Ending Daily Medication Struggles With Another Treatment Option For Your Hyperthyroid Cat

Pets & Animals Blog

Hyperthyroidism, defined as an overactive thyroid gland, is one of the most commonly diagnosed health problems in senior cats. While many owners initially opt for the conservative treatment protocol of administering daily medication to regulate their cat's thyroid hormone levels and reduce the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, some cats become increasingly stressed with the pilling process. To avoid putting a strain on your relationship with your kitty, consider another treatment method that is available as a permanent cure for many feline patients with this disease.

What Is Radioactive Iodine?

Dietary iodine is a mineral that becomes concentrated in the thyroid gland tissues to prompt the production of thyroid hormones. Healthy thyroid tissue cannot concentrate radioiodine (I131), a radioactive form of iodine. When radioiodine (I131) is introduced into the cat's body, only the diseased tissue can concentrate it. The neighboring healthy tissues and organs are spared, the diseased tissues are destroyed and normal thyroid function can resume.

How Is Radioactive Iodine Treatment Administered?

Radioactive iodine treatment is administered in a single injection under the cat's skin. Most of the injected radioiodine (I131) accumulates in the cat's thyroid gland. Radioactive iodine then begins to degenerate, emitting radiation during the process. Any of the substance that has not found its way to the thyroid gland is expelled from the body when the cat urinates or defecates. As the radioactive iodine emits radiation, the cat must remain in the treatment facility for a period of five days to one week, or until the radiation levels are low enough for the cat to be discharged from the treatment facility. State laws do not permit family visitations while your cat is in the facility, and when your cat is sent home, you will be instructed in safety precautions and post-treatment care of your cat. Radioactive iodine treatment must be administered in a specialty hospital that is specifically equipped to handle radioactive substances.

Is Radioactive Iodine Treatment a Feasible Option for Owners?

Many owners do not consider the radioactive iodine treatment option because they assume that this choice is more costly than treating their cat with medication. Radioactive iodine treatment is actually less costly than other treatment methods in the long run for the following reasons:

  • Radioactive iodine treatment is a one-time treatment, and followup blood tests to monitor the cat's health status are performed over the course of a few months thereafter.
  • Treatment with medication and/or a prescription diet must be carried out for the remainder of the cat's life, and blood tests must be performed periodically for the life of the cat as well to monitor the thyroid levels and adjust the dose of medication accordingly.
  • The third treatment option for hyperthyroidism in cats is surgery to remove the diseased portion of the thyroid gland. In many cases, secondary surgeries are required to remove more diseased tissue. In some cases, this surgery results in an underactive thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism, which requires lifelong drug treatment and blood test monitoring.

One potential obstacle for owners who reside in rural areas is the lack of facilities in reasonable proximity that are equipped to administer radioactive iodine treatment.

Is Your Cat a Candidate for Radioactive Iodine Treatment?

Some cats that are easily and excessively stressed by the presence of strangers or changes in their daily routine may not fare as well during the extended hospital stay. Age is not a factor in determining whether or not your cat is an ideal candidate, but current cardiac and kidney health is. All cats must undergo screening tests prior to consideration for radioactive iodine treatment. These tests may include:

  • Blood chemistry panel and complete blood count
  • Radiographs
  • EKG

Once the test results reveal that your cat is healthy enough to undergo treatment, the hospital staff will discuss the treatment process with you, provide you with pre-treatment instructions and discuss how your cat will be cared for during the hospital stay.

Facts to Consider

Radioactive iodine treatment does not pose adverse side effects. It does not destroy or damage healthy tissue or surrounding organs. Other factors that make radioactive iodine treatment the most favorable treatment option include:

  • Unlike surgery, it is noninvasive and does not require anesthesia.
  • It restores normal thyroid hormone levels in 98-percent of cases within one month.
  • It is a permanent cure for hyperthyroidism, eliminating the costs and hassles of lifelong medication, prescription food and blood tests.

Hyperthyroidism is ultimately fatal if the disease is not treated. For more information, contact Midtown Veterinary Clinic or a similar location.


21 September 2015

A Guide to Avoiding Pet Emergencies

Animal emergencies happen quite often, and I have seen a lot of different injuries at the veterinary office I work at. Vehicle incidents, falls, and fights with other animals can all cause these injuries. Some of the most surprising emergencies I see though, are when pets eat substances that make them ill. Dogs and cats can both get sick by ingesting flowers, essential oils, and certain types of food items that humans eat. I even see some animals that become ill when they eat shoes, towels, and their own toys. I know that the vast majority of pet owners love their animals dearly. Most medical emergencies are purely accidental. You can easily save your precious feline or canine from harm as long as you know how the most common injuries occur. The articles posted here can help you with this, so start reading to make sure your pet remains healthy.