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D2002-16

Dear Daisy Dog

My dog is getting heavier and more sluggish as she gets older. Her hair is thinning, and her skin is dry. What supplement do you recommend?

Daisy Responds

Your dog may not be showing her age at all. The signs you describe are typical of hypothyroidism, so ask your veterinarian to examine her and draw some blood to check her thyroid function.

The two thyroid glands in the neck secrete hormones that control a variety of metabolic functions. In hypothyroidism, the underactive thyroids produce too little hormone, so metabolism is slowed.

In addition to the classical signs you describe, affected dogs sometimes have recurrent infections because their immune function is diminished.

If your dog is hypothyroid, her blood work will show low levels of thyroid hormones, especially T4. She may also have an increased TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone, which is produced by the pituitary gland to stimulate the underactive thyroid to produce more T4.

Treatment is simple: she will take a thyroid supplement daily for the remainder of her life. Your veterinarian will periodically re-check the thyroid hormone level in her blood to be sure her dose is right.

In just a couple of months, she’ll look and feel as good as I do!

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