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Hypothyroidism|Thyroid Issues in Older German Shepherds

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

If your older German Shepherd has been feeling a little off lately, he may suffer from hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition that causes the thyroid gland to underproduce thyroid hormone, which then causes the metabolism to slow. If left untreated, hypothyroidism can result in weight gain, lethargy, and a host of other health problems.

In this #LifeWithOldDogs® blog post and podcast, we'll discuss hypothyroidism, how to spot the signs, and the treatment options available. We hope you find this information useful!

What Causes Canine Hypothyroidism?

The cause of hypothyroidism in older German Shepherds is a hormone imbalance resulting from inflammation or shrinkage of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located near the trachea, or windpipe, and has two lobes, one on each side of the trachea. Thyroid hormone levels are affected once the thyroid gland is damaged to a certain extent.

What Are The Signs Of Canine Hypothyroidism?

  • Weight gain

  • Change in appetite

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Lethargy

  • Mental dullness

  • Thinning coat

  • Bald patches

  • Darkened or Blackened skin

  • Flakey skin

  • Thickened skin

  • Cold intolerance

  • Reproductive issues

  • Lack of coordination

  • High cholesterol levels

  • Slower heart rate

  • Infection (skin, toenails & ears)

  • Seizures

  • Heart problems

How Is Canine Hypothyroidism Diagnosed?

Your vet will perform a physical examination, including feeling the thyroid for a mass. Additionally, a blood test is needed to check for hypothyroidism. The test will screen for Free T4, total T4, or Thyroxine, and T3 testing, or Triiodothyronine levels. Additional testing may be required to determine the extent of the disease.

Treatment for Canine Hypothyroidism:

The treatment for hypothyroidism is relatively inexpensive and straightforward. Treatment involves a prescription pill for the synthetic thyroid hormone, such as Levothyroxine or L-thyroxine, which is typically administered daily.

Regular check-ups and blood work will be needed to monitor his thyroid levels for the remainder of your older German Shepherd's life.

Prognosis For older German Shepherds With Hypothyroidism:

Hypothyroidism is a common endocrine disease in older German Shepherds, but with early diagnosis and treatment, the prognosis for your fur friend is generally reasonable. Many enjoy long survival times with an active quality of life. The key is to GET treatment because, if left untreated, hypothyroidism can have serious consequences.

To listen to the coinciding #LifeWithOldDogs® podcast, click on the link below:


***** Disclaimer: Throughout the "20 Most Common Health Issues in Senior German Shepherds" series, each blog post is expressed explicitly from our point of view and is not to be substituted for the professional medical expertise of your trusted veterinarian.


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