Is Follow Up Treatment And Monitoring Needed
The different types of treatment need different follow up approaches.
Daily medication and an iodine-restricted diet do not provide a permanent cure, so without ongoing therapy, hyperthyroidism will recur. For this reason, it makes sense to carry out intermittent blood tests to confirm that the tablets or diet are still being effective. Your vet will advise you on the recommended frequency, but it could be every 3 6 months.
Surgical removal of the thyroid gland and treatment with radioactive iodine are both curative treatments, so there should be no need to have follow up monitoring tests once the initial post-procedure tests have shown that levels have returned to normal.
There is a small risk that treatment for hyperthyroidism might un-mask kidney disease that had previously been lurking under the surface, so your vet may recommend tests to monitor kidney parameters if this is considered to be an issue.
What Does The Thyroid Gland Do
In cats, the thyroid gland has two parts, with one on each side of the trachea , just below the larynx .
The thyroid gland makes several different hormones . These thyroid hormones affect many of your cats body processes:
- Regulation of body temperature
- Metabolism of fats and carbohydrates
- Weight gain and loss
- Heart rate and cardiac output
- Nervous system function
- Growth and brain development in young animals
The Surgical Treatment Of Cat Thyroid Problems
The cat thyroid gland is located on either side of the cat’s windpipe. It controls endocrine activity. Hyperthyroidism is caused due to an overactive thyroid gland, while hypothyroidism occurs due to decreased production of the thyroid hormone.
Older cats are more susceptible to hyperthyroidism. During the development of hyperthyroidism, the cat will have a benign tumor in the thyroid gland which secretes excess thyroid. The cats’ thyroid problems need to be treated as it eventually causes kidney failure which is both dangerous and fatal.
Hypothyroidism is not common in cats and often occurs due to the effects of medication for hyperthyroidism. The symptoms of hyperthyroidism are generally noticed in cats over 10 years of age.
- Lethargy and weakness
To detect thyroid problems in your pet, the vet will conduct a blood sample analysis that measures the level of thyroxine in the blood. The initial treatment for hyperthyroidism is medication. Although the drugs regulate thyroid hormone in your cat’s body, it will not cure the disease.
Radioactive iodine therapy is an injection that destroys the malfunctioning parts of the thyroid gland. This injection is administered only once and most cats respond positively to the treatment. The therapy is expensive and many doctors don’t have the appropriate facilities to conduct the procedure.
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The Latest On Feline Hyperthyroidism Research
For all of you who like to know when some possible light is shed on a particular disease, heres something to tickle your curiosity.
An article published in the New York Times, based on current ongoing veterinary research, presented some interesting possibilities as to why hyperthyroidism began showing up in the feline population in the late 70s when it was not recognized before that. Although there are no definitive answers, research links this endocrine disease to a common class of flame retardants that became popular in homes at that time. These flame retardants are in a class called PBDEs . They were added to many household articles including couch cushions, carpet padding, and electronics. These PBDEs have a molecular structure that closely resembles that of thyroid hormones, and may mimic or compete with these hormones in cats bodies. Similar observations have been made about other chemicals used commonly in our environment, including at least one popular herbicide introduced about the same time as the PBDEs.
Perhaps the most disturbing implication of this research is this: once deployed, these chemicals stay in the environment for very long time periods. The phenomenon of feline hyperthyroidism may be the canary in the coal mine for a future similar pandemic in humans.
It is worth reading this article if you are interested in how polluting our environment with man-made chemicals and toxins can interfere with human and animal metabolic processes.
Surgically Removing The Thyroid Gland
Surgical removal of the diseased thyroid gland is another potential treatment. Like I131 treatment, surgical treatment is curative, but these cats also must be monitored afterward for hypothyroidism.
Surgical removal of the thyroid gland is best performed when only one thyroid gland is affected, as removal of both can possibly lead to hypothyroidism. Another complication that can occur after surgical removal of the affected thyroid gland is the successive hyperactivity of the remaining thyroid gland.
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Why Would Radioiodine Be Used Instead Of Medicine Or Surgery
Medical therapy will work for some cats, but there can be several reasons it may not be the best choice. First, some cats are difficult or impossible to medicate. Second, mild reactions are common, and a rare few may develop serious adverse reactions to the medication . Because of these side effects, periodic blood tests are necessary to monitor the cats condition. Finally, some owners may not want to have to medicate their cat daily for the rest of its life.
Surgery is generally an effective treatment for hyperthyroidism but may have disadvantages in some cats. Many cats with hyperthyroidism have heart problems and are higher anesthetic risks. There is also a risk that there will be temporary damage to the adjacent parathyroid glands during thyroid surgery resulting in hypocalcemia . This complication can be life-threatening and result in extra hospitalization and cost. After surgery, some cats will develop hypothyroidism and will require treatment with thyroid hormone pills for a period of time. Finally, there is a moderate risk that the hyperthyroidism will not be cured with surgery or the condition will reoccur.
What Is Hyperthyroidism In Cats
Your cat has a pair of thyroid glands in his or her neck that produces hormones to help regulate the rate of metabolism. Cats with hyperthyroidism have an issue with the thyroid glands where they release an abnormally high level of these hormones. This speeds up metabolism, which can stress your cats internal organs and have a serious impact on your cats overall health.
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How Do You Treat A Cat With Hyperthyroidism
The good news: There are lots of treatment options. Actually, the sheer range of choices can be baffling at times.
Your vet may give you the shorthand version and suggest what they think is the most appropriate treatment.
If something doesnt sit right with you treatment wise, such as your cat wont take their pills, then let your vet know. There will be another treatment option.
It may be helpful to jot down a list, answering the following questions, to guide the vets suggestions:
- Do you have 1 or multiple cats?
- Is the cat easy to pill?
- Can you commit to regular vet checks and blood tests?
- Is the cat relatively young and otherwise healthy?
- Surgery:Surgical removal of the overactive gland puts the cat back into a normal state. However, an anesthetic is involved, and things can get complicated if both glands are overactive at the same time.
- Medication: Many drugs normalize thyroid hormone levels. Typically these are a very small, easy-to-give pills. This is the option I use with my cat, as shes easy to pill and appears on time when her next dose is due. On the downside, the dose climbs steadily over time, and those little pills are relatively pricey. Options include:
- Liquid formula added to food
- Transdermal gel applied to the cats ear
Of course, deciding on a treatment can be influenced by cost.
Does Hyperthyroidism In Cats Need To Be Treated
Feline hyperthyroidism can be quite a misleading disease. Often the cat can seem well and happy in themselves, although its not possible to see the damage that is being done inside by an overactive thyroid.
In hyperthyroidism, there are no physical signs, which makes it difficult to treat if symptoms are picked up too late. Therefore, it is best to start treating hyperthyroidism as soon as it is diagnosed.
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What Causes Hyperthyroidism
In the vast majority of cases hyperthyroidism in cats is caused by a benign change. Cats have two thyroid glands, and in most cases both are involved in the disease, and become enlarged . The underlying cause of this change is currently unknown, but is very similar to one of the two main causes of hyperthyroidism in humans called toxic nodular goitre.
Rarely a malignant tumour can be the underlying cause of the disease.
What Is Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism results when the thyroid gland over-produces thyroid hormones. Its the most common endocrine disease of cats older than 8-years-old.
In almost 99 percent of the cases, hyperthyroidism is caused by a benign tumor of the thyroid gland. The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland is located in the neck, with one lobe on each side. It plays an important role in regulating the bodys engine, or metabolic rate. When the thyroid gland produces an excessive amount of thyroid hormones, it causes the cats engine to run at an abnormally high speed. This high metabolic rate negatively affects almost all of the cats organs.
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Thyroid Problem In Cats
Hyperthyroidism is an excess of secretion of thyroid hormone, which generates a general imbalance throughout the body of the cat. Your metabolism accelerates and causes you to lose weight since your body does not have time to assimilate the nutrients of the food you eat. Therefore, lose weight while eating as usual, or even if you eat more than usual.
This thyroid problem in cats is not usual in the youngest, only 5% of cases occur in cats under 10 years. Typically, it occurs in older cats the risk multiplies from about 13 years, although genetics and race influence.
Pets can exhibit one or many of these common symptoms, including:
- Increased appetite
- Increase in water intake
The diagnosis is based on the clinical signs, the findings of the examination and the hematological study, which includes the analysis of the level of thyroid hormones.
When a cat has hyperthyroidism, it usually shows the following signs:
- Significant weight loss, even if there are no changes in your usual diet.
- Accelerates the heart rate.
- Respiratory problems.
- Alters the frequency of urination and defecation.
- Alter your appetite and thirst: you spend your energy and hydration more quickly, so you eat and drink more than before.
- Your skin and hair look aged, weakened or even there are flaking or other injuries.
- Depression, unstable mood.
What Is The Prognosis For Cats With Hyperthyroidism
Your kittys prognosis for hyperthyroidism will generally be good with appropriate therapy, administered early. In some cases, complications with other organs can worsen the prognosis.
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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Conventional Treatments For Feline Hyperthyroidism
After discovering that their cat has hyperthyroidism, many cat owners first try conventional treatments. There are three different methods to treat this disease or condition medically. I am not recommending these treatments here, but it is good to know the conventional treatment options, so here they are:
- Methimazole needs to be taken orally for life. If it is impossible to give your cat pills, there is a gel alternative that is rubbed in the ear instead. A percentage of cats that take methimazole experience side effects, including loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, and occasionally blood cell abnormalities. There are rarer side effects, too, including severe facial itching with self-induced trauma, blood clotting disorders, or liver problems. Most side effects are mild, however, and eventually resolve.
- Surgery to remove the thyroid gland. Surgery may cure hyperthyroidism as long as all of the affected gland can be removed. The anesthesia administered during surgery can be challenging for older cats, as hyperthyroidism may have affected their hearts and other organs. Surgery is also costly.
- Radioactive iodine administered once by injection. This medication irradiates the hyperactive tissue. This alternative requires no sedation or surgery but requires several days of hospitalization. Radioactive iodine treatment is the most expensive of the treatments for cat hypothyroidism.
Â© 2012 Rhonda Jewel
How Will My Cat Be Treated For Hyperthyroidism
There are several options available for treating feline hyperthyroidism if your cat is diagnosed. Your veterinarian should discuss all the options available, and help you choose which would be right for your individual situation. Not all options are equally good for all hyperthyroid cats the presence of other disorders, especially those of the kidney or heart, can strongly influence what the most reasonable course is likely to be.
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What Are The Signs Of Hypothyroidism In Cats
The low levels of thyroid hormones seen in cats with hypothyroidism leads to a slowing of the cat’s metabolism which can result in symptoms such as cold intolerance, weight gain, hair loss or matting, lethargy, weakness or low body temperature.
If your kitty shows any of the symptoms above contact your vet to schedule an examination for your pet. The above symptoms can indicate hypothyroidism in cats, however they can also be related to a number of other serious conditions which require veterinary care.
How Is Hyperthyroidism Treated
Since fewer than 2% of cats with hyperthyroidism have cancerous growths of the thyroid gland, treatment is usually very successful.
Before choosing any form of treatment, several tests are performed which may include additional blood tests, a urinalysis, chest X-rays, an ECG, and blood pressure measurement. These tests are needed to evaluate the overall health of your cat and to predict the likelihood of complications with the chosen treatment protocol.
Ultrasound of the heart may be recommended based on your cat’s condition, especially if there is any concern about cardiomyopathy. Thyroid scintigraphy may also be recommended to confirm a diagnosis and determine the size of the organ prior to surgery or radioactive iodine.
“There are several treatment options your veterinarian will determine the best choice for your cat.”
There are several treatment options and your veterinarian will determine the best choice for your cat. Many factors must be considered when choosing the best therapy for an individual cat. The treatment options for hyperthyroidism are:
“Surgical removal of the affected thyroid gland may be very effective.”
Some hyperthyroid cats have thyroid cells in abnormal locations called ectopic thyroid tissue – and they may remain hyperthyroid after surgery. It is best to perform a nuclear scan before surgery to rule out ectopic thyroid tissue.
For this prescription diet to work, it must be the only food fed, and this means no cheating with treats.
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Hypothyroidism In Cats Faqs
Is hypothyroidism fatal in cats?
Acquired hypothyroidism, which affects adult cats, is rarely fatal. However, hypothyroidism can lower the kidney glomerular filtration rate, which is a measure of how well your cats kidneys are working to filter waste.
If a cat has chronic renal disease in addition to hypothyroidism, the combined effect of these factors can lead to severe azotemia or renal failure, which is fatal in cats.
Congenital hypothyroidism, which is present at birth, can be fatal in kittens.
How long can cats live with hypothyroidism?
Kittens with congenital hypothyroidism have an unknown prognosis. As this is a rare disease for cats, not much research exists for survival rates. Individual kitten survival depends on the severity of changes in their skeleton and nervous system.
Adult cats with acquired hypothyroidism have a good prognosis with management of their disease and can achieve a nearly normal life expectancy.
Is hypothyroidism in cats painful?
The side effects of untreated hypothyroidism can be painful.
In kittens with congenital hypothyroidism, pain and discomfort can arise from the lameness associated with the illness.
Discomfort for adult cats with untreated acquired hypothyroidism can arise from the following:
Inflammation from excessive weight gain or abnormal skin barriers
Dehydration from lowered kidney function or chronic renal disease
Buildup of toxins in the bloodstream
Weakness and a general feeling of being unwell
How Is Hyperthyroidism In Cats Diagnosed
Your veterinarian may suspect that your cat has hyperthyroidism based on the signs you describe and by feeling the enlarged thyroid gland in your cats neck. Your veterinarian will likely confirm the diagnosis by doing blood tests that measure the level of your cat’s thyroid hormones.
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Treatment Failures Of Hyperthyroidism In Cats
More than 9 in 10 cats respond well to recommended treatment, although it wont always work well for everyone.
If medication isnt working for your cat, it may just mean trying the alternative tablet. Any of the other management options discussed can be explored, even if hormone levels havent been stabilised. If your cat is not responding to treatment for hyperthyroidism, they will require extra monitoring from your vet.
The main reason surgery may not be successful is due to both glands being affected. In rare cases, there may be abnormal thyroid tissue inside the chest, and its not normally possible to diagnose this before both glands have been removed. Abnormal thyroid tissue can be controlled by any of the other treatments quite successfully, or your cat can be referred for specialist surgery.
Radioactive iodine is successful in more than 95% of cases. It will also target any part of the body that is producing thyroid hormones and can be used after surgery if required for ectopic thyroid tissue. Very occasionally, a second treatment will be required to get the full effect.
The Effect Of Hypothyroidism On Calcium Homeostasis
Thyroid hormone therapy can cause hypercalcemia, which is a common side effect. Hypothyroidism, when present, has been linked to decreased bone turnover and serum calcium levels, as well as increased levels of parathyroid hormone and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Interleukin-6 levels in hyperthyroidism increase osteoclastic activity and disrupt the osteoclasts on bone. Hypocalcemia, as a result, can develop in hypothyroidism.
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