We are committed to caring for your pet – while maintaining the highest level of safety for our Associates and pet owners. We thank you for your continued patience and support. 
Read More

Hyperthyroidism is the most common hormone disorder of cats. It is caused by growths within the thyroid gland that are overactive, leading to excess thyroid hormone in the body. Thyroid growths are usually benign but can be malignant in rare cases.

Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include hyperactivity, weight loss and hunger. Some cats will become more vocal, thirsty and may also urinate more than usual. Occasionally, cats will not show any symptoms of hyperthyroidism but the disorder can be detected on wellness testing by your veterinarian.

Fortunately for your cat, this is a very treatable problem with several management options:

1) Methimazole (generic, Tapazole TM, FelimazoleTM) is a medicine that inhibits the production of thyroid hormone, thereby resolving symptoms of hyperthyroidism. This treatment is highly effective, readily available, and not very costly in the short term. It can be administered orally as a pill or liquid, or topically on the skin. This treatment must be monitored periodically to make sure it is working properly and not causing side effects. It is important to note that this treatment does not cure hyperthyroidism, but can control the problem as long as the medicine is given regularly as prescribed by your veterinarian.

2) Surgery can be performed to remove the abnormal thyroid tissue. This treatment has been effective in curing hyperthyroidism in many cats but is less popular recently as safer and simpler options are now readily available.

3) I-131 (radio-iodine) therapy is a form of nuclear medicine used to cure feline hyperthyroidism. This is a very simple, safe and highly effective treatment. The vast majority of cats treated with I-131 will be cured of hyperthyroidism.

How does I-131 work?

The thyroid gland is the only part of the body that uses iodine, a nutrient that is essential to synthesize thyroid hormones. I-131 is a form of iodine that is radioactive. I-131 is given by injection and circulates in the blood until it is taken into the thyroid gland. In hyperthyroid cats, the cells within the abnormal nodules are actively making an abundance of thyroid hormone, but the normal thyroid tissue is suppressed and not making any thyroid hormone. Therefore only the cells within the nodules will absorb the radioactive iodine. Once inside the abnormal thyroid cells, the radiation goes to work to destroy the abnormal cells. Small amounts of radiation will be emitted from your cat during the treatment, therefore strict isolation in our facility is required to keep everyone safe. Once the level of radioactivity is below a certain limit, usually within a few days, the cats are safe to go home.

See our departments

Internal Medicine

Offering diagnostic medical services including:

  • Ultrasound-guided needle biopsies and aspirates
  • Endoscopy
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Pharygoscopy
  • Rhinoscopy
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Urethrocystoscopy
  • Gastroduodenoscopy
  • Esophagoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Endocrine evaluations
  • Transtracheal and bronchoalveolar lavages for respiratory diagnostics

We also offer management, medications and nutritional advice for many acute and chronic medical conditions including:

  • Upper and lower respiratory disease
  • Vascular disease
  • Hematologic illnesses
  • Urologic and gastrointestinal diseases
  • Liver and endocrine diseases
  • Immune-mediated and infectious diseases
  • Transurethral cystoscopic-guided collagen injections for the treatment of incontinence in female dogs

What Is A Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist?

A board certified veterinary internal medicine specialist is a licensed veterinarian who has obtained intensive, additional training in understanding how your pet's internal body systems function, and in diagnosing and treating the many serious diseases that can affect the health of those systems. An internal medicine specialist has advanced training in the following disciplines:

  • Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hematology (study of the blood)
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Nephrology/Urology
  • Respiratory Diseases

While your general practitioner can diagnose and treat many health problems, certain diseases and conditions require the care of a doctor who has had specialized, intensive training in internal medicine in order to provide the very best outcome for your pet.

*Within the discipline of veterinary internal medicine, there are also veterinarians who specialize further in Small Animal Medicine, Cardiology, Neurology, and Oncology.

Why Does My Pet Need A Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist?

Just as your own primary care physician may feel the need to refer you to the care of a specialist from time to time, your general practitioner veterinarian may feel your pet needs a specialist to help diagnose or treat a particularly complicated medical problem. You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when to refer you and your pet for more specialized diagnostic work or treatment is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of medical care for his or her problem.

While in some cases, your veterinarian may be able to consult with a specialist about your pet's care, in other cases it is necessary to refer you and your pet to the specialist for more advanced diagnostics and treatment. Board certified veterinary internists may also have access to specialized diagnostic or treatment tools that a general practitioner veterinarian may not have.

What Health Problems Does A Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist Treat?

Board certified internal medicine specialists are trained to treat the most serious diseases and health problems that affect pets. They are also prepared to care for pets that may be facing multiple health problems. Thanks to better health care, more and more pets are living longer lives. As a result, an increasing number of older pets, just like older people, are coping with multiple disease states that can be very difficult to manage. For example, a cat with diabetes may also have kidney failure, or a dog in heart failure may also be diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. Internal medicine specialists are uniquely prepared to oversee the care of these complicated cases. In other situations, a younger animal may develop a problem that used to be considered untreatable but is now manageable and perhaps even curable.

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

Every time your pet is seen at VCA SouthPaws, a copy of the medical record will go to your regular veterinarian so that she/he can know what is happening, and so that we can work in partnership with your vet to facilitate follow up care.

Did You Know?

There are approximately 1400 board certified veterinary internal medicine specialists in the United States, and the number is growing.

Our Internal Medicine Services

Abdominocentesis
Arthrocentesis
Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL)
Bronchoscopy

Looking for The Referral Form?

Loading... Please wait