+372 50 80 660 Õismäe tee 115A, Tallinn
Mon-Fri: 9-20 | Sat, Sun: Closed
Haabersti Loomakliinik
+372 50 80 660 Õismäe tee 115A, Tallinn
Mon-Fri: 9-20 | Sat, Sun: Closed

Endocrine diseases of dogs

+372 50 80 660 Õismäe tee 115A, Tallinn
Mon-Fri: 9-20 | Sat, Sun: Closed

Hypothyroidism is a fairly common disease of the endocrine system in dogs. It is most often an acquired disease caused by immune-mediated damage or idiopathic ( reason unknown) atrophy of the thyroid gland. There are other causes of hypothyroidism (neoplasia of the thyroid gland or hypothalamus, infections, iodine deficiency, medications), but they are extremely rare. Hypothyroidism significantly lowers T4 level in blood; can be primary (i.e., problem comes directly from the thyroid gland, which is unable to produce T4 hormone (95% of cases), secondary to problems in the hypothalamus when thyroid stimulation is impaired (very rare) or congenital (also very rare). The average age of occurrence of disease is 7 years. Dogs of large breeds (Golden Retrievers, Dobermans, German Dogs, Irish Setters) are more susceptible, but there is a predisposition in small breeds (cocker spaniels, miniature Schnauzers, dachshunds, poodles). However, note that hypothyroidism can develop in any middle-aged dog. 

The most common symptoms of hypothyroidism are lethargy (dogs become more lethargic, sad), weight gain and the appearance of symmetrical alopecia (baldness). The latter may be accompanied by pyoderma (inflammation of the skin). Diagnosis includes a detailed anamnesis and examination, a general blood test and T4 (these two tests are performed locally), and TSH hormone (sent to Laboklin, Germany). 

Treatment of hypothyroidism consists of medication to increase the T4 hormone in the blood. Treatment is lifelong and requires periodic monitoring. Progress is clearly visible and comes quite quickly. Dogs become active, alopecia gradually disappears, the quality of skin and coat significantly improves, weight returns to normal. 

Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism) is another common endocrine disease in dogs. The most common cause is bilateral adrenal hyperplasia caused by a neoplasm or hyperplasia of the pituitary gland (80-85% of cases). Less commonly, it can be caused by a neoplasm in the adrenal gland itself. In about half of the cases, the neoplasm is malignant. Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications (for example, to control allergies) may also be the cause. Hyperadrenocorticism significantly increases the level of cortisol in the blood, which leads to the disruption of the entire body. 

The main symptoms of Cushing’s disease are polyuria, polydipsia, and polyphagia, which is manifested by frequent and abundant urination and increased water and food intake. You can also observe a significant  increase size of the belly , the coat becomes dull, sparse. Skin problems, weight gain, weakness, etc. may occur. Diagnosis includes a detailed anamnesis and examination, general blood test, biochemical blood test, urinalysis, abdominal ultrasound, ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) stimulation test – all performed locally, and cortisol blood level analysis (performed in a laboratory in Tallinn, results arrive within 1-2 days). 

Depending on the etiology of the disease, treatment can be surgical or medical.  In the case of a tumor process in one adrenal gland, adrenectomy, i.e. removal of the damaged adrenal gland, can be considered. If we are dealing with so-called central hyperadrenocorticism (i.e. the root cause is in the pituitary gland), treatment involves the lifelong use of encapsulated drugs and periodic monitoring. If the disease was provoked by prolonged use of corticosteroid drugs, then the only treatment is to cancel these drugs. 

Since Cushing’s disease is central in most cases, you most often have to choose lifelong medication (unfortunately quite expensive). The prediction, however, is very favorable. If you follow all the recommendations of the doctor, as well as in the absence of complications and concomitant diseases, improvements occur quite quickly. The appetite returns to normal, frequent urination and copious fluid intake disappear, the quality of the coat improves, and skin problems are resolved. However, it should be noted that in the treatment of hyperadrenocorticism, periodic monitoring of the level of cortisol in the blood is extremely important; with uncontrolled treatment, the reverse pathology can develop – hypoadrenocorticism or Addison’s disease,which can be deadly.

Frequently asked questions

At what age can a cat be spayed?

Cats (females) become sexually mature when they reach a body weight of 2 kg. That is, a cat that weighs 2 + kg, regardless of its age, is considered sexually mature. The cat's heat depends on the length of the day, the more light, the faster the cat comes to "hunt". The cat's hunting period is from spring to fall, when there is the most daylight. Cats that live indoors have daylight at all times, since there is electric lighting. Thus, cats that live with people who have more than 14 hours of daylight a day - can come to "hunt" all year round, regardless of the time of year.

NB! There are two terms: spaying and castration. Sterilization involves manipulation to prevent fertilization, such as ligation of the seminal cords in males or ligation of the fallopian tubes in females. In castration, the internal sexual organs are removed (testes in males, ovaries +/- uterus in females). These 2 terms are very often confused and misused. Most often, pet owners use the term "castration" for males and "spaying" for females.

We perform castration (i.e. removal of internal sexual organs of both male and female).

We also perform early castration (spaying) - from 2 months of age.

Answer: The operation can be performed when the cat weighs 2 kg (or more).

Do animals need to be given an internal parasite medication before vaccination?

Adult animals should be given an antiparasitic before the annual vaccination if the owner does not use preventive deworming - that is, if he does not use internal worming medication 2 times a year, at least.

If preventive deworming is carried out systematically - then, before the annual vaccination it is not necessary to give a medication for internal parasites. Be sure to use the treatment before the first vaccination for puppies and kittens - as they are most likely to have worms.

Preventive deworming is a one-time use of an antiparasitic agent.

In the presence of worms - a treatment regimen is necessary, which depends on the type of worms, age of the animal and risk group in which the animal lives (e.g. kennel, shelter, multi-cat house, overnight stay, street housing, etc.). In this case, you need to consult a veterinarian.

Cats that live exclusively at home, preventive treatment against internal parasites is also necessary.

Cats that live only in doors, preventive treatment against internal parasites is also necessary.

Kittens and puppies should be treated at least once a quarter during their first year of life.

Answer: puppies and kittens BEFORE the first vaccination is mandatory, treatment of adult dogs and cats is carried out regardless of vaccination.

Is it necessary to vaccinate domestic cat?

Cats that live only in doors should also be vaccinated - because owners can bring the infection from the street on their shoes. For example, feline plague (or feline panleukopenia) is still common and frequent.

The most important thing is to properly vaccinate a young animal (kittens and puppies) early in its life. Vaccination of a young animal is carried out in 2-3 stages. The last vaccination should be given at over 16 weeks of age.

Further vaccination regimens depend on the lifestyle and risk group of the animal. Vaccination of domestic cats can be carried out every 2-3 years.

Answer: yes, it is.

How to understand if a cat is sick?

Cats are very secretive animals and are very good at disguising ailments. Cats very rarely show signs of acute pain - cats don't cry or scream. The most common sign of malaise is a change in the cat's behavior and a change in its normal daily routine. A cat that is not feeling well - refuses to eat, is lethargic, does not respond to owners, refuses to play or make contact, lies in a forced posture, not relaxed, etc. No one can see the slightest change in the cat's behavior better than the owner himself.

Answer: as soon as you notice that something has changed in the cat's behavior and daily routine.