Last updated on December 10, 2016
Hormones are involved in so many different canine ailments and diagnoses that it’s time to answer this question: Could your dog’s hormones be out of whack? Well, maybe. At the very least, monitoring a dog’s hormones is a good idea to keep him or her happy, healthy, and in balance. See how many of these different disorders and medical issues you related to a dog’s hormones.
What is The Endocrine System in Dogs?
These glands: Pituitary, adrenal, thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal
The ovaries, testicles, and pancreas
Imagine all of those hormones being released by the endocrine system to all of the different cells and systems of the body and you can start to realize the impact a change in hormonal levels might have on a dog’s overall well being.
The Thyroid Gland
One of the most common hormone imbalances in dogs is that of hypothyroidism. Perhaps at a yearly veterinary visit, your dog has blood drawn for thyroid testing. Whenever the prefix ‘hypo’ is used, this indicates lack of deficiency of a hormone.
“The thyroid hormone is involved in basically all metabolic functions including hair growth and wound healing,” writes W. Jean Dodds, DVM. “When the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone or is dysfunctional, wounds do not heal normally or fast enough, so the body is more susceptible to infection.”
As a dog mom to a Cocker Spaniel with hypothyroidism, I know firsthand how a proper diagnosis can change a dog’s entire demeanor. Monitoring the dog’s blood levels and adjusting her medication dosage meant restoring the dog’s energy level and improvement of her coat.
Dr. Dodds reports that dogs need to have their T4, FT4, T3, FT3, and TGAA antibodies tested for an accurate diagnosis.
Obesity and Diabetes
It is estimated that over 54 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. Many of the same weight-related endocrine (and other) disorders that affect people also affect our pets. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is one such disease wherein the body continues to produce insulin but the cells no longer respond.
Excessive thirst, frequent urination, boost in appetite, unexpected weight loss and fatigue are some signs of diabetes in dogs, reports petMD.
One of the more commonly reported symptoms of hormonal disorders, hair loss (alopecia) or any sort of abnormal skin condition may be related to an imbalance of reproductive hormones.
As a Cocker mom of nearly 25 years, I’ve seen my fair share of dog parents whose Cockers have been affected by Cushing’s or Addison’s disease. When a dog produces too much of the cortisol hormone, Cushing’s can result. The Merck Veterinary Manual reports that Cushing’s aka hyperadrenocorticism, is a common endocrine disease in adult and aged dogs.
Addison’s disease, on the other hand, is caused by a deficiency of adrenal gland hormones and most commonly affects young to middle-aged dogs.
Spay and Neuter: Too Soon?
Long a source of contention and debate in the pet parent and veterinary world is when a dog should be spayed or neutered. As a dog mom to a twice-affected Cocker Spaniel with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, this is a very hot topic to us.
Genetics do play a huge part in ACL ruptures, there is a school of thought (with veterinary evidence) that too early spaying/neutering plays a part, too. This could be due to the stress placed on ligaments from bone growth issues.
Hormones: A Visual Peek
Whenever I read a canine medical piece like this blog post, I like to also see what the body systems “look like” to keep my dog’s health in check.
Because hormones are present in the bloodstream in very small quantities, Merck Vet Manual states that laboratory test done to measure hormone levels must be very sensitive.
Here is the dog endocrine system and where the glands are located.
Medicine Vs. Mom
To provide you the most accurate information and to give you a full perspective of health-related issues, we enlist the assistance of Rachel Sheppard of My Kid Has Paws blog for her side of things. As a former vet tech, Rachel shares her take on a dog’s hormones in the latest Medicine Versus Mom series with Fidose of Reality. Click here to read Rachel’s take on hormones and dogs.
Does your vet regularly monitor your dog’s hormonal levels? Has your dog ever experienced an endocrine disorder?
Share your thoughts in the comments!