Natural Remedies for Hypothyroidism in Dogs

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on
A golden labrador retriever. Hypothyroidism in dogs occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.

There are many diseases that are prevalent among both humans and animals. Although humans and animals do have anatomical differences, some disorders affect each in similar ways. Endocrine disorders affect many people and hypothyroidism in dogs, characterized by low thyroid function, is becoming more common. Indications like reduced energy, vitality, and growth are common indicators something may be off. Although there is a prescription drug market for pets, research suggests natural remedies are available.

What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, can occur in dogs. When your dog’s thyroid isn’t working correctly, it can create health issues and unnecessary suffering. [1] Behavioral changes are common in dogs suffering with hypothyroidism; unfortunately, aggression is commonly reported. When a puppy’s thyroid is off, delayed or abnormal growth is likely. [2] Additional symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs include:

  • Lethargy
  • Weight gain
  • Slower heart rate
  • Weak muscles
  • Anemia
  • Hair loss
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Eye issues
  • Intolerance to cold

Causes of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs most often in middle-aged and geriatric dogs; genetic predisposition is thought to be a primary cause. [3] However, the disorder may be caused by an autoimmune mechanism within the body. Known as autoimmune thyroiditis, the body mistakenly attacks thyroid tissue. [4] [5]

More commonly, however, veterinarians believe the main contributing cause of hypothyroidism in dogs is the consumption of a processed, grain-based, high-carbohydrate diet. It seems that the problem with dog food is similar to the problem with most people food, they lack the essential minerals the thyroid requires — namely iodine and zinc. [6] [7] [8]

Natural Remedies for Hypothyroidism in Dogs

Natural remedies for thyroid issues have become more popular as pet owners have become more skeptical about pharmaceutical treatments — both their effect and cost. While medicine has its place, many people seek to at least inquire about the natural and holistic options. Plants like fenugreek, stinging nettle, and kelp are some of the better choices for promoting normal thyroid function. [9]

Fenugreek

Known for its great flavor, fenugreek is as common in the kitchen as it is in the cabinet of natural remedies. But how does fenugreek help an underperforming thyroid? Well, in the case of autoimmune thyroiditis, research suggests fenugreek has the ability to inhibit T3 and T4 hormone levels that are directly responsible. [10]

Kelp

Kelp and seaweed are popular among people who wish to nourish their thyroid. Why? Because sea vegetables are an amazing source of iodine, the nutrient the gland needs in order to produce thyroid hormone. There’s no law that says sea vegetables are for humans only; add to your pet’s food and allow them to experience the benefits too!

Astragalus

Astragalus is a Chinese herb best known for its ability to promote normal blood pressure and blood sugar. It is also used to revitalize the endocrine system and the thyroid gland. [11]

Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettle has many uses as a natural remedy. It’s used to regulate metabolism, balance thyroid and adrenal glands. Nettle is also very nutritionally dense. It’s a good source of antioxidant compounds and protective vitamins like A, B, and C. [12]

Be Proactive

Stopping problems before they start is easier than dealing with them once they’ve got a foot in the door. Taking inventory of your pet’s diet is a great place to begin. Since selenium and iodine deficiency may be involved in some cases of hypothyroidism in dogs, supplementing your pet’s diet with these nutrients may be something to consider.

Additionally, if you don’t already, consider cutting out the nutritionally deficient store-bought pet food and just make your own. It’s not that hard and a natural, raw or cooked grain-free diet devoid of processed ingredients can provide higher-quality nutrients your pet needs for good health.

Have you had a dog that suffered from hypothyroidism? Leave us a comment below and share your experience!

References (12)
  1. Scott-Moncrieff JC. Thyroid disorders in the geriatric veterinary patient. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2012 Jul;42(4):707-25, vi-vii. doi: 10.1016/j.cvsm.2012.04.012.
  2. Greco DS. Pediatric endocrinology. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2006 May;36(3):549-56, vi.
  3. Meeking SA. Thyroid disorders in the geriatric patient. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2005 May;35(3):635-53.
  4. Bellumori TP, Famula TR, Bannasch DL, Belanger JM, Oberbauer AM. Prevalence of inherited disorders among mixed-breed and purebred dogs: 27,254 cases 1995-2010. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2013 Jun 1;242(11):1549-55. doi: 10.2460/javma.242.11.1549.
  5. Rijnberk A, Kooistra HS, Mol JA. Endocrine diseases in dogs and cats: similarities and differences with endocrine diseases in humans. Growth Horm IGF Res. 2003 Aug;13 Suppl A:S158-64.
  6. Dillitzer N, Becker N, Kienzle E. Intake of minerals, trace elements and vitamins in bone and raw food rations in adult dogs. Br J Nutr. 2011 Oct;106 Suppl 1:S53-6. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511002765.
  7. Bojanic K, Acke E, Jones BR. Congenital hypothyroidism of dogs and cats: a review. N Z Vet J. 2011 May;59(3):115-22. doi: 10.1080/00480169.2011.567964.
  8. Aupperle H, Gliesche K, Schoon HA. [Tumors of the thyroid gland in dogs--a local characteristic in the area of Leipzig]. Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr. 2003 Apr;110(4):154-7.
  9. M. Fialkovicova, I. Skardova , L. Kolodzieyski, M. Kozak, M. Tuckova, L. Palenik, M. Benkova, T. Weissova, E. Sesztakova. The dysfunction of the thyroid gland and opportunities for homeopathic treatment on dogs. Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences 6(6):556-562, 2003.
  10. Panda S, Tahiliani P, Kar A. Inhibition of triiodothyronine production by fenugreek seed extract in mice and rats. Pharmacol Res. 1999 Nov;40(5):405-9.
  11. W. Chen, Y.-M. Li , M.-H. Yu. Astragalus polysaccharides: An effective treatment for diabetes prevention in NOD mice. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 2008; 116(8): 468-474DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1058081
  12. Carla Marrassini, Cristina Acevedo, Jorge Miño, Graciela Ferraro, and Susana Gorzalczany. (2010). Evaluation of antinociceptive, antinflammatory activities and phytochemical analysis of aerial parts of Urtica urens L. Phytotherapy Research. doi:10.1002/ptr.3188

†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.

  • Neslie

    My five year old Great Pyrenees was just diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Because of the severe weight gain (40
    pounds) we started him on thyroxine. I have personal auto
    immune issues which I’ve been able to control by diet. I’d like to do the same for him. If we start him on an all-natural diet with supplements such as kelp, will we be able to stop giving him the thyroxine once he loses weight?

  • Perhaps but you’ll want to check with your vet first.

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  • Bingaling

    my dog a 16yr old staffy x whippet was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism , he has all the symptoms except the weight gain , he actually looks thinner though he weighed the same now as he did about 2 months ago , he is on soloxine at the moment but is there anything else i can give him to help? thank you

  • Depending on all the related causes… if he’s not getting enough iodine, you can always give him Detoxadine.

  • Tim Long

    Dr. Edward F. Group lll,
    My name is Tim and I resuced the sweetest cocker spaniel back in 2010, the owner was going to take her out and shoot her because he no longer wanted her. She was 4 years old and 37 pounds, a big girl but not overweight, she has big paws and a big head but she wasnt overweight even though I thought that was big. Looking back now I’d LOVE to see 37 again, she is now 8 years old and 70 pounds, I know thats a lot but I’ve been trying to get weight off and keep it off since I found out she had a weight issue but I’ve been losing the battle! She was severely abused, and I think her diet before I got her, which they were hardly feeding her, kept her small but when you’re starved you dont gain weight!

    I had her Thyroid tested for years and I was always told it was normal, but come to find out it was a VERY LOW NORMAL, a 1 on the scale of 1-5 and looking back on her records It was 2 something at one time in about 2012. Her vet has put her on Thorxine and I was wondering if it was ok to give her a supplement to TRY TO RESTORE the function of the thyroid back to normal? Also, she has always had allergies where she would claw her chin bloody if I didnt scratch it for her and in between her toes really bother her too. I see the whole picture now, her low T4 is supressing her immune system, I’m thinking, and its not only causing her to have really Itchy chin and paws but I have a hard time with her ears getting infected so I’m constantly putting Posate in her ears for the infection to just TRY to keep it under control but it seems like they are getting infected more and more so I’m constantly having to keep drops in them.

    When I recued her, her ears were severely infected and she wouldnt even let me touch them to check because they hurt her so bad, she was eat up with fleas, she was a dark alburn red which I thought she was a redhead but it turned out to be mud, they NEVER gave her a bath!! She also had intestinal worms and her hair looked to never had been cut. She’s the sweetest little girl(I’m 6’3″ and 245 pounds so I tell her she will ALWAYS BE my little girl since its all in perspective) She loves to walk and play with her toys but her weight is keeping her from walking as much as she wants too. Recently she has gotten to where she will cough sometimes for no reason, walking makes her cough sometimes but most of the time it doesn’t, her doctor says the cough comes from her weight. She had an Echocardiogram on her heart and they said it was normal size and just fine, thank God and I want to keep it that way but I KNOW I need to get weight off of her! Her cough has been getting worse and her doctor gave her some Hydrocod for surpressing it but again I want to get the weight off instead of just treating the symptom.

    I have her on Natures balance, 7% fat and the wet food mixed and she gets a half of a cup 3 times a day, not much I know but she still holds onto her weight and keeps gaining slowly but I have her at a steady weight but she isnt losing any of it and I feel bad cause I know shes hungry but I’m fighting keeping the weight off! In the evenings she also gets some treats, not many but I know my gjrl is hungry.

    I havent let the doctor give her her shots since I got her in 2010, her rabies of couse but not the others like the boardatella and distemper because I believe those shots had something to do in my 1st cocker spainel dying, her name was Angel. Jasmine had a Tarter test earlier this year and it showed that the level of the vaccines from 2010 were still in her system and she didnt need those shots anyway! They give them theses shots every year so you know they are WAY OVER vaccinated if it was still in her system. Anyway, shes not around any other dogs so her doctor said she would be fine.

    I’m just trying to understand what would be the best way to treat her thyroid which I believe is affecting everything else and wondering what you would suggest giving her that is all natural. I saw all of the things listed in your post but do I give her all or what?

    Here are a few questions if you could please help me:
    1) Jasmine is on Thyroxine for her thyroid, what would you recommend me giving her thats all natural to help increase her thyroid Level and get it working like it should again and should I keep her on the thyroxine and how do I know if the supplements are working? Of course I know I should test her T4 level, it was recently checked Dec 5, 2015 and it was a 5 but that was a peak, only 3 hours after her taking her Throxine .03 but how do I know when to stop giving her the throxine if I ever can?
    2) Is the Thyroxine bad for her taking it or hurting her long term? I was told since that is what her body produces it was fine because it was normally naturally occuring!
    3) You mentioned fixing a home made food diet for our dogs, but what? How would I know the calorie intake? Its so easy for Jasmine to gain the weight but not able to get it off. I just dont know what or how much to feed her without it going to fat.

    I guess all my questions could be summed up by asking want can I do for my girl to help her thyroid, stop her itching and ear infections and what would be the best low calorie homemade diet with the best nutritional value to help her lose weight?

    I’m sorry for so many questions but I Just dont know what else to do for her and I just dont trust conventional vets anymore, they just want to treat the symptoms and not the underlying cause and its all about the money to most vets nowadays, the more in and out the more money and noone cares about our Furbabies like we do, but I dont have a Holistic vet anywhere close by to me in Kannapolis North Carolina if I did I would have already been to see them.

    I Love my little girl and I’ve been walking her everyday 3 or more times a day for the last 3+ years and its not from the lack of trying that she isnt losing weight, she has the heart of a Lion, she is dedicated and she really tires and she should be losing weight, it breaks my heart seeing her struggle to carry all that weight and people see her and think I’m over feeding her which just makes me mad because if they just knew how hard she tries and I try!!

    I will stop going on and on but if you could please help me help my little girl I’d be forever grateful and I would glady pay you for your help or a holistic vet who could help me and the sooner I get her on something to treat her thyroid the better. Thanks for your time to read this and thanks for your help in advance and Jasmine thanks you!

    God Bless,
    Jasmine Daddy (Tim)

    P.S. I know my post is long and you probably wont be able to answer all of it or most of it but I had to try, there is so much information online and I just dont want to do the wrong thing and hurt her instead of help her. So again I’m sorry for the long post.

  • Adgey

    I was wondering if you can advise me on my dog he’s a miniature jack Russell he’s had Addison’s disease now for over 2 years he’s on florinef and Pred, he’s started to lose his hair which am very concerned about his bloods have only just become stable after all these years!! If I didn’t push and push my vets he wouldn’t even have stable results.. Am still not happy he’s still weak most days and his hair loss also.. He eats and drinks as normal and loves TREATS but I just don’t feel like he’s normal just yet!.. I’m trying to reduce his pred he was on 2.5 mg now he’s on 1mg and eventually I would like him to be on no pred only Florenf. I’m worried for him 🙁 any advice on what foods to feed him? He’s on grain free food ATM

  • Hey Tim,

    I can tell you love your dog, she’s fortunate to have such a caring owner. I’m not a vet and this is a casual forum so I don’t want you to take it with too much absoluteness, I’m just thinking aloud on some of what you mentioned… I don’t know enough about the thyroxine or her needs to really give much opinion there. If iodine deficiency is part of the trouble, we have had good reports from people who gave Detoxadine to their pets. Again, I’m not sure what’s causing her thyroid problems and that could be way off base. As far as the caloric sum of any dog food you might make, a quick Google search will tell you how many calories are in carrots, potato, meat, etc. She’s getting a lot of love and that’s the best thing!!

  • Hard to say! Has he responded to any herbal therapies?

  • Tracy Black

    Hi Dr Group – our gorgeous Rocky (3yr old chocky lab) has just been diagnosed with Thyroid issues and has been prescribed a medication for life. I’ve recently discovered the healing properties for humans and when asking my vet about a natural remedy she scoffed at me. Rocky has major skin problem, ear infections and is overweight even though he’s on Eukanuba weight loss and now Demeralogical feed. where do I start please kind sir? Trace from Manly Australia

  • I couldn’t say for sure that iodine deficiency is the problem but it might be something to check out. It does happen. Here’s a little more info on the subject.

  • I hate to pass the buck but there’s a lot of specialized things to consider there, you might want to confer with other dog owners who can provide some personal insight into their experiences (and if any can reply to this that’d be great). I know there’s a group on Facebook that is active and growing:

    https://www.facebook.com/natural.dog.health.remedies

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  • Kathy

    My 8.5 year old wire haired dachshund was just diagnosed with hypothyroidism – her T4 level is 0.6. She was not showing any symptoms but had blood work done before having her teeth cleaned. The vet has given me 0.1mg Thyro-Tabs to give her twice daily and recommends vitamin E (50-100iu) at least 3 times a week. She wants my dog to be retested in about six weeks. Because she is not overweight, walks daily, and has shown no signs, I prefer to try a more natural approach to treating her.
    For the last year and a half I have been making homemade food from chicken thighs and veggies that I mix with a high quality kibble. I would very much appreciate suggestions on this issue. Thank you.

  • Bonnie Blum

    I have been dealing with hypothyroidism for the past 15 to 20 years. Symptoms include excessive weight gain, low energy, nonexistent libido, brittle nails, dry skin, tired all the time, anemia, insomnia, aches and pains, and depression. Instead of being cold, I am always hot. Sometimes I can’t sleep because my feet are so hot so I have to go stand in a snow bank or cold water in the tub. I have tried watching what I eat and do lots of exercise, but really struggle to lose weight. In the past 4 years my TSH has been anywhere between .05 and 14.32. Ferritin runs between 46 and 86. I was desperate for help to help me feel better. i was introduced to Health herbal clinic in Johannesburg who have successful herbal treatment to hypothyroidism . I spoke to few people who used the treatment here in USA and they all gave a positive response, so i immediately purchased the hypothyroidism herbal formula and commenced usage, i used the herbal supplement for only 7 weeks, all symptoms gradually faded away, herbs are truly gift from God. contact this herbal clinic via their email healthherbalclinic @ gmail. com or visit www. healthherbalclinic. weebly. com


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