Feline Hyperthyroidism

Feline Hyperthyroidism (high thyroid) is a metabolic disease that we see incredibly frequently in our practice (and really across the board in all general practices). There have been a number of studied factors that may be contributing and/or causing this disease in cats. Some theories suggest it may be fish flavored cat foods, the chemicals in our homes/environments (such a building code required fire retardants found in carpets, furniture), etc. Since iodine accumulates in the thyroid glands preferentially, it seems possible that this may be a related factor (such as iodinated chemicals in foods or the environment). Hyperthyroidism can cause a number of severe and progressive health problems in cats such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, retinal detachment, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, and heart disease (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). It is easily diagnosed with a thorough examination (such as thyroid gland enlargement, heart murmur, weight loss, etc) as well as senior labwork testing (T4, ALT, anemia, kidney changes), blood pressure measurement, and heart ultrasound (echocardiogram) and EKG (electrocardiogram evaluation). There are highly effective treatment options including radiation therapy (of iodine-131 as a single subcutaneous, under the skin, injection), oral medication (methimazole), and in very rare cases surgical removal of enlarged thyroid gland(s). Senior labwork and physical examinations are highly recommended in cats over 6-7 years of age at least every 12 months, and in some cases more frequently (every 6 months) in cats with compatible symptoms. Early identification/diagnosis and early intervention dramatically improves positive prognoses/outcomes for affected cats.

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