Natural Remedies for Hypothyroidism in Dogs

Dr. Group
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. Chen W, et al. "Astragalus Polysaccharides: An Effective Treatment For Diabetes Prevention In NOD Mice.". Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 June 2017.
  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

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