Thyroid Disease in Dogs

By Ben Sweeney

The thyroid gland is an almost mythical part of the body that everybody knows exists but nobody is quite sure where it is, what it does and what happens when it goes wrong.

So, let’s take a whistle stop tour of all things thyroid so that you know what to look out for in your dog!

What is the thyroid gland?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland that is responsible for producing hormones that regulate your dog’s metabolism, digestive function, bone maintenance and brain development.

The most important of the hormones that it produces are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).

Where is the thyroid?

The thyroid gland sits at the front of your dog’s throat, just below the larynx (the bit that humans call the Adam’s Apple) as you can see in the above image from the PDSA. In a normal dog, you won’t be able to feel or see the gland but it is there. Working away to keep your happy hounds body in a perfect state of metabolic balance.

How does the thyroid work?

This is where my inner geek gets really excited as the thyroid is one of those hormones that demonstrates just how clever the body is, but also how everything in your body exists in a state of fine balance.

If the picture shown below blows your mind, don’t worry, it is described in a bit more normal English below.

So, in order to produce and release hormones the thyroid has to get a message from somewhere. So, we have a really catchy name for it: the hypothalmic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis (I know it just rolls of the tongue, right?).

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