It isn’t just humans that suffer from Thyroid Disease – pets do too:
Meet Stan, the cat who couldn’t stop stealing his owner’s dinner, no matter what was on the menu.
While most cats would leap at the chance to swipe a piece of unattended chicken, moggy Stan, 15, was caught tucking into pizzas, spaghetti meatballs and anything else he could get his paws on – until his owner, Michelle Townley, decided that something wasn’t right.
Pharmaceuticals company MSD Animal Health is now sharing Stan’s story as part of Thyroid Month – an initiative launched to raise awareness about Thyroid disease in dogs and cats and to encourage pet owners to talk to their vets about potential thyroid problems.
“He was looking for food constantly, despite having just been fed,” Michelle, who is a vet by profession, said, “And he was drinking a lot more water than usual too. But somehow he was starting to lose weight, rather than piling it on.
“As a vet, I knew what signs to look out for, but even then the symptoms of hyperthyroidism can be very subtle and difficult to spot. It wasn’t until I caught him on the kitchen counter on several different occasions, hunting out the covered food and tucking into our dinners that I knew something was definitely wrong.
“Cats will often try and steal a bit of chicken here or there if it’s left for the taking, but Stan was ruining entire meals! Pizzas, plates of spaghetti meatballs – anything he could find, he would scoff the lot.”
According to Michelle, Stan was also stealing other cats’ food and just wasn’t being ‘himself’, becoming less cuddly and more anxious, despite all the extra snacking.
“As well as an increased appetite and unexplained weight loss, the biggest sign is a change of behaviour. A cuddly cat might become more irritable, a quiet cat might become more hyperactive and restless,” Michelle added.
“Stan is normally a complete teddy bear but he didn’t want to cuddle anymore and he became quite insular, wanting to stay indoors all day.”
After noticing the signs, Michelle took Stan to get tested for hyperthyroidism and sure enough, the test came back positive.
A straightforward procedure, the appointment involved a blood test and a general check-up including listening to his heart, since one of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism is an elevated heart rate.
“The test is really easy and the results came back very quickly, confirming that Stan suffered from an overactive thyroid. It meant that his thyroid was producing too many hormones, creating increased appetite, irritability, unexplained weight loss, high blood pressure and increased thirst,’ Michelle said.
Two years on from his diagnosis and Stan is now living a happy, healthy lifestyle – free of pizza and meatballs.
“He was given a daily treatment which is tasteless and really easy to administer – so easy in fact, that we can still go away for a few days and have our neighbours treat him while we’re not at home,” Michelle explained.
“Within two weeks of treatment he was back to his old self, playing, cuddling, going outside – and no longer scoffing everything in sight!
“Now, he lives a normal life and goes for regular check ups at the vet to make sure everything is as it should be.”
Weight loss and increased appetite are among the most common clinical signs of hyperthyroidism in cats. Excessive thirst, increased urination, hyperactivity, unkempt appearance, panting, diarrhea and increased shedding have also been reported.
If left untreated, the condition can lead to elevated heart rate, excessive weight loss, high blood pressure which can cause retinal bleeding and consequently blindness, heart problems and a shortened life span.
Michelle explained: “As a vet, I managed to catch the signs in Stan relatively early, but many pet owners might associate the weight loss and irritability simply with old age. Most cats who suffer from hyperthyroidism do so when they get older – Stan was 14 when he was diagnosed. But I’ve seen cases in cats as young as seven or eight.
“If your pet is showing any signs of unexplained weight loss, behavioural changes, heightened appetite or increased thirst, seek advice from your local vet as they could be suffering from a thyroid problem.”
About Your Pets Thyroid Gland:
The thyroid gland is a small gland located in the dog and cat’s neck. Although relatively small, the thyroid gland plays a huge role in their body, making several different hormones.
These thyroid hormones influence the function of the body’s most important organs,
including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin. Ensuring that the thyroid gland is healthy and functioning properly is vitally important to yours pets overall well-being.
There are two main types of Thyroid disease – Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) and Hyperthyroidism (over-active thyroid).
What is Hypothyroidism?
This is the most common endocrine disease affecting middle-aged medium to large breed dogs.
The majority of canine cases result from the body’s immune system destroying the thyroid gland, leading to a wide range of symptoms such as weight gain, lethargy, tendency to seek out warm places in the home, a poor quality coat, and recurrent skin and ear problems.
What is Hyperthyroidism?
This is the most common endocrine disease affecting middle-aged to older cats, where the thyroid gland produces too many hormones, often associated with increased appetite, unexplained weight loss, hyperactivity, increased heart rate and deterioration in coat quality.
Both conditions can be diagnosed via simple blood tests with your vet.