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Thyroid and Cortisol Levels
As in human medicine, when a pet isn’t feeling well your Banfield doctor may need to perform certain tests which will
provide information regarding what is happening within your pet’s body. There are several common tests that provide
basic information about different body systems. These tests can be used to identify illness, and sometimes the cause of
illness as well, which in turn helps determine the most appropriate treatment for your pet.
The importance of negative/
normal results
All tests provide important information about your
pet. Many of our wellness plans include diagnostic
tests as part of your pet’s comprehensive exams.
This allows your Banfield doctor to have a baseline
for what values are “normal” in your pet so that
changes in your pet’s health are caught early. When
your pet is ill several tests may need to be run to
rule out certain diseases. A negative test provides
your Banfield doctor with an updated “map” of your
pet’s body systems and is a very useful tool for
determining what disease your pet may have.
Thyroid and cortisol levels
The thyroid is a gland located in the neck that produces
thyroid hormone (thyroxine or T4). This hormone is
responsible for a myriad of different functions within the
body including metabolic rate, temperature regulation,
and blood pressure and to influence other hormone
function and production. Due to the number of body
systems that are impacted by this hormone, it is obvious
that if this hormone isn’t present at the appropriate
level in the body, multiple different problems can
arise. In fact, thyroid disorders are the most common
hormone imbalances recognized in dogs and cats. In
dogs, low thyroid levels (hypothyroidism) are most
common and are related to weight gain, skin infections,
thinning hair coat, lethargy, and sometimes neurologic
disorders. In cats, an increased thyroid hormone level
(hyperthyroidism) is the most common form of the
disease. This serious disease can cause increased blood
pressure, heart disease, weight loss, behavior changes
and sometimes contribute to kidney failure.
The adrenal gland produces a hormone called
“cortisol” which is usually released in response
to physical or environmental stresses such as
sickness, pain or even anxiety. Excessive amounts
of this hormone are related to a disease in people
called “Cushing’s disease” or hyperadrenocortism.
This disease can cause a constellation of different
symptoms and contribute to multiple different
disorders (such as diabetes, dermatitis, urinary
tract infections, obesity, and increased chance
of infection). A severe decrease in this hormone
(hypoadrenocortism), similar to “Addison’s disease”
in humans can also occur. This form of adrenal
disease can be life threatening. This disease is usually
associated with extreme lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea,
and electrolyte abnormalities in dogs. Both of these
adrenal diseases are less common in cats.
For additional information, please contact your Banfield medical team.