Hyperthyroidism – the excessive secretion of hormones by the thyroid gland situated in the proximity of the larynx trachea underneath the larynx – is a condition that rarely manifests in canines.

Broadly speaking, the thyroidal tumors constitute the main responsible factor for hyperthyroidism.

However, recent studies conducted between 2012 and 2014 reveal that there is a direct correlation between the hypersecretion of thyroidal hormones and raw meat/bones/cartilage being fed to dogs. Let’s find out why the growing trend of raw diets may actually have a negative impact on your furry friend’s health.

Dogs aren’t prone to thyroid tumors like cats

Probably, every well informed feline owner is familiar with the common knowledge that dictates every cat will, sooner or later, be affected by hyperthyroidism. The condition is indeed extremely prevalent among felines in the form of microscopic sized benign tumors growing on or in the proximity of the thyroid, particularly after a certain age.

What puzzled researchers was the fact that the same does not apply to canines; in fact, only a negligible segment of the dog population will ever develop thyroidal tumors. Therefore, considering that a similar percentage of both cats and dogs taken to the vet are diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, the cause of the condition in the latter species has to be different.

How does hyperthyroidism manifest?

Symptoms that indicate you should take your canine – or feline – friend to the vet’s office for a checkup for hyperthyroidism comprise of:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Excessive weight loss over a short timeframe
  • Elevated heart rates
  • Ravenous appetite
  • Drinking large amounts of water (not mandatory)

The thyroidal hormones are directly responsible for regulating metabolism, so any malfunctions of this gland – both hypo and hyper – have a direct impact on the correct functioning of the organism. In the long run, hyperthyroidism has a realistic chance to trigger liver, heart and kidney failures.

The source of hyperthyroidism in canines

Upon inspecting numerous cases of dogs diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, veterinarians discovered that in almost every case traces of thyroid tissues were found along the length of the trachea, sometimes as far as inside the chest. They concluded that the dogs ingested the tissues and the owners were able to confirm the animals were fed diets consisting of raw meat, bones, and cartilages.

In addition to the hormones naturally secreted by their own thyroid gland, the organisms of the dogs on raw food also absorbed the hormones from the thyroid glands of the animals whose meat they’d been eating. Therefore, the body was subjected to an excessive amount of thyroidal hormones, and it reacted accordingly. The good news is that eliminating raw meat, bones and tissue from the diet quickly returned the thyroid hormone levels to normal, without any lasting side effects.

The increasing number of hyperthyroidism cases in dogs

As raw diets are becoming more popular, thanks to support from so-called experts and because at first glance, it would appear to make sense feeding dogs the same type of food their ancestors ate, the prevalence of hyperthyroidism in the canine population becomes worrisome. Meatless bones from chicken, small livestock and veal typically come from the neck area, which is where the thyroid gland is situated. Therefore, the contamination of meat, bones, and tissue with thyroid hormones is virtually unavoidable.