Do you know that the cat's thyroid function is hyperactive? Also known as hyperthyroidism, this is a fairly common condition in older cats. In fact, the vast majority of infected cats are over 10 years old. In most cases, the cause is benign thyroid tumor or benign enlargement.
What is hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism means that the thyroid gland works too long and produces too much thyroid hormone. Because this hormone controls many organs, it can lead to multiple consequences:
Weight loss, despite increased appetite
Vomiting and/or diarrhea
Irritability or aggressive behavior
Increase drinking and urinating
Speed up heart rate
Inferior hair coat
Occasionally, a fat-bellied sofa with a beautiful hair will become a skinny old cat with rough fur and running around like a madman in the house.
How to diagnose hyperthyroidism?
Because some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism may be similar to other diseases, it is important to conduct a comprehensive study. This starts with a thorough physical examination. Your veterinarian can often feel small nodules on the thyroid gland.
Blood tests, including measurements of thyroid hormone levels, are the next logical step. Increased metabolic rate of hyperthyroidism can hide kidney problems and cause cardiac complications, so monitoring should be performed before and after starting treatment. This requires blood tests, X-rays and ultrasound.
How to treat hyperthyroidism?
There are several treatment options:
Methylimidazole is a drug that is resistant to hyperthyroidism. It is usually given by the mouth every day. Methylimidazole can also be formulated into a cream that is applied to the skin or ears every day (transdermal use), which is a lifelong treatment.
I know that at least one special diet is very low iodine that was introduced a few years ago. If your veterinarian recommends doing this, this is the only food that your cat should eat for good results.
Veterinary endocrinologists believe that IV radioactive iodine treatment is the gold standard for hyperthyroidism.
Surgery to remove a tumor is an option, although it is less and less common. This is a very delicate operation, but on a good hand, it is very successful.
What is the risk of thyroid surgery?
In addition to the risk of anesthesia (see common anesthesia mythology), one of the main risks of surgery is damage or accidental resection of the parathyroid glands. There are two parathyroid glands on each side: one inside the thyroid gland and one outside the thyroid gland. When we removed the thyroid, we removed the "internal" parathyroid glands. If we remove two thyroids, then we cut off the two parathyroid glands. So there are only two parathyroid glands left. If they are accidentally removed, accompanied by a large thyroid mass, or if they are damaged during surgery, then three or even four parathyroid glands may be removed.
Therefore, cats may have a complication called hypocalcemia, which means that calcium levels in the blood are dangerously low.
What drugs are needed after thyroid surgery?
In addition to conventional analgesics and antibiotics, treatment is needed if hypocalcemia (low calcium) occurs. This is usually done by administering calcium supplements and/or vitamin D. As time passes, as the body slowly takes over, their dose gradually decreases. In addition, once the cat has eaten enough food, it will provide calcium.
What is the result of hyperthyroidism treatment?
Thyroid cancer (adenocarcinoma) is an invasive tumor, but thankfully it is very rare. The result is usually very bad.
Benign tumors (adenomas) and benign thyroid enlargements are more common and have a better prognosis. However, the outcome also depends on whether the complication occurs in the kidney or the heart. Most cats lived for several years after initial diagnosis.
Just like any disease, the sooner you solve it, the more choices you have and the better the results. If you have any problems with your cat, please go to your vet as soon as possible.