Donnie Tillman - In this week's Pet Check, we are talking with Doctor Sherry Siragusa about feline hyperthyroidism. Is that correct?
Dr. Siragusa - That is correct.
Donnie Tillman - Explain to us what that exactly is.
Dr. Siragusa - Feline hyperthyroidism is actually an overactive thyroid and you have elevated, or high circulating, thyroid hormones which lead to hyper metabolism in cats. Typically, in cats it's a benign process. Less than five percent of cats, more likely less than two percent of cats, can actually have a cancerous tumor of the thyroid. With them it's almost the same treatment, but sometimes you get worried about metastasis and stuff like that.
Donnie Tillman - What are some signs that you should be looking for to discover this?
Dr. Siragusa - With cats a lot of them will have a ravenous appetite and then they'll have weight loss. Also, some cats will end up having increased thirst and urination. When you end up taking them to the vet, when the vet is doing their exam, most of them will end up palpating. If we're suspecting hyperthyroidism, we'll feel their throat to see if there is any enlargement of the thyroid nodule.
Sometimes you can't feel anything in these cats. Beyond that, we'd be listening to their heart. A lot of cats that have hyperthyroidism end up having an elevated or fast heart rate. They also can have heart murmurs and hypertension, too.
Donnie Tillman - With that said, is this something than can be treated?
Dr. Siragusa - Yes, it's very treatable. There are approximately four treatment options now. The gold standard of therapy, which is your number one treatment option, is usually radioactive iodine therapy. The second treatment option, of course, is thyroidectomy. That can be performed at your doctor's office. The third option is medication. Now, this medicine can be oral.
Sometimes, if your pet won't allow you to medicate it, some cats can be difficult. You can make it into a transdermal which is a gel you can put on the inside of their ear. Lastly, a treatment option has been designed, a new food in the last two years. This food is very restricted in iodine. But, unfortunately, there hasn't been enough studies yet done to prove is this is truly effective.
Diagnosis is usually made through blood work. We'll usually do x-rays with them, and urinalysis and thyroid level. Sometimes, even a thyroid scan is done to determine if your pet has hyperthyroidism.
Donnie Tillman - Great cat. For more tips, visit our website ciproud.com. Dr. Siragusa with the Peoria County Veterinary Association, we appreciate your time.
Dr. Siragusa - Thank you.