How does hypothyroidism affect the hearing?
Dogs increasingly suffer from an underactive thyroid
The thyroid gland located in the upper neck area of the windpipe on both sides produces the iodine-containing hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) as well as calcitonin. T4 and T3 intervene in almost all metabolic processes in the body, while the calcitonin mainly controls the calcium balance. The production of thyroid hormones in turn controls the pituitary gland by releasing regulating hormones.
If thyroid cells are destroyed and too few hormones are produced as a result, the result is an underactive thyroid known as "hypothyroidism". If, on the other hand, too many hormones are released (e.g. due to the influence of a thyroid tumor), one speaks of an overactive function, or "hyperthyroidism".
Underactive thyroid is most common in medium-sized and large, middle-aged dogs. It develops slowly over months or even years. Since almost all body functions are influenced by the thyroid hormones, the symptoms are ambiguous. However, changes in the fur and skin as well as inflammation, especially in the ears, can often be observed. Since thyroid hormones also influence heart function, muscle and fat build-up, sick dogs freeze quickly, show a certain sluggishness and a significant gain in weight. The so-called “tragic” facial expression, which is caused by thickening of the skin in the head area, can also often be observed. On the other hand, effects on the nervous system such as paralysis are less common.
How do you diagnose the disease?
If other causes of the disease have been ruled out, a blood test can provide information. Both the T4 produced by the thyroid gland and the control hormone TSH of the pituitary gland are measured. The cholesterol level and the number of red blood cells also provide clues. However, since the destruction of the hormone-producing cells takes place slowly, it is not always possible to clearly demonstrate hypothyroidism. In addition, an ultrasound examination can help to confirm the diagnosis. It is important that all medication that could affect the thyroid gland (e.g. cortisone, pain relievers and certain antibiotics) be discontinued before the examination so that the result can be assessed.
How to treat dogs with hypothyroidism
You will be given tablets containing the missing thyroid hormone twice a day for life. At the beginning of the therapy, the dose is checked and adjusted more frequently by determining the blood level, later an examination interval of 4 - 6 months is sufficient. Most of the symptoms caused by hypothyroidism go away after a few weeks or months.
Consider it: Changes in behavior that appear harmless at first, skin or ear infections, can also be caused by a reduced production of thyroid hormones. With timely diagnosis and consistent therapy, however, there is a good chance of a long, symptom-free life.
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