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Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic Blog

When Good Skin Goes Bad: Thyroid Disease in Pets

A beige colored cat lays on a light brown floor near a cream-colored couch

The thyroid gland can be a very interesting topic. This small gland in the neck area has a lot of power over our bodies. The thyroid plays a major role in regulating metabolism, and when things go awry, there can be consequences..

Thyroid disease in pets can trigger a variety of symptoms, including problems with the skin. The Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic  wants pet owners to understand how thyroid problems and skin problems can be intertwined. 

The Almighty Thyroid

The bilobed thyroid gland, found in both people and pets, is an integral part of the endocrine system. This bodily system is responsible for the production of hormones and includes not only the thyroid but the adrenal glands, pituitary gland, and sex organs (ovaries or testes). 

The thyroid produces (you guessed it) thyroid hormone, which directly impacts the metabolism. 

There are two main aberrations of normal thyroid function:

Hyperthyroidism — Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is producing too much thyroid hormone. Mostly diagnosed in middle aged to older feline patients, hyperthyroidism results in a hyperactive metabolism. Symptoms can include increased appetite, weight loss, digestive dysfunction, hyperactivity, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and vocalization.

Hypothyroidism — Hypothyroidism is the production of too little thyroid hormone. Mostly a dog disease, a pet with hypothyroidism is typically sluggish, overweight, and may have dermatological changes. 

Skin Problems and Thyroid Disease in Pets

Many systemic diseases can affect the skin, and thyroid disease in pets is no different. As your pet’s skin experts, we understand that these conditions must be diagnosed and treated before we can make headway in getting your pet feeling better. 

When a pet’s thyroid gland isn’t behaving normally, we can see skin problems including:

  • Recurrent skin infections
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Hair loss
  • Excessive shedding
  • Thickened skin
  • Overgrooming in cats
  • A dull haircoat
  • Greasy or matted fur 
  • Poor hair regrowth after clipping
  • Increased skin pigmentation
  • Increased wax production in ears

Some forms of hypothyroidism are caused by an autoimmune disease, and, similar to Hashimoto’s disease in people, can predispose the affected pet to other autoimmune problems. 

Diagnosis and Treatment

When testing for thyroid problems in pets, bloodwork is needed. We often recommend looking at several blood values related to the thyroid gland to paint a complete picture about what is going on. One blood value may not be enough to be diagnostic, particularly in the case of hypothyroidism..

Treating any existing thyroid problems is pets is essential when it comes to improving skin health. If you are concerned that your pet may be affected, don’t wait, call us. Early action is important for your pet’s overall health and well-being, and we are here to help.