Feline Hyperthyroidism: Symptoms and Treatments

Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 03:07 PM.

“Left untreated, the cardiac complications related to hyperthyroidism can be life-threatening,” Cook said.

Hyperthyroidism can be treated three ways: medication,radioactive-iodine, or surgery.

Traditionally, medication is the main way to treat thedisease.  For this option, an anti-thyroid medication is given to decrease the amount of the hormones released from the thyroid glands.  This is relatively inexpensive, but the drug must be given once or twice daily for the rest of the cat’s life. Also, side effects can include vomiting, anemia, lethargy and bone marrow suppression.     

“Some owners have a hard time getting the medication in to their cat,” Cook said. “We can get it reformulated in to a liquid if this is easier, and sometimes we use a product that is rubbed into the ear and absorbed that way.”

Radioactive-iodine therapy is becoming increasingly popular when dealing with hyperthyroidism in cats. For this long-term treatment, the cat is injected with the radioactive iodine, which destroys the tissue of the overactive thyroid gland.  Although this procedure is usually very effective, it is more expensive and requires the cat being confined to the hospital while the radioactivity decreases.

“This is one of the best ways to treat this disease, and the choice I made for my own cat when she was hyperthyroid,” Cook said.

Surgical removal of the thyroid gland(s) is another option available for this disease.    Although the long-term success rate is good, there is a risk of damage to the parathyroid glands, located close to the thyroid gland.  The parathyroid gland is responsible for maintaining proper calcium blood levels. 

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