Hill’s Pet Nutrition released an updated set of guidelines and algorithms for veterinarians managing a cat's hyperthyroid conditions with its Prescription Diet y/d Feline Thyroid Health pet food.Prescription Diet y/d Feline must be the only food eaten by the feline patient, Hill’s says, because consuming any other food or treats will decrease or prevent the cat food’s beneficial effects.
S. Dru Forrester, DVM, director of scientific and technical communication for Hill’s, says veterinarians should first perform a clinical examination on the feline patient, checking for signs such as weight loss, polyphagia, hyperactivity, polyuria, polydipsia, cardiac murmur, tachycardia, vomiting and diarrhea.
Following the clinical examination, vets should do a diagnostic evaluation on the patient, involving looking at the patient’s history, physical examination, complete blood count, serum chemistries, urinalysis and measurement of serum thyroxine, or T4, said Dr. Forrester.
After the diagnosis, Dr. Forrester recommends that vets discuss their findings with the pet owner and outline the various management options, which include radioactive iodine, anti-thyroid medication methimazole, Hill’s Prescription Diet y/d Feline or a thyroidectomy.
“Every veterinarian who diagnoses this should discuss all of those options with the pet owner, and the advantages and disadvantages of each,” she said. “You have to figure out what’s best for the individual cat and the owner.”
If a hyperthyroid cat is being transitioned from medication to the pet food, Forrester said that a baseline evaluation should be done, and depending on the results, the medication dosage should either be discontinued or reduced by 50 percent when the transition to the cat food begins.
“The food and the medication can have a potentially potent effect, making the thyroid hormone go too low,” said Forrester. “Cats should be carefully monitored when they transition off the medication and are beginning nutritional management. In the recently revised guidelines, we added more detailed information to help veterinarians understand the importance of doing that baseline evaluation, even though the cat is receiving anti-thyroid medication.”
The most current version of suggested guidelines and algorithms are available online.
“The key is careful monitoring,” said Forrester. “Use your clinical judgment. The guidelines we’ve provided are suggestions and can’t account for every nuance of every single patient. The attending veterinarian is in the best position to make decisions for their individual patients.”