Feline Hyperthyroidism and Thanskgiving Tips for Your Pets
This month we will look at a condition that affects many cats in households: feline hyperthyroidism. In addition, we also have some Thanksgiving tips for you!
Hyperthyroidism describes the condition in which a cat’s thyroid glands produce too much of the thyroid hormone due to a benign non-cancerous adenoma over 97% of the time. About 1 to 2% of cases will be due to malignant carcinomas. The typical onset of the disease is about 9 years and up and it may be potentially correlated to the use of fire retardant materials in homes that utilize polybrominated diphenyl ethers [PBDEs]. It is the most common endocrine disorder in cats.
When a cat has hyperthyroidism, the elevated thyroid hormones increase the cat's metabolic rate which stresses the heart, kidneys, nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, liver and other organs. The cat will metabolize food at a faster rate leading to increased hunger and weight loss. If left untreated, hyperthyroidism is fatal. The most common first signs are weight loss and increased appetite with weight loss affecting 95 to 98% of hyperthyroid cats. Cats may also develop heart disease from hyperthyroidism such as an enlarged heart due to metabolic stress. Resulting hypertension also hastens the advances of renal disease and negative affects the cat’s liver values. Other symptoms include: excessive thirst, increased urination, hyperactivity, unkempt appearance, panting, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Diagnosis is made by blood work. A general CBC panel will rule out other causes of symptoms, but a separate panel is needed to determine the elevated levels of T4. An elevated level of this hormone indicates hyperthyroidism. There are three treatments for hyperthyroidism. The first one is taking oral medications for the duration of the cat’s life. Lab work must be done throughout the cat’s life to evaluate the continued efficacy of the medication and to evaluate blood cell counts. Secondly, the cat may have radioactive iodine therapy. Treatment with radioactive iodine is very effective but is only performed at specific veterinary practices such as the Feline Hyperthyroid Center. As with medication, the cat will require routine lab work after the procedure to ensure the treatment was effective. Finally, some cats may have surgical removal of the affected thyroid gland, though this is not for every patient. Discuss your cat’s best options with your vet.
Though hyperthyroidism can be fatal if left untreated, your cat’s disease can be managed in a variety of ways. Routine annual lab work should be done on all middle-aged cats to monitor for hyperthyroidism as well as other conditions.
Finally, we would like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving Holiday. Here are some tips to keep your pet safe!
- Don’t let guests feed your pet scraps
- Avoid giving your pet turkey bones and skin
- Avoid giving your pet anything with fresh onion, garlic, raisins, or grapes.
- Never give your pet alcohol
- Don’t give your pet products with Xylitol, an artificial sweetener
- Do keep your pet in another room while cooking dinner
- Do remove all food refuse from your home so your pet can’t raid the garbage
- Do give your pet lean, skinless white turkey meat
- Do give your pet vegetables such as green beans (but not the green bean casserole!)
- Do have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday and be thankful for the love your pet brings to you every year.