You’ve started to notice that your dog has started to put on a few extra pounds. You’ve made no changes to his diet and you still walk him daily, yet his new curves are discernible.
At this point, you may have a sharper eye out for other strange changes. If you are also noticing hair loss or behavioral changes, your dog may have hypothyroidism. This is a condition that disables the thyroid gland from producing enough of a hormone called thyroxine, which controls metabolism.
When visiting your vet, you will want to make sure to describe any other medications that your dog may be on. This includes painkillers such as Tramadol or other steroids. If your dog is on Tramadol or a similar medication, it may affect the results from his blood work, which in turn could lead to a misdiagnosis of the condition.
Once your veterinarian is confident with their diagnosis, they may prescribe you with a drug called Levothyroxine.
This is one of the most commonly used prescriptions for hypothyroidism. It is a replacement therapy medication that produces the thyroxine hormone that your dog’s body is unable to produce by itself.
Levothyroxine comes in a variety of dosage sizes so it is easy to get an appropriate prescription for any dog. The usual dose amount is 0.1 mg per 10 pounds of body weight and the medication comes in sizes from 0.1 mg to 1 mg. The dosage of Levothyroxine is very important, as I will address further on in this article.
Levothyroxine should be taken orally. This may seem like a problematic situation to some owners but there are many simple ways to get your dog to accept his pill.
After consulting your vet on the proper dosing (i.e. if your dog may take it with food – many times it will be suggested to give it on an empty stomach), the below suggestions may help you come medication time.
Levothyroxine is available in a chewable tablet but many dogs may turn their nose to this. Following that, food is the next obvious choice in tempting your dog.
Many dogs will easily accept a pill that has been wrapped in a small piece of cheese, lunch meat, or a dog treat; in fact, they have hollow treats on the market made specifically for this reason.
If your dog is quick to outsmart you, he may not accept the treat. Worse yet, he could be sneaky enough to enjoy the treat and manage to spit the pill out. If this is the case, you may need to work to manually get the medication
down your dog’s throat (a prospect that may seem quite hindering).
Some dogs don’t mind their loving masters reaching in and pressing a pill down their throat. However, as expected, many are very opposed to it. One helpful device to avoid this situation is called a pill gun.
A pill gun is a plastic injector that you place the pill in and use to “shoot” the pill into your dog’s throat; this is much gentler than it sounds! Instead of wrestling with your dog, trying to get your fingers down his throat, you simply press down and the pill is gone. You’ll avoid accidental bites and your dog will likely not even notice the pill (which will help prevent any uncertainty building when your dog sees you coming towards them with that pill).
Although somewhat tricky to begin with, both you and your dog will soon get into a habit and dosing time will likely not present any more challenges.
Safety And Side Effects Of Levothyroxine
It is considered a safe drug and has very few side effects. Usually when they do occur, it is due to an overdose of the medication.
Dosing too high an amount of the drug will cause symptoms such as constant hunger, excessive thirst, and frequent urination. You may also notice heat sensitivity or overly excitable behavior.
If you do observe any of these symptoms, seek your veterinarian immediately and ask that the dosage be reevaluated.
Some breeds of dogs will also be more susceptible to overdosing; these include sighthounds such as Greyhounds, and giant breeds such as Irish Wolfhounds.
In these dogs, you will want to make sure that the proper bloodwork is done by your vet and that you carefully monitor for any symptoms of overdose. If you are concerned, speak to your vet about starting with a lower dose and slowly building up.
If your dog also suffers from diabetes, you may have further concerns when starting on Levothyroxine. In these cases, it is important to, again, start your dog on a lower dose and slowly build up over several months’ time. Your vet will likely also recommend decreasing insulin amounts because hypothyroidism causes insulin resistance
itself, so treating with Levothyroxine will affect this.
Can You Use The Human Levothyroxine For Your Dog?
Humans are no strangers to hypothyroidism and we are also not unfamiliar with Levothyroxine. In fact, it is one of the most common medications prescribed for thyroid issues.
So you may be thinking “two birds, one stone” and that you can dose your dog with your own prescription of medication.
However, Levothyroxine is not prepared the same for humans as it is for animals. There are specific formulations of the medication used in the treatment of animals versus humans, so you will not want to try and substitute the drug for your own supply.
Once the diagnosis has been made and the medication has been prescribed, you may be feeling a little unease. Of course – your dog is experiencing a troubling problem and medication can be a scary prospect.
However, Levothyroxine is one of the most popular choices of treatment for a reason. The many dose levels available
allow veterinarians to treat the condition quickly and, usually, with ease. Hopefully these details will have
helped put your mind, as owners, at ease as well.