FunNature & AnimalFeline hyperthyroidism: what it is, symptoms and treatment

Feline hyperthyroidism: what it is, symptoms and treatment

Hyperthyroidism is a disease that cats, especially older and middle-aged felines, can suffer from in which too high a quantity of thyroid hormone is produced . According to the American Association of Feline Veterinarians, it affects one in ten adult cats but, with proper treatment, the animal can lead a perfectly normal life. We would like to emphasize that this is a serious matter since thyroid hormones regulate many processes in the body and when produced in excess, they can cause serious health problems. At the slightest symptom of hyperthyroidism, take the furry dog to the vet.

The symptoms

One of the most striking and typical symptoms of this disease is the marked loss of weight that the animal experiences despite eating a lot. This is due to the acceleration of metabolism that occurs in patients with hyperthyroidism. The animal will burn energy at a faster rate than is considered normal.

A feline affected by hyperthyroidism will also drink more water and consequently will urinate more. These symptoms are easy to detect because the feed bag will run out sooner, the tray will be dirtier than usual and it is possible that you will catch the kitten drinking from the bathroom sink, the bidet and even the dishes in the pots (if you have one) , in addition to its drinking fountain.

Other telltale signs of this disease are: hyperactivity (even if the animal is older), constant meowing, tachycardia , dilated pupils, irritability, aggressiveness, diarrhea and vomiting (the latter caused by accelerated food intake). As with other times when a cat is ill, her fur will not look as pretty as usual.

There are also apparently asymptomatic patients.

The causes

In most cases (about 97%), the cause of feline hyperthyroidism is benign enlargement of the thyroid gland. The remaining 3% would be due to the existence of a malignant tumor. To diagnose hyperthyroidism, a blood test will be done in which the thyroid hormone in the blood (thyroxine or T4) will be measured.

The treatment

Feline hyperthyroidism can be attacked from different routes: from food, with medication, with surgical intervention or with radioactive iodine , each with its pros and cons.

“Sometimes it is enough to administer to the feline a type of feed restricted in iodine , which helps to regulate the production of this hormone”, says Mercedes López, veterinarian at La Clíniva Veterinaria de Madrid. Of course, if the furry eats something other than this special food, the treatment will lose its effectiveness.

The second route consists of the administration of an oral antithyroid drug (pill or syrup) that prevents the production of thyroid hormone. It is the cheapest and least aggressive option but it is not curative and must be continued for life.

The next option is surgery, which involves removing the abnormal thyroid gland . Surgery can cure the animal but it must be taken into account that during the intervention the parathyroid glands, responsible for regulating the calcium level, can be damaged. In these cases, a replacement hormone will be administered to the animal, even for a time. If only one thyroid gland is removed, the operation may have to be repeated if after time another affected part will be found.

And finally, injections of radioactive iodine can be given , which will destroy the abnormal thyroid cells. This treatment is very effective and most cats need a single injection, which is put under the skin of the neck as if it were a vaccine. Of course, the animal will have to spend three to seven days in a special room in the clinic to eliminate almost all the radioactivity from its body, via urine and feces. Once at home and for the next two weeks, certain precautionary measures should be taken.

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