Radioactive Iodine Treatment For Cats With Hyperthyroidism
This was the course of treatment that was suggested via vets as the most favoured due to the fact that it has high levels of success at around 90%. The main problem with this course of treatment is finding a referral centre who are able to carry it out the length of hospitalization need for the cat and ultimately the overarching cost of the procedure. The cost for this course of treatment can be around £1,500 to £2,000 excluding the cost of care and hospitalization and food required around it.
Essentially the process involves a safe injection under the skin of the cat. This is taken up by the abnormal thyroid tissue which is destroyed. This procedure does not affect the rest of the body and can offer a decent cure rate of 90%. Due to health and safety regulations around in his treatment your cat will need to stay in a specialised hospital for around 2 to 6 weeks. Whilst this treatment has a high success rate, I had to bear in mind the age of my cat, the significant cost, and the trauma/stress caused by travel and being in a different place he really does not like travel and different settings.
Clinical Signs Of Feline Hyperthyroidism
It is a multi-systemic disease. This means that it affects many body organs and organ systems. Hyperthyroidism can induce similar symptoms to other conditions .
The most common clinical signs are weight loss and increased appetite. Other signs include:
- hyperexcitability or anxiety
- palpable goitre
- gastrointestinal signs
- signs of congestive heart failure
- fluid retention in chest and abdomen
- increased drinking and urination
- some cats have alternating periods of decreased and appetite
Before Your Cats Stay
Prior to being admitted through Hypurrthyroid Treatment for Cats for radioiodine treatment, all patients are required to have had diagnostic testing completed within the previous 30 days. These diagnostics include:
- Blood chemistries
- Thyroid hormone level
- Chest radiographs
- Blood pressure
- Abdominal radiographs and/or abdominal or cardiac ultrasound may be appropriate in some cases
We want to be sure that your cat is healthy enough to stay with us for the duration of the radioiodine treatment period.
If your cat has previously been treated with medication for hyperthyroidism, these should be discontinued for at least 7-14 days prior to treatment with radioiodine. If your cat has been on Hills Y/D diet for treatment of its hyperthyroidism, it recommended that your cat be off the diet for 6-8 weeks prior to treatment with I 131.
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The Day Of Your Cats Scheduled Treatment
The morning of your cats scheduled treatment, you will have an appointment scheduled for your cat to be examined by Dr. Currigan. The doctor will then provide a presentation about the radioiodine procedure, including both your responsibilities regarding after care and ours while your cat is hospitalized. Many owners find that they have additional questions during this presentation, and we are happy to answer any and all questions. Your confidence in our care for your cat is essential.
We ask cat owners to bring enough food for the duration of the hospitalization period, especially if your cat is on a less common or unique diet that we may not carry. Many cats are more inclined to eat well while away from home if the diet is familiar. Although we are unable to accommodate larger toys, bedding, blankets, etc. from home as our safety guidelines and space will not always allow these items to return home with you, we do encourage owners to bring a small toy and/or piece of clothing that we can keep in your cat’s housing area to help reduce any anxiety. .
No fasting is necessary prior to radioiodine treatment, so go ahead and feed your cat on the day of admission. All, or at least the majority, of the tests that we want completed prior to admission day should have already been done. However, if further tests are required, they can be performed by us, but in some cases, that may necessitate our having to postpone the treatment to another day.
Special Diet For Hyperthyroidism
For this to work, its important that your cat eats nothing else. No treats, no hunting trips outside, essentially your cat will need to convert to being in all the time to make this work. All cats adapt their routines differently, and as my cat has got older, hes been increasingly happy to stay in and less prone to hunting so this may be an option for him. Again, its not cheap though, so Ive outlined the best cat food for thyroid car below along with details of how to save money on it. I welcome any thoughts or experiences in the comments of this article on how readers who have dealt with this condition have dealt with the decisions and treatments. Let us know your successes or experiences.
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What Is Hyperthyroidism In Cats
Quite simply, put together hyper and thyroid and you have hyperthyroid meaning overactive thyroids.
What does the thyroid gland do?
Thyroid hormone governs metabolic rate.
- When theres not enough, the metabolism runs slow, meaning a fat, lazy cat.
- When theres too much, the cat is overactive and very skinny.
Think of thyroxine as gas in a car. Push down on the gas pedal and you flood the engine, causing it to rev hard and burn through fuel like nobodys business. This is what happens to the body when too much thyroxine is present.
Where are the thyroid glands?
Cats have 2 thyroid glands, but in the normal cat they are too small to feel.
The glands sit on either side of the windpipe, in the mid-neck area. When they become overactive, these glands enlarge and often can be felt as swellings in the neck.
What are the symptoms of thyroid problems in a cat?
Are you worried your cat has overactive thyroid glands?
Hyperthyroidism usually happens in older cats, typically in those over 10 years of age. The older the cat, the greater the chance of this condition developing.
Guidelines For Cat Owners After Radioiodine Therapy
Cats treated with radioiodine have a low level of radioactivity following discharge from the hospital. This level is sufficiently low that complete isolation of the cat from people is not required. Follow these guidelines for 3 weeks after your cat comes home to eliminate or further reduce human exposure to radiation that is emitted by the cat and by radioiodine that is excreted by the cat in urine and saliva.
—Do not allow your cat to sit on or sleep with anyone after coming home. Spend as little time as possible close to your cat. Casual contact is fine, but prolonged lap sitting and sleeping in your bed should be avoided. You can relax these guidelines for yourself after the second week, but not for young children or women who are pregnant or might become pregnant.
—As an extra safety precaution for the very young and developing fetuses, children under 10-years-old and pregnant woman should avoid contact with your cat, food dishes, toys and litter for the full 3 weeks.
—Keep your cat separate from any other cats in the household in order to reduce the risk of radiation exposure. Please ensure that your other cats do not use the same litter box, as radioiodine is excreted in the urine. Please ensure that your other cats are fed from separate food bowls and water dishes as radioiodine is also excreted in the saliva.
—Please keep your cat indoors if the cat uses garden areas as a litter box. Cats may go outside for supervised exercise.
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What Types Of Thyroid Gland Disorders Occur In Cats
The most common thyroid gland disorder in the cat is an excessive production of thyroid hormone due to a benign increase in the size and function of one or both of the thyroid glands. This condition is termed hyperthyroidism . Less than 2% of the hyperthyroid conditions in cats are due to malignant tumors of the thyroid glands.
“Hypothyroidism is very uncommon in cats.”
Hypothyroidism is very uncommon in cats and is usually related to previous therapy for a hyperthyroid condition, or due to a congenital condition .
Are There Any Specific Diagnostic Tests For Hyperthyroidism
The majority of cases of hyperthyroidism can be diagnosed with a single blood test that measures the total thyroxine concentration. Because hyperthyroidism in cats is due to the excess production of thyroid hormones , the blood T4 concentration is usually noticeably elevated in cats with the disease.
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What Is The Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland is located near the trachea , just below the larynx . It is a paired gland that is responsible for the production of thyroid hormones. The major thyroid hormone that is produced by the thyroid gland is thyroxine . A small amount of another thyroid hormone, triiodothyronine , is also made by the thyroid gland. Thyroid hormones have far-reaching effects on the body, in essence governing the body’s metabolic rate.
The function of the thyroid gland is controlled by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain, through a hormone called thyroid stimulating hormone .
What Are The Side Effects Of Felimazole
The most common side effects of Felimazole reported to FDAs Center for Veterinary Medicine are:
- A change in appetite ,
- itchy skin, especially the face, head, and neck,
- abnormal vocalizing,
- increased ALT ,
- increased BUN ,
- weakness, and
FDA also encourages you to work with your veterinarian to report any adverse event – in either pets or people – associated with Felimazole or any product defect such as defective packaging or the drug is off-color. How to Report Animal Drug and Device Side Effects and Product Problems.
Less frequently reported, but serious side effects of Felimazole include:
- liver disease
- immune-mediated anemiathe cats own immune system starts attacking and destroying red blood cells, causing anemia
- low plateletsplatelets are found in the blood of all mammals and help with blood clotting. When a cat has low platelets, its blood cant clot as well, which may lead to bleeding problems and
- severely low level of neutrophils in the bloodneutrophils, a type of white blood cell, are part of the bodys immune system. They fight bacteria and other harmful substances. When there arent enough neutrophils in the blood, the cat is at greater risk for developing a dangerous infection.
Veterinarians should monitor cats on Felimazole for any sign of illness, including fever, enlarged lymph nodes, and anemia. If these signs occur, your veterinarian may recommend stopping the Felimazole and doing appropriate blood tests.
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Hyperthyroidism In Cats: Symptoms And Treatment
Hyperthyroidism in cats is a disease thats usually caused by a benign tumor within the thyroid gland. This tumor causes an overproduction of the thyroid hormone called thyroxine. One of the primary functions of this thyroid hormone is to regulate an animals metabolism.
Cats with too much thyroid hormone have a greatly increased metabolic rate, which leads them to lose weight despite having a ravenous appetite. Other symptoms can include anxiety, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst and urination.
These excessive hormone levels push a cats body into constant overdrive, which frequently leads to high blood pressure and a type of heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Heres everything you should know about hyperthyroidism in cats so you can spot the signs and get your cat on a treatment plan as soon as possible.
How Common Is Hyperthyroidism In Cats
There is no known genetic predisposition for hyperthyroidism, but it is quite common in cats.
In fact, hyperthyroidism is the most common hormonal disease in the cat population, often seen in late middle-aged and older cats.
The average age of diagnosis is approximately 13 years. The possible age range is 4-20 years, although seeing young hyperthyroid cats is very rare.
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Environment Chemicals And Thyroid Problems
I have studied some of the reasons that cats experience thyroid problems in such huge numbers. Conventional experts say that these problems are caused by the excessive production of cells in the thyroid gland. But why is the thyroid gland producing too many cells?
Observational findings support the idea that PBDEs may influence abnormal cell growth in the thyroid gland. That said, as recently as 2021, the link between BPA and thyroid function has not been proven. Still, removing BPAs from your cat’s environment will not create any problems and should be tried.
Pet owners who are very concerned about their cats’ health should consider trying to eliminate these chemicals from their lives as much as possible. Some steps to help achieve this include:
- Eliminating food in cans that have BPAs in their linings.
- Removing carpets with PBC chemicals.
- Avoiding insect sprays and chemical fertilizers.
Surgically Removing The Thyroid Gland
Surgical removal of the diseased thyroid gland is another potential treatment. Like I131 treatment, surgical treatment is curative, but these cats also must be monitored afterward for hypothyroidism.
Surgical removal of the thyroid gland is best performed when only one thyroid gland is affected, as removal of both can possibly lead to hypothyroidism. Another complication that can occur after surgical removal of the affected thyroid gland is the successive hyperactivity of the remaining thyroid gland.
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Natural Treatments For Hyperthyroidism In Cats
Rhonda owns a small holistic pet care business online and consults on the subject.
REVIEWED BYDr. Mark, U of Missouri Veterinary Medicine grad with 40+ years working with dogs, exotics and livestock
Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces too many of the hormones that regulate the metabolism. It is the most common glandular disorder in cats.
How Do Vets Test For Feline Hyperthyroidism
In most cases, diagnosing hyperthyroidism is straightforward: high levels of thyroid hormone in the bloodstream along with the typical signs.
In some cases, however, your cats T4 levels may be in the normal range, making a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism more difficult. This is especially true in the early stages of this disease.
If your cat is showing the symptoms of hyperthyroidism but the blood tests are not conclusive, you will need to return to your veterinarian for further blood tests or for a referral for a thyroid scan.
These diseases can be excluded on the basis of routine laboratory findings and thyroid function tests. Your veterinarian will conduct a battery of tests to zero in on a reliable diagnosis.
Kidney disease is commonly diagnosed along with hyperthyroidism in cats. Cats suffering from both diseases may need treatment for both, and the diagnosis of kidney disease in a cat with hyperthyroidism can affect the cats prognosis.
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What Initial Screening Tests Are Used To Evaluate Hyperthyroidism In Cats
Thyroid hormones have widespread effects on the body, and are involved in the metabolism of food as well as the daily metabolic functions of most of the body’s tissues and organs. Therefore, the effects of increased thyroid hormone concentrations may be seen in many initial blood and serum screening tests. Changes in the initial screening tests may suggest the presence of hyperthyroidism, and may uncover other conditions, some of which may be related to increased thyroid hormone production while others may indicate other, non-related problems.
Complete blood count . The white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets are evaluated in this test. Hyperthyroidism does not usually cause significant changes in the blood cell profile, with the exception of a mild increase in red blood cell numbers. Therefore, the presence of significant alterations in any of these blood parameters may alert your veterinarian to the existence of other disease conditions.
Serum biochemistry profile. Serum contains enzymes, proteins, lipids , glucose , and metabolites. The use of a serum biochemistry profile allows your veterinarian to measure these components of serum and provides specific values for enzymes related to the liver, kidneys and pancreas, in addition to an evaluation of the electrolyte components of a serum sample, such as sodium and potassium.
Hyperthyroidism In Cats Faq
What causes hyperthyroidism in cats?
Theres no definitive cause of hyperthyroidism in cats, though sometimes it can be caused by a tumour. It is a condition that is linked to older cats. There is some speculation that its caused by diet or environment, but this hasnt been proven.
Is hyperthyroidism in cats treatable?
Yes, there are a few different options to treat hyperthyroidism in cats, including radioactive iodine , surgery, or medicine. Your vet will discuss the best course of treatment for your cat with you, so you can make an informed decision.
What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats?
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats are weight loss despite increased appetite, increased energy or restlessness and changes to the condition of their fur or skin. There could be other symptoms, but if you notice any changes in your cats behaviour, you should always ask advice from a vet.
How long does hyperthyroidism medication take to work in cats?
Medication for hyperthyroidism is adjusted to effect. This may mean that the dose will be adjusted within the initial few weeks. Regular monitoring blood tests will show if a dose adjustment is needed.
Do cats with hyperthyroidism drink lots of water?
Signs of hyperthyroidism may include weight loss, increased appetite, increased thirst, increase activity and restlessness, an increased heart rate and a poor and unkempt coat.
Are cats with thyroid problems always hungry?
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Are There Any Other Tests For The Diagnosis Of Hyperthyroidism
The vast majority of cases of hyperthyroidism are diagnosed by the combination of clinical history, initial laboratory screening tests, and the determination of T4 or fT4 blood concentrations.
On rare occasions, additional tests such as the T3 suppression test or advanced imaging studies of the thyroid gland may need to be performed. Imaging studies are usually done at a referral center.
|Contributors: Krista Williams, BSc, DVM Kristiina Ruotsalo, DVM, DVSc, Dip ACVP Margo S. Tant BSc, DVM, DVSc|