What are thyroid problems in cats and how can I prevent this from happening?
By Claude West (cat man)
In General, older cats may develop a hyperthyroid condition and dogs are just the opposite they develop a hypothyroid condition. For cats, this means that the thyroid glands are over producing several types of thyroid hormones. Thyroid problems in cats. This causes an increased heart rate and blood pressure that can lead to additional problems. Like rupturing of capillaries in the eyes and the kidneys if left untreated.
In a hyperthyroid condition, the thyroid gland is usually enlarging and producing more hormones than normal. The thyroid hormone helps to regulate many of the body’s metabolic systems such as heart rate. A hypothyroid is when the thyroid tissues slow down hormone production. This can be due to genetic or immune system disorder.
There is no one specific item causing thyroid problems in cats. Interesting to note that veterinarians did not report this condition as prevalent prior to the early 1970’s. There are several factors that research suggests causing an increase.
1. Environmental exposure to fire retardants in the home
2. Canned fish or giblet varieties, food preservatives and soy compounds in cat food.
3. Iodine intake in some foods.
4. BPA (bisphenol A) leaking out of the white lining in canned cat food.
No single item has proven to be the direct cause. Experiments show that all of those can cause problems with the thyroid gland.
Diagnosis of thyroid problems in cats is a combination of specific blood tests and the typical signs and symptoms of the cat. Here is a quick list of the symptoms and note that not all cats have all of these. Many will be apparent when the condition gets worse.
• Hyperactive, increased energy, or nervous energy
• Increase appetite with weight loss
• Thirst and urination increasing
• Increased heart rate
• Vomiting more than normal
• Soft stools or diarrhea
• Anxiety, confusion, aimless wondering and night yowling
• Changes in hair, skin and nails
• Increased respiratory action, heavy breathing or panting
• Depression, apathy, weakness, and loss of appetite starts early in some cats and more is seen more often in late stages of the disease
In summary on thyroid issues in cats:
Prevention can be difficult because there are many possible causes that trigger a thyroid gland into overproducing hormones. The first control you have is the quality and type of food you feed your cat. A cat in the wild survives by eating insects, small mammals, birds, reptiles and even certain herbs. How close you can mimic this natural diet will improve your cat’s overall health and immune system.
Fire retardants may be one cause and you have is to refuse or eliminate adding “scotch guard” stain resistant chemicals to your upholstery or carpets and rugs. PBDE’s (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) used in stain resistant compounds and flame-retardants in draperies and even house dust becomes contaminated.
Thyroid issues in cats:
Avoid canned cat food that use an inner white lining and added soy compound to the cat food. Fish also is a potential carrier of toxic compounds and you should limit the amount that you feed your cats. Find foods low in Iodine but often the labels do not give you that information. Best solution is to make your own cat food. Here is a great link to Dr. Pierson’s site that provides many dietary solutions and medical advice for cats, http://catinfo.org
Available treatments for thyroid problems in cats.
Treatment for cats with thyroid problems via chemotherapy requires daily doses of medicine to block the hormones. You will have to dose them for life. Surgical removal of the thyroid glands would be better. Problem there is the thyroid tissue may exist in other parts of the body causing multiple surgeries.
The best and most practical method is to treat the cat with an Iodine radioisotope (radiation therapy). This method will kill all of the thyroid tissue and some stomach lining and usually is effective in a single treatment. Cats having this therapy return to normal in a matter of weeks and the therapy is not as invasive as surgery.
Dr. Karen Becker provides a good recap of hyperthyroidism in cats:
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