Meet our patient of the month for March, Trooper!
Trooper is a 17 year old feline patient that Dr. Dickey diagnosed with hyperthyroidism a few months ago. Hyperthyroidism is a fairly common disease in middle-age to geriatric cats. Signs of hyperthyroidism can include: weight loss, especially with an increased appetite, restlessness, poor or dull coat quality, rapid heart rate, increase in water consumption, vomiting, and weakness or depression. In Trooper’s case, the only sign he was showing was some weight loss.
Testing for hyperthyroidism involves a blood test that we perform here in the clinic, and results are usually given within the same appointment. Hyperthyroidism is usually caused by a benign, or non-cancerous, tumor on the thyroid gland. It can sometimes be felt by a veterinarian during an examination of the neck, however, this is not always very common.
Treatment for hyperthyroidism comes in a few options. The most common treatment is surgery. Trooper had surgery a few weeks ago and is doing great! Surgery is usually very quick, and although anesthesia is always a risk, if caught early enough, is very safe for the cat. The veterinarian will extract the thyroid gland (cats have two glands), along with the tumor, leaving the other gland to maintain normal thyroid function. Another option if surgery is not feasible, is diet change and a daily medication to lower the thyroid hormone levels. This medication will help reduce symptoms of hyperthyroidism, but will not cure the disease. The last option is by administering radioactive iodine, which like surgery, is a cure for the disease. This is not usually an option at primary veterinary practices, and is usually performed at a veterinary teaching hospital, such as a university or specialist.
A good way to catch the disease before symptoms show is by performing routine blood screening tests on your cat. This blood test is performed with our senior wellness testing package, as well as checking for kidney disease and diabetes, which can also have some similar signs of hyperthyroidism. March is Senior Pet Month, and we are now offering these Senior Wellness packages to ensure your pet has a long, healthy life! Contact our office if you suspect your cat has hyperthyroidism or is showing any signs listed above.