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When a pet’s body overproduces the thyroid hormone, it increases their metabolism, potentially resulting in weight loss, anxiety, diarrhea, and a multitude of other symptoms. This condition, known as hyperthyroidism, is fairly rare in canines but increasingly common among cats. Hyperthyroidism is a condition that usually affects older pets and is most likely caused by multiple factors.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats: 

  • Depression or hyperactivity
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlarged thyroid gland
  • Excessive thirst
  • Forced breathing
  • Heavy, rapid breathing
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased urination
  • Nervousness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shaggy hair texture
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Treatment options for cats with hyperthyroidism

There are three primary forms of therapy used to treat hyperthyroidism depending on the severity of a cat’s particular case as well the cause behind the issue. When a pet owner opts for non-invasive treatment, medication is prescribed that inhibits the production of thyroid hormones. By preventing the pet’s body from making more of these hormones, the symptoms usually subside.  This is a lifelong medication.

Other treatment options are more involved, requiring pets to undergo monitoring and stay at a referral clinic for several days but can permanently solve hyperthyroidism. Surgery comprises of the veterinarian removing the thyroid gland entirely, though it is usually only performed when one gland is causing problems so that the body still has one functional gland remaining. If both thyroid glands are removed, the opposite condition, hypothyroidism, can result. When a tumor is causing overactive thyroid, radioactive iodine therapy is usually the treatment of choice. In liquid form, radioactive iodine destroys thyroid tissue without harming any other bodily tissues. Eventually the iodine is passed out of the cat’s body through the urinary tract, but until this takes place, the cat will be held in isolation to prevent exposing other pets or humans to the radioactive materials.

If your cat is exhibiting the symptoms of hyperthyroidism or you have more questions about the condition, please contact our office today.