Diet problems

What to Feed a Dog With Hypothyroidism

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. June 24, 2024
What to Feed a Dog With Hypothyroidism

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Hypothyroidism in dogs is an endocrine disorder in which the thyroid gland produces an insufficient amount of hormones for optimal function. When a dog's organism does not produce sufficient thyroid hormones, we will observe various repercussions in their physical and behavioral health. The resultant symptoms can be diverse, but also generalized. This is why hypothyroidism needs to be diagnosed by a veterinarian. Not only does it need to be differentiated from other diseases, but its underlying cause will determine its treatment. They will be able to prescribe this treatment, an administration which can be helped by dietary changes.

At AnimalWised, we explain what to feed a dog with hypothyroidism. This hypothyroidism diet for dogs is not an alternative to veterinary advice, but a complimentary treatment.

You may also be interested in: What to Feed a Dog With Liver Problems
  1. Why is a hypothyroidism diet for dogs important?
  2. What to feed a dog with hypothyroidism
  3. What not to feed a dog with hypothyroidism
  4. Homemade diet for dogs with hypothyroidism
  5. Commercial food for dogs with hypothyroidism

Why is a hypothyroidism diet for dogs important?

Hypothyroidism is not a disease, but a medical condition which can be a result of one. It can also be due to other problems such as a side effect of certain medications. In this way, the dog may have an acute or chronic condition dependent on the cause. A diet for dogs with hypothyroidism may only need to be temporary, but those with chronic hypothyroidism will need to maintain dietary changes for life.

If a dog has hypothyroidism, their body will eventually start changing. When this happens, we will see various symptoms, although it is common for bilateral and symmetrical changes to skin to occur. Symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs include the following:

  • Reduced fur growth
  • Alopecia
  • Dry hair that breaks easily
  • Dry, thickened, inflamed and darkened skin
  • Seborrhea
  • Weight gain
  • Intolerance to cold and exercise
  • Slow heart rate
  • Disappearance of heat cycle
  • Lethargy and general weakness
  • Decreased metabolism
  • Immunodepression

Other clinical signs are very different and nonspecific. They include inflammation of the eyelids, corneal ulcers, deafness, megaesophagus, chronic constipation or anemia. In addition, it must be taken into account that it is a condition that is most commonly diagnosed in medium-tolarge dogs and has a greater prevalence during old age.

The reason why diet is so important to dogs with hypothyroidism is because what a dog eats affects thyroid function. Nutrients in food such as iodine and selenium can be particularly important for thyroid function. Too much or too little can have various effects on the dog, depending on the nature of the thyroid problem.

Diet is also very important because it helps to maintain weight. Dogs with hypothyroidism are prone to obesity, so ensuring we provide the right type and amount of food is imperative. The correct food can also help to protect a dog with hypothyroidism from other issues such as inflammatory processes linked to hormone production and metabolic disorders.

For all the above reasons, it is a good idea to follow a diet for dogs with hypothyroidism. This must always be carried out with the supervision of your veterinarian. If the professional does decide dietary changes are necessary, we will have to make these changes gradually. Introduce the new food little by little and reduce the amount of old food to avoid causing digestive problems. It is best to offer their full daily ration in several portions throughout the day.

What to feed a dog with hypothyroidism

We have already explained some of the common symptoms of dogs with hypothyroidism. It is something which is common in large and middle-aged dogs which are overweight. We can see their skin and coat is in a poor condition. The extra weight is often a result of poor metabolism, but they may also experience lethargy, immunosuppression, constipation and/or anemia.

For all these reasons, the veterinarian will prescribe various medications to help manage these symptoms and prevent further complications. Diet alone will not be sufficient for treatment of canine hypothyroidism, but it can help to safeguard their well-being. With this in mind, a dog with hypothyroidism should eat the following:

  • Quality diet that is well balanced and adapted to the dog's life circumstances, such as size or age.
  • The central ingredient has to be protein of animal origin, preferably lean meat such as chicken, turkey or fish.
  • Reduced amount of fats and carbohydrates as they help to recover the animal's ideal weight.
  • The carbohydrates present must be easy to digest such as those found in certain legumes.
  • A healthy contribution of fiber such as that offered by vegetables, acting as a prevention against constipation.
  • Vitamins and minerals such as iodine to help thyroid hormone production.
  • Fatty acids such as omega 3 which contribute to the health of the skin and hair, among other benefits. We can find them in fish oils.

Depending on the dog's symptoms, the veterinarian can cater to other nutritional needs and even prescribe food supplements such as dietary fiber supplements for dogs. This will help us to better maintain the diet for a dog with hypothyroidism. An example is the prescription of iron supplements for dogs with anemia.

Learn more about a diet for dogs with anemia with our guide to treating anemia in dogs at home.

What to Feed a Dog With Hypothyroidism - What to feed a dog with hypothyroidism

What not to feed a dog with hypothyroidism

In view of the condition that a dog with hypothyroidism may show, there are some foods that should be avoided. This is because they may hinder their treatment such as increasing the risk of obesity. Among the foods that a dog with hypothyroidism cannot eat, we highlight the following:

  • Foods of low quality or not adapted to the dog's life stage
  • Excessive intake of fats and carbohydrates
  • Low quality proteins
  • Little amount of fiber
  • Artificial additives

Dogs with hypothyroidism will also need to avoid foods which contain goitrogens. These are substances which can impair thyroid functioning. These include raw cruciferous vegetables such as:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Kale

Cooking these vegetables can remove the goitrogen content, but they are best avoided. Discover more about the effects of poor thyroid functioning with our article asking does hypothyroidism shorted a dog's life expectancy?

Homemade diet for dogs with hypothyroidism

Many dog guardians are choosing homemade options for their dogs. Regardless if they have a condition such as hypothyroidism, great care must be taken to ensure the diet meets their nutritional needs. Due to the risks of immunosuppression, obesity, anemia and other disorders, this is particularly important for dogs with hypothyroidism.

If you want to provide a homemade diet for your dog, you will need to speak to a veterinary professional. Ideally you can speak to one who specializes in canine nutrition. They will help you to tailor the diet to the dog's specific needs, using the above food for dogs with hypothyroidism if necessary.

Learn more about canine nutrition in general with our guide on what to look for in dog food.

What to Feed a Dog With Hypothyroidism - Homemade diet for dogs with hypothyroidism

Commercial food for dogs with hypothyroidism

We are unaware of any commercial food brands which are specifically designed to cater to dogs with hypothyroidism. However, there are feeds which are designed to help with weight management and overall health. These are foods which contain the ingredients necessary to manage various endocrine conditions in dogs such as diabetes or Cushing's disease, as well as hypothyroidism.

For this reason, we will be able to find a quality commercial dog food which is able to meet the nutritional needs of a dog with hypothyroidism. We must ask our veterinarian for their recommendation as not all dog food companies provide the same level of quality. They will also inform us of the other nutritional needs of our specific dog. Some dogs with hypothyroidism may have concurrent health issues which can also be influenced by diet.

These commercial food to help with endocrine disorders in dogs are usually in the form of dry kibble. Wet food and treats may also be found, but we need to be very careful with these types of dog food. This is because they are usually very calorific and can influence weight gain.

Learn more about one such endocrine disorder with our article on treating Cushing's disease in dogs.

If you want to read similar articles to What to Feed a Dog With Hypothyroidism, we recommend you visit our Diet problems category.

  • Carlson & Giffin. (2002). Practical manual of canine veterinary medicine. Madrid: Editorial el Drac.
  • Meilán, C. (n.d.). " Canine hypothyroidism." Argos special endocrinology. pp. 4-13.
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What to Feed a Dog With Hypothyroidism