Informational Posts

When Our Pets Get Better Thyroid Care Than Us

Originally published on 8th August 2017
Last updated on 16th February 2024

It sounds mad, doesn’t it? That medical professionals across all species, may know more and do more for animals with thyroid problems.

Rachel, holding her pet gerbil Sweetie

But it seems to be true in some cases.

Much-Loved Pets

I’ve read multiple times, from thyroid patients on my social media pages, as well as in my Facebook support group, that they’re baffled when they take their dog to the vet, discover he or she has hypothyroidism, and their pet seemingly receiving better treatment than they do for their own hypothyroidism.

And the vet has a wider understanding of the condition, compared to their own GP.

Thyroid Testing

When it comes to thyroid testing we should, ideally, not go by TSH alone, as TSH should always form just part of the picture, with the other crucial thyroid tests also coming in to play to give the full picture.

Free T3, Free T4 and Thyroid antibodies are all very important when gaining an insight in to what’s going on with our thyroid health too and form the full thyroid panel. 

However, most thyroid patients will know that it’s hard to find a doctor who is willing to run all of these tests, let alone listen to what is wrong with just testing TSH alone. (Do know that you can order your own tests, however.)

When it comes to vets, the medical professionals entrusted with looking after our furry friends, they seem to understand the importance of testing a full thyroid panel.

Thyroid Conditions in Animals

Yes, animals can develop thyroid problems too, just like many other conditions that both humans and animals share (diabetes, arthritis, cancer etc.)

Hyperthyroidism is particularly prevalent among cats, whilst hypothyroidism is more often seen in dogs.

Animals tend to experience the same kind of symptoms we’re familiar with. In hypothyroidism: fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance and hair loss and in hyperthyroidism: weight loss, diarrhoea and increased appetite.

Getting them to a vet as soon as any animal shows signs of illness is crucial in their ability to recover, and when an animal is taken to a vet with suspected thyroid issues, the vet will often run a full thyroid panel, including those tests your doctor may be refusing you.

Countless times have I read a befuddled thyroid patient’s question about how their dog has received that Free T3 test that their GP keeps denying, which seems confusing, of course!

The Importance of Full Testing

The thing is, a lot of vets seem to recognise the importance of testing all these levels and gaining the full picture in order to give the animal the best possible treatment (usually synthetic T4 medication). Human doctors don’t always agree with this approach to testing.

You could argue that since we pay for vet care and bills which can cost a lot, we’re getting what we pay for, and for those of us on the NHS in the UK or insurance plans in the US, this is a reflection of what costs these can cover.

Running one test over all five can, of course, save money. But when we’re left inadequately treated due to insufficient testing, and thus require more doctors visits, several medications and more of the doctor’s time, is this really worth it? Does it really save money?

How can our own pets be receiving better treatment than us? The people who are responsible for looking after them?

Have you experienced this?

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given, but you can also read more on the following links:

About Author

Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes writing articles, authoring books, producing her Thyroid Family email newsletters and speaking on podcasts and at events about the many aspects thyroid disease affects and how to overcome these. She is well-recognised as a crucial and influential contributor to the thyroid community and has a large social media presence. Her bestselling books include "Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate" and "You, Me and Hypothyroidism".


  • J M Reid
    October 5, 2018 at 8:19 am

    Interesting article – I read somewhere or have been told by someone in the know that vets can treat humans but human doctors can’t treat animals – perhaps we should all register with a vet!

    • Rachel Hill
      October 5, 2018 at 8:20 am

      I’ve heard that too! Maybe that wouldn’t be a bad idea!

  • kerrylouise81
    August 15, 2017 at 9:34 am

    I actually never knew this. Ok yeah we pay vets but most people take out pet insurance which is a couple of pounds a month! OMG I feel like I should have visited a vet instead if a GP I may start doing that if I start feeling unwell again! Completely insane I will be sharing this x

    • Rachel Hill, The Invisible Hypothyroidism
      August 15, 2017 at 9:51 am

      Glad you found it helpful, Kerry. It is indeed a shock!

      • kerrylouise81
        August 15, 2017 at 9:53 am

        I can’t believe it, I honestly never knew! I could have saved a fortune buying myself pet insurance instead of going to the functional doctor ??

  • Invisibly Me
    August 8, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    I’ve actually thought this about various health issues, to the point where it’s become a joke when I speak to my mother, who says “better go the vets!” when I come back fuming that the doctors ignore, fob me off or don’t talk any sense. It’s disappointing and infuriating, yet so true.x


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