8 Things You Need to Know About Iodine Deficiency in Dogs

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on

Dogs need iodine too!

When it comes to our pets’ health, it doesn’t always register that they too can suffer from nutritional deficiencies. We take such good care of their safety that we may overlook the spectrum of nutrients their bodies require. As a result, many dogs don’t receive enough necessary nutrients (some of which are also lacking in the average human’s diet). Iodine, for example, is essential for thyroid health — in humans and animals — yet most of us don’t get enough and neither do our dogs.

Iodine supports your dog’s metabolism and helps them produce thyroid hormones. When iodine levels are too low, also known as hypothyroidism, weight, energy, and mood imbalances are common. Although most commercial dog food does contain iodine as potassium iodide, potassium iodate, sodium iodide, or calcium iodide, it’s important to make sure your dog is getting enough. A rough estimate is at least 0.7 milligrams of iodide per pound of dry food every day; however, this varies based on your dog’s size and age. Without enough iodine, an iodine deficiency can result.

Here are 8 things you need to know regarding the role iodine plays with your dog’s health.

1. Not Enough Can Lead to Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a common hormonal disorder in dogs. [1] It can stunt growth, cause thirst, hair loss, lethargy, and weight gain. Some people even report that their pets experience a change in behavior — usually depression or aggression. The disorder develops when there is a deficiency of the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) — often caused by insufficient dietary iodine. [2]

2. Different Dogs are Affected Differently

Iodine deficiency is most common in medium- to large-sized dogs between 4 and 10 years old. [3] Some breeds, including Doberman Pinschers, Irish Setters, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Old English Sheepdogs, Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, Boxers, Poodles, and Cocker Spaniels are more predisposed to hypothyroidism than others. [4] Iodine deficiency is also more common in dogs that have been either spayed or neutered.

3. Commercial Dog Food May Not Be Reliable

A 2011 study discovered some commercial dog foods have an imbalance of the minerals and vitamins necessary for keeping your dog healthy — iodine included. [5] You need to check your dog food label just as you check the label on your food. Careful review of the ingredients is the best way to assure your dog is getting the iodine they need. If there are shortages in, it may be necessary to find another brand, make your own, or supplement your pet’s nutritional needs.

4. Fish Can Be a Fix

Other than choosing a dog food that includes “fish” as a first-listed ingredient, incorporating an iodine rich food like fish into your pet’s diet can provide supplemental iodine. Fish is a great source of iodine and offers calcium and protein, too. Choose only wild-caught, low-mercury fish like sardines, flounder, and fresh salmon.

5. Sea Vegetables Are Better

If you prefer vegan options in your house, then seaweed may be a better choice. Seaweed has an abundance of naturally occurring iodine and is a great way to supplement your dog’s nutritional needs. [6] Brown and red seaweeds, such as kombu, contain the most iodine. One caveat… given the ongoing status of Fukushima, it’s a good idea to be mindful of the source and purity if any sea vegetables your pet (or you) consumes.

6. Iodine Deficiency Poses a Cancer Risk?

Maybe, maybe not. But, one thing we are sure of is that thyroid cancer and other tumorous diseases in dogs decreased from 48% in 1982 to 3.2% in 2002 just by the introduction of iodine in commercial dog foods. Even if the ratios are off, iodine is a crucial component in your pet’s diet. [7]

7. Testing Can Determine Your Dog’s Iodine Status

Not sure if your pet’s iodine needs are being pet? Your vet can help. Proper diagnosis includes a thorough medical history, documentation of clinical signs, a thorough physical examination, and diagnostic tests to assess various organ functions, including (but not limited to):

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Biochemical profile
  • Urinalysis
  • Thyroxine (T4) level
  • Free-T4 level
  • Canine TSH test

8. Synthetic Hormones Are an Option

Maybe not the best option but sometimes hypothyroidism is addressed with synthetic hormones in effort to repair the thyroid. A veterinarian will regularly monitor your dog’s iodine levels to determine whether or not hormone therapy will be a life-long or short-term requirement. This decision depends on the level of iodine deficiency and the extent of damage to the thyroid. Most hormone treatment is temporary and given only until iodine levels (and other health markers) come into balance.

One Final Thought

Prevention is the first step against iodine deficiency in dogs. Make sure you’re giving your pet a quality pet food (making your own is an option) with all necessary nutrients, especially iodine. Supplementing your dog’s diet with iodine-rich foods, like fish and sea vegetables, may be especially helpful for supporting your dog’s health. If you suspect your dog has an iodine deficiency, a visit to the vet may provide you the information necessary to avoid permanent damage to the thyroid.

What do you do to keep your dog healthy? Have you ever tried feeding your pet seaweed or fish? Leave a comment and share your tips!

GHC youtube Video

Watch an In-Depth Video on
Everything You Need to Know About Iodine

Video Length: 60 minutes

References (7)
  1. Scott-Moncrieff JC. Thyroid disorders in the geriatric veterinary patient. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice. 2012 July;42(4):707-25, vi-vii. doi: 10.1016/j.cvsm.2012.04.012.
  2. Bojanic K, Acke E, Jones BR. Congenital hypothyroidism of dogs and cats: a review. New Zealand Veterinary Journal. 2011 May;59(3):115-22. doi: 10.1080/00480169.2011.567964.
  3. Meeking SA. Thyroid disorders in the geriatric patient. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practic. 2005 May;35(3):635-53.
  4. Rijnberk A, Kooistra HS, Mol JA. Endocrine diseases in dogs and cats: similarities and differences with endocrine diseases in humans. Growth Hormone & IGF Research. 2003 August;13 Suppl A:S158-64.
  5. Dillitzer N, Becker N, Kienzie E. Intake of minerals, trace elements and vitamins in bone and raw food rations in adult dogs. British Journal of Nutrition. 2011 October;106 Suppl 1:S53-6. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511002765.
  6. Rey-Crespo F, López-Alonso M, Miranda M. The use of seaweed from the Galician coast as a mineral supplement in organic dairy cattle. Animal. 2014 April;8(4):580-6. doi: 10.1017/S1751731113002474.
  7. Aupperle H, Gilesche K, Schoon HA. Tumors of the thyroid gland in dogs--a local characteristic in the area of Leipzig. Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr. 2003 April;110(4):154-7.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Jon Anthony Hamilton

    is your Detoxadine a good iodine source for dogs?

  • Great question! Yes it can. Pets can take 1 drop per day for each 25 pounds they weigh. Detoxadine® can be given directly in the mouth or added to food.

  • Kate

    I add Solid Gold’s Seameal to my dog’s food. I’m glad I saw this article and will be ordering the Detoxadine for myself and she may get a little as well.

  • Great! Please be sure to send us your feedback.

  • TuckFyranny

    My 8 year old Golden Retriever just got a low thyroid reading. I was told the number was on the low end of “normal” at 0.9 (normal being 0.8 to 3.5). Also, his weight has increased from 70 to 87 lbs in 3 months (following being neutered) and I’m concerned for his health.
    The Vet wants me to supplement with medication (hormone replacement) but I hear this is a life sentence as it will not heal the thyroid but do its job for it. I personally am using Survival Shield X2 iodine in detox and am wondering if 2 drops per day would do him good. I am also cutting his food intake by 30%. Is there anything else I can do and should I use the X2.

  • There are a lot of people who give their dogs supplemental iodine. Let us know what kind of result you get.

  • I always give my dogs (Rottie & Rattie) some sardines added to their dry food. I am vegetarian and all through my lifetime of dogs only the terriers liked veggies, vegetable juice and even seaweed but none of my larger dogs would try them. Terriers are always up for everything!

  • cowgirlnu1

    I am the owner of a 2 year old male great dane with significant hair loss, anxiety and weight gain issues. I also have a 10 month old bull mastiff with hair loss and demodex early on. I have been giving both of them supplemental iodine. Lugols J Crow 2% iodine/potassium iodide solution daily. I have noticed a big reduction in hair loss in just a short time. I have been doing iodine supplementation myself for about 6 weeks and love the energy and loss of pain I once had daily.

  • mimi

    Do you use it orally? If yes, try transdermal application. It’s safe and it works! Rub 2-3 drops on Lugol’s iodione on your wrists (the skin is thin there). Neck or behind the ears would be safe in dogs (they cannot lick it). According the studies from 1930’s, about 12% of iodine is absorbed and stored under the skin for about 24 hours, from where the body can use it as needed. I had elevated level of TSH, then used iodine transdermally for about a month before retesting and TSH level dropped by 0.8 to normal level.

  • Mandi Winnicki

    Does anyone know how much iodine supplement to give a dog? By pound? I have two small dogs. 10 and 15 pounds the 15 pounder needs to loss some weight, I have been adding more daily exercise and watching food portions.
    I feel like iodine is helping me and was wondering if it will help my doggies.

  • Invest_It

    I give my dogs Lugols Iodine 7% solution with their dry food daily. My 16 ish pound Jack Russell gets ONE DROP from the dropper which equals about 6.25 mg. and my Australian Shepherd gets 2 DROPS = 12.5 mg.
    Just like humans you need to make sure they are getting enough of the companion supplements, like selenium, so their bodies will utilize the Iodine correctly. I would suggest reading up on iodine and companion supplements for humans to help educate yourself. My dogs dry food has just about enough of the other supplements except the mineral salt.
    My dogs daily regiment is a raw egg with celtic sea salt then coconut oil and butter for their good fats.
    At night they each get dry dog food and drops of Lugol’s Iodine.

  • Invest_It

    My dogs daily regiment is a raw egg with celtic sea salt then coconut oil and butter for their good fats.
    At night they each get dry dog food and drops of Lugol’s Iodine.

    I give my dogs Lugols Iodine 7% solution with their dry food daily. My 16 ish pound Jack Russell gets ONE DROP from the dropper which equals about 6.25 mg. and my Australian Shepherd gets 2 DROPS = 12.5 mg.
    Just like humans you need to make sure they are getting enough of the companion supplements, like selenium, so their bodies will utilize the Iodine correctly. I would suggest reading up on iodine and companion supplements for humans to help educate yourself. My dogs dry food has just about enough of the other supplements except the mineral salt.

  • freedomdove

    May I ask how you determined that your dogs need that much iodine daily? I only take 6.25mg a day of the 5% and I’m a 100-pound human, so giving that much to a small dog seems too much. Did you have a holistic vet providing dosage information? I have a friend who wants to dose her little pug but we can’t find professional advice on how much to give him.

    Thank you.

  • Invest_It

    I take 50 to 100 mg of Lugols Iodine per my holistic MD. I spoke with my MD and my vet neither thought the low dosage of 6.25 and 12.5 respectively for each of my dogs was too high.
    We have a FB page for the same info if you want to check it out, “Iodine for pets + other homeopathic info”

  • freedomdove

    Okay, thanks very much for your reply.

  • GMO Roberts

    Here again pigeon if we had gmo salt it could take care of the iodine issue as well!!

  • serena

    freedomdove ?
    you should know by now that everyone’s “”needs”” vary for basically everything.
    if this individual is giving that amount to her pets, and observing behaviors and physical condition and NOT seeing damage that is what those 2 animals require.
    i give a 50 pound heeler crossed w/sheepdog a half tab of iodoral daily Xs a week every month and IF this dog manifests gastric problems and she has a bad habit of eating just about everything out in the fields leading to the odd bouts of diarrhea–she will get that half a tab iodoral a few days after the iodine clears out that infection in her gut-
    i am doing this for over a year and HAVE NOT seen anything injurious or negative appear-
    again, everyone’s needs vary.
    maybe to google and find a dosage table for lugols from back when which would include a pediatric dosage routine by weight…

  • freedomdove

    I do know that everyone has their own level of “need” for nutrients. I also know that you can get too much of something and not necessarily realize that it’s happening. This is especially true for animals who can’t tell you all their symptoms. I was just wondering if they had someone give them instructions for dosage since it seemed a bit high to me for the dog’s weight, compared to what I take. Their vet doesn’t seem to think it’s too much, so that was my answer. I might not give an animal so much, but it’s obviously okay for this particular dog owner.

    What would be really nice is a cheap and accessible universal iodine deficiency test for humans and animals. I’m not sure the urine loading test works on animals. IMO, there just hasn’t been enough research done on iodine sufficiency in mammals other than humans. They might have different needs than humans. It’s not impossible to harm the thyroid with too much iodine, so I guess I’m just more on the cautious side.

  • Rick

    I buy powdered sea vegetables, encapsulate them wrap it in a pill
    pocket toss to your friend and that’s it, done.

  • Janie Whitley

    I’m using 2 drops in my 1 yr old shelties water supply same as I use for myself. If anyone knows if I’m not doing this right PLEASE let me know.. ty

  • Janie Whitley

    I have always given my large collies TBS of coconut oil in their dry food with healthy results but don’t know if it will help with your problem.. google the benefits of coconut oil and dogs.

  • Carrie Barton

    You can not go off what the gov’t tells you the right amount is for humans. I went to a Nutritionist and there amount was way more then what they actually tell you. Iodine use to be in our foods but was taken out. HMMMM wonder why that was. Do your research.

  • freedomdove

    I *have* done my research on iodine deficiencies. Not much has been done with animals, however.

  • Jacob McDaniels

Top Selling Supplements

Colon Cleanser Oxy-Powder® is the top quality colon cleanser. Promotes optimal colon health and regular bowel activity. Learn More

Liver Cleanse Kit This complete liver cleansing kit is a comprehensive approach to cleansing your liver. Learn More

Get to know Dr. Group

  Our Company




  • Global Healing Center
    2040 North Loop West, Ste. 234
    Houston, Texas 77018
    Telephone: 713-476-0016
    Toll Free: 1-800-476-0016
  • Contact Us