Identifying endocrine problems as early as possible is essential in dogs and cats. These severe, potentially life-threatening conditions are more manageable when caught early, allowing us to begin proper treatment.
The endocrine system comprises a group of tissues (mostly glands) that release hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones regulate metabolism, growth, development, and reproduction and are dispersed to different body areas, depending on the hormone’s function. An endocrine disorder can develop when a hormonal balance is disturbed (by a tumor or autoimmune disease, for instance). “Hyper” refers to an excess of hormone, and “hypo” refers to a deficiency in a hormone. Treatment varies depending on the disease.
There are several common endocrine disorders found in dogs and cats:
- Diabetes mellitus is caused by a deficiency in or resistance to the hormone insulin.
- Hypothyroidism, which is often diagnosed in dogs, indicates that the animal has low thyroid hormone levels.
- Hyperthyroidism, which frequently affects cats, indicates that the animal has high levels of thyroid hormones.
- Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism) and Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism) can also affect both species, although Cushing’s disease is rare in cats.
Contact us if your pet begins panting excessively, develops any skin issues (such as hair loss or dull coat), or shows any changes in behavior, energy levels, appetite, weight, water consumption, or urination.