How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a serious health condition that affects many dogs. The thyroid, an important gland, is situated along the dog’s neck. Its primary role is to secrete hormones to help many critical bodily functions to operate correctly. Hypothyroidism occurs when the gland ceases producing the correct amount of these essential hormones, and as a result, the body is no longer able to function normally.
There are many different symptoms that can indicate a dog may be suffering from a thyroid issue such as hypothyroidism. Among the most common problems seen are thin or dull coat, frequent shedding, thickened and scaly skin, fatigue, weight gain, intolerance to cold, and excessive hunger.
It is important to note that though diet can help dogs suffering from hypothyroidism, a change in nutrition must also be accompanied by synthetic hormone medications from a veterinarian. The most commonly prescribed drug treatment for this condition is levothyroxine. Though hypothyroidism is not typically fatal, it is not curable, requiring lifelong treatment.
Veterinarians suggest a number of different options to help alleviate the symptoms of hypothyroidism including supplements and a high-quality diet that is free from any filler foods and artificial colorings, flavorings, or preservatives.
Hypothyroidism is a genetic condition that can be exacerbated by stress in the home, certain types of food, and even overvaccination. It is also possible that some dogs exhibiting new behavioral problems including severe anxiety may be suffering from hypothyroidism.
Feeding a dog the best dog food for hypothyroidism can be a great help in combating the negative effects of this disease.
Choosing the Correct Calorie Count for Dogs with Hypothyroidism
Since dogs suffering with hypothyroidism often experience an increased appetite, it is important to select a high-quality food that is filling to prevent overeating from occurring. Exceptional care must be taken to ensure a dog with thyroid issues is not fed too much as obesity can lead to further health problems for the dog to battle. Measure all food and monitor all intake to prevent the dog from becoming overweight.
Most foods that are high in fiber and comprised of excellent quality ingredients are well-suited to the needs of a dog with hypothyroidism. To determine how much of the best food for dogs with hypothyroidism to feed a dog, it is a good idea to use the suggested serving size on the bag of food as a guideline. This can be adjusted to reflect the dog’s activity level and weight. However, for dogs whose appetite seems to rage out of control, it is a better idea to add something low calorie to the food for additional bulk and nutrition such as pumpkin, carrots, or green beans than to increase portion sizes.
For dogs that are overweight, increased exercise is preferable to reducing portion sizes if possible.
Some dogs will experience a loss of appetite and getting them to eat to maintain a good body condition can be very challenging. To encourage dogs with a decreased appetite to eat, it is important to select a high-quality food that is extremely flavorful.
Dietary Requirements for Dogs with Hypothyroidism
Since hypothyroidism has a genetic component, there are some dog breeds that are naturally predisposed to developing the condition. These include such dog types as Irish Setters, Boxers, Dachshunds, Airedale Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, and Miniature Schnauzers. However, just as not all of these breeds will succumb to hypothyroidism, there are many not on this list that will develop the disease during their lifetime.
Dogs suffering from hypothyroidism need a diet that will provide them with the daily energy they need. Since weight gain is a common symptom of the disease, it is important that a food selected for a dog with thyroid issues is filled with optimal quality ingredients.
To help dogs with hypothyroidism to build and maintain strong, healthy muscles, animal-based proteins are necessary. It is best to select a food that has lean, whole meats as their primary ingredient if possible. Meat meals are also acceptable. By-products, particularly from beef, have been linked to exacerbating the disease, and thus should be avoided.
Plant-based proteins such as soy, corn, and wheat can also negatively impact hypothyroidism in dogs but are also of very poor nutritional value and are difficult to digest well. Any diets containing these ingredients cannot be considered among the best dog foods for hypothyroidism.
Healthy fats are an important part of any diet for a dog with hypothyroidism. These are best derived from animal sources and include such beneficial ingredients as salmon oil and chicken fat. These fats help to combat the symptoms of hypothyroidism such as dry, flaky skin. They also contribute vital energy to keep dogs with this condition primed for daily exercise.
Carbohydrates are a critical component to achieving health and wellness in a dog with hypothyroidism. High fiber and the correct vitamins are best found in excellent quality, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. These easy to digest carbohydrates help provide dogs with the energy they need while promoting a healthy digestive tract. The vitamins found in the fruits and vegetables assist with strong immunity and continued good health.
When it comes to one superfood for dogs with hypothyroidism, liver from a lean animal source is key. Liver is filled with the nutrients needed to boost compromised thyroid function in affected dogs. Liver from such animals as chicken or turkey is rich in vitamin A, vitamin B, folic acid, and iron; all critical vitamins and nutrients to support an ailing thyroid.
The addition of iodine to a food is a great way to encourage the thyroid to produce hormones organically. This can also be purchased from a pharmacy and fed orally. This should only be done under the advice of a veterinarian who can also provide the correct dosage.
There are a few ingredients that should be avoided in a food for dogs suffering from thyroid problems. Fillers are poor quality for any dog, but in dogs with autoimmune diseases like hypothyroidism, it is even more critical that they not eat a diet which contains them. Likewise, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives should be avoided.
Most dogs with thyroid issues also have difficulty digesting foods that are heavy in grains that are rich in gluten. Avoid these diets and stick to something rich in fruits and vegetables to encourage good digestion and absorption of vital nutrients.
Since disruption of appetite is a common side effect of hypothyroidism, selecting a food that is high in flavor is very important to help encourage dogs with this disease to eat heartily.
Any food suited for the need of an adult dog with or without hypothyroidism should contain a minimum of 18 percent protein and 5 percent fat.
Things to Look for in the Best Dog Food for Hypothyroidism
Here is a basic list of the most important things to look for in a dog food for hypothyroidism:
- Whole meat or meat meal proteins heading up the ingredients list
- Prepared without the addition of chemicals, flavorings, fillers, or mystery ingredients
- Enriched with probiotics and helpful supplements
- Meets AAFCO nutritional requirements for a complete and balanced food
- Does not contain beef by-products
- Includes a poultry-based liver if possible