Treating Hypothyroidism: What to Watch For

November 10, 2016
American Veterinarian Editorial Staff

Diane Levitan, VMD, DACVIM, from Peace Love Pets Veterinary Care, discusses treatment for hypothyroidism.

Diane Levitan, VMD, DACVIM, from Peace Love Pets Veterinary Care, discusses treatment for hypothyroidism.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“The most common treatment for hypothyroidism is supplementation of thyroid hormone, and that tends to really fix the problem very well.

We want the thyroid hormone level to ultimately be in the high/normal range so we can assume that they are well controlled. Some problems that veterinarians have is that they don’t test the animal at the right time after giving a pill. It’s very important to test at 4-6 hours after giving the thyroid medication in the morning because that is where our standard of controls are, to determine whether or not we’re in the correct range. So that’s something to also watch out for.

In order to determine whether or not our patient is responding properly to hypothyroidism treatment, we want to look for improvement in their overall demeanor. We should see that the problems we noticed prior to treating are resolving such as skin infections, ear infections, weight gain, and probably energy, as well.

Really look at the whole picture of the animal. Make sure that their blood tests resolve, that their cholesterol is becoming normal, and that they are overall feeling better. If you find the animal is not responding as well as you’d like, then I would double check how the owners are giving the medication; double check that they are giving the medication (and properly); and consider that maybe we need to either increase, decrease or perhaps stop this therapy, [because] we may not be on the right track.”