Feline Hyperthyroidism: What You Need to Know

Hyperthyroidism is a common disease that typically affects middle-aged and older cats. It is caused by an excess production of thyroid hormones, which are produced by the thyroid gland, located inside the cat’s neck. Thyroid hormones affect nearly all organs, which is why thyroid disease can sometimes cause secondary problems such as hypertension, heart […]

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7 Steps To Prevent Accidental Poisoning In Dogs

Every year people lose a beloved dog to some kind of accidental poisoning. In most cases that poisoning could be prevented if the pet owner used reasonable care with certain products around the home.

Various medications made for people have resulted in dog illness and death.

Medications such as:

  • NSAIDS ( i.e. advil, motrin),
  • Acetaminophen ( i.e.Tylenol)
  • Antidepressants
  • ADD/ADHD medications ( i.e.Ritalin, concerta,)
  • Benzodiazepines (xanax,ambien)
  • Birth control
  • ACE inhibators (i.e. zestril or Altace,)
  • Beta blocker (i.e. Teprol, coreg)
  • Thyroid hormones
  • Cholesterol lowering agents, are just some of the many medications that can harm your dog.

While these are the most common medications that vets see in dog poisoning cases, any human medication may prove deadly to your dog.

Following these 7 steps to keep your medications out of your dogs reach and prevent accidental poisoning will result in less worry for you and a safer, healthier life for your dog.

  1. Always keep medications tightly closed and high up out of the reach of your dog. Even the best behaved dog likes to explore and finding that plastic medicine bottle may well look like a chew toy to him.
  2. Never medicate your dog with a human medication unless specifically advised by your Veterinarian and then only use the recommended dose and only for the condition it is prescribed. If in doubt contact your vet and double check.
  3. Don’t assume because a medication is safe for a child it is safe for your dog. Pets metabolize medications far differently than humans and something that may be mild and harmless for a child may be deadly to your pet.
  4. Don’t leave loose pills of any kind in a zip lock bag. The pills showing through the bag are an invitation to your dog to explore and zip locks are easy to rip open. Again keep medications in safe containers and out of your dogs reach. Encourage guests in your home to also keep their medications high up or locked in their suitcases.
  5. If you store your medications in a weekly pill container,make sure that this container as well as the medicine bottles are out of your dogs reach.
  6. Never store medications for your pet along side your medications. Having a separate place for your pet’s medications will prevent any accidental mix up.
  7. Always hang your purse up even if you aren’t carrying medications it is a great habit and dogs can get sick from cosmetics as well so it is better to be safe than sorry.

By keeping all medications out of your pets reach you can help keep your beloved dog safe and reduce the risk of accidental poisoning greatly. If your pet does ingest any human medication either over
the counter or prescription, please call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison helpline immediately.

The Helpline’s 24 hour number is (888) 426-4435.

Keeping the helpline number posted prominently near the phone may save your dogs life in an emergency.

Download your free Pet Poison Guide from the ASPCA

Hyperthyroidism in Cats


hyperthyroidismHyperthyroidism is the most common hormonal disease of cats. It is rare in dogs. The thyroid gland is located in the neck area and functions to regulate the metabolic rate. In hyperthyroidism, the gland becomes overactive. Most of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are related to an increase in metabolic rate, stimulated by the overactive thyroid.

How Hyperthyroidism Occurs
Middle aged and older cats are most prone to hyperthyroidism. The cause, in most cases, is a benign tumor of the thyroid gland. Malignant tumors are uncommon. The thyroid tumor produces excessive quantities of the thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. These hormones are secreted into the bloodstream where they act upon all body tissues.

What the Disease Does
The most common signs of hyperthyroidism are weight loss, increased appetite, increased thirst and urination, hyperactivity, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some hyperthyroid cats will act aggressive. Stimulation by the thyroid hormones make the heart beat faster, a condition called tachycardia that is detectable by your veterinarian during a physical exam. Other heart abnormalities that can result include heart murmurs, abnormal heart rhythms, and high blood pressure. Eventually, heart damage and blindness may occur. Hyperthyroidism increases the blood flow to the kidneys, which has a flushing effect that can mask the signs of kidney failure.

How to Find Out if Your Cat Has Hyperthyroidism
Diagnosis begins with a good physical examination. Your veterinarian may be able to feel the enlarged thyroid gland. He will also check for heart problems. A simple blood test can detect high levels of T4. If your cat tests normal, but has symptoms of hyperthyroidism, your veterinarian may perform additional tests. Cats that test positive should have a complete blood panel to check for organ failures that may be hidden by hyperthyroidism.

Treatment for Hyperthyroidism
Before starting treatment for hyperthyroidism, the veterinarian must determine whether the cats kidneys are functioning properly. Once thyroid hormone levels return to normal with treatment, blood flow to the kidneys will be decreased. If significant kidney damage exists, this can trigger life-threatening kidney shutdown. A comprehensive blood panel and urinalysis provides some information about kidney function. Newer, more sensitive tests may also be recommended.

The most conservative option for treatment is daily medication given as a pill or a topical gel. This is not the most effective, and can have side effects. However, it is beneficial for temporary initial treatment. It may also be the safest long-term approach for cats with kidney failure. Side effects of drug treatment include poor appetite, vomiting, lethargy, hair loss and scabs on the face, and damage of the liver or bone marrow. Drug treatment does not cure hyperthyroidism, so medication must be given for life. Regular monitoring of thyroid levels and blood pressure are also required.

Options that provide a true cure for the condition are surgery and administration of radioactive iodine. Radioactive iodine treatment has the advantage of a very high success rate, while avoiding the risks of anesthesia and surgery. The radioactive material is given as a single injection. It specifically targets the thyroid, destroying a portion of the tissue. The disadvantage is that the treatment is only available at certain specialty facilities.Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists located in Houston has such a facility. Visit their site to learn more about radiation therapy. Feline Hyperthyroidism Also, the cat must be hospitalized for up to ten days to allow the radioactive material to be safely eliminated. Occasionally, too much thyroid tissue is destroyed, causing hypothyroidism. This requires lifelong treatment with oral medication.

Surgical removal of thyroid tissue can also be curative. The disadvantage of surgery is that it can be more risky, especially for cats that have heart problems. The parathyroid glands, tiny pieces of tissue located near the thyroid can be damage during thyroid surgery, resulting in problems with blood calcium control. As with radioactive iodine treatment, surgery can sometimes result in hypothyroidism.

A new alternative treatment involves simply changing your cats diet to a restricted iodine diet. The researchers at Hill’s Pet Nutrition have launched the diet Y/D that restricts the levels of iodine that are required for the cat to produce the thyroid hormone. Without the iodine the cat’s level of thyroid hormone drops to normal levels and will stay in the normal range as long as the cat eats the Y/D exclusively.

We have several cats on the Y/D diet protocol right now and the levels have returned to normal and the cats are all doing well.