cats growth and metabolism. Hypothyroidism is a condition that means your cat has an underactive thyroid, which isnt producing enough hormones for their body to function properly. Feline hypothyroidism is a rare condition and is easily treatable.
How Is Hyperthyroidism In Cats Treated
Once the diagnosis of hyperthyroidism has been confirmed, there are here are four main forms of treatment, with the best choice depending on the cats individual situation.
Each different treatment choice carries a different price tag, and this will vary from area to area: you should ask your vet for a full treatment estimate at the start, so that you know how much you need to budget for.
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Hypothyroidism Vs Hyperthyroidism In Cats
A number of essential processes in your cat’s body, including metabolic rate, are regulated by the hormones produced by your cat’s thyroid. If your kitty is diagnosed with hypothyroidism it means that their thyroid gland is underactive and failing to produce enough of the hormones required for your cat to stay healthy. Conversely, if your cat’s thyroid is overactive your kitty is suffering from hyperthyroidism, which is often seen in older cats.
In most cases, hypothyroidism occurs in cats who have undergone surgery or iodine therapy to treat hyperthyroidism. That said, in some rare cases the condition may be caused by cancer, iodine deficiency or thyroid gland abnormalities.
Signs Your Cat Has A Thyroid Problem
As humans, we know of a few common thyroid conditions that can plague us as we age. But did you know that our pets can experience these conditions, too?
The thyroid, a small gland in your cats neck, produces hormones that help regulate things like metabolism, energy and body temperature. When a tumor or other change affects the amount of thyroid hormones produced, this is considered a thyroid disorder.
In cats, hyperthyroidism is the most common thyroid issue. When a cat suffers from hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland overproduces these hormones, causing their body to use energy too quickly. Hypothyroidismreduced levels of thyroid hormone productioncan occur in cats, but it is rare.
Hyperthyroidism is most common in older cats. If it is not addressed, hyperthyroidism could lead to secondary health problems like hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease and blindness. Fortunately, thyroid disorders are pretty easy to spot in cats and are also easy to treat once diagnosed.
These six signs can help clue you in to a potential problem with your cats thyroid.
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What Do Vets Find When They Physically Examine A Cat With Hyperthyroidism
As well as noting that their patient is an older, bright, thin cat, there are three specific signs that vets look out for when examining a suspected case.
What Causes Feline Hyperthyroidism
The majority of cases of hyperthyroidism in cats are as a result of a benign change to one or more of the thyroid glands called hyperplasia or adenoma. These cause enlargement of the gland and cause it to produce thyroid hormone in an uncontrolled way. Despite extensive investigations, no one, single cause has been found to explain the development of these changes, however, it appears to be more common in cats that live entirely or predominantly indoors and those that consume tinned cat food. Fire retardant chemicals have also been suggested as a cause but this has also not been conclusively proved.
In a small proportion of cases , hyperthyroidism can be caused by a malignant cancer of the thyroid gland called thyroid carcinoma.
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How Is Hyperthyroidism Diagnosed In Cats
Only ablood test will give a confirmed diagnosis of hyperthyroidism in cats. However, during a physical examination, your veterinary surgeon can also identify the signs.
Other important tests your vet may perform at the initial consultation include recording your cats weight and heart rate, conducting a urine analysis and taking blood pressure. These factors are all affected by hyperthyroidism and change according to the progression of the disease and the effectiveness of treatment.
A few important things to note:
- Other diseases can be confused with hyperthyroidism, so its important to confirm the diagnosis.
- Some concurrent diseases can affect treatment and prognosis.
- The degree to which the thyroid is producing excess hormone can affect the required dosage of medication. A blood test will give precise figures.
- Some of the problems associated with hyperthyroidism, such as liver and kidney disease, can only be evaluated by a blood test