Thyroid Tumors in Dogs (August 2019)

With most cases seen when it comes to thyroid tumors in dogs, the majority of them are nonfunctional and malignant.

How much do you know about thyroid tumors in dogs?

What is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a gland located along the windpipe in the neck area. It has the job of producing thyroid hormones, which are responsible for how a dog’s body uses energy and the response to other hormones.

What Are Thyroid Tumors?

Thyroid tumors exist due to abnormal cell growth and replication in the thyroid gland.

Cancerous or malignant thyroid tumors are known as adenocarcinomas or carcinomas, non-cancerous or benign thyroid tumors are also known as adenomas.

Approximately 90% of thyroid tumors seen in dogs are malignant but don’t function, so they don’t result in excessive production of the thyroid hormone.

Thyroid Tissue in Other Places

It’s actually very common for dogs to have thyroid tissue located in other areas of the body – this is called ectopic thyroid tissue.

Ectopic thyroid tissue can typically be found further down a dog’s neck, at the base of the heart, or even under a dog’s tongue.

Because of this, it’s more than possible for thyroid tumors to grow and develop in other areas of the body.

The Signs of Thyroid Tumors in Dogs

Looking for signs of thyroid tumors in dogs can be a tricky task. The only real symptom you can look for, is a big bump or mass located on the underside of a dog’s neck.

There are symptoms to look for, but these go together with a mass pressing on the trachea or esophagus:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Problems with swallowing – gagging
  • Facial swelling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • A change in the sound of their bark

As always, if you notice any of the signs listed above, get your pup to the vet as soon as possible.

The Causes of Thyroid Tumors in Dogs

Unfortunately, no type of cancer has a direct cause, but there are risk factors and genetic components that can result in a thyroid tumor.

For example, the following breeds have a higher risk of developing a thyroid tumor:

  • Boxers
  • Beagles
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Siberian Huskies

If you own one of these breeds, talk to your vet about the risks of thyroid tumors.

As a dog owner, you should talk to your vet about them anyway – play it safe!

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