Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dr. Mark Peterson Interviewed for "My Pet World" News Column About Treating a Geriatric Hyperthyroid Cat

My Pet World: Advice from the Experts
By Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services 

Q: The thyroid levels for my 21-year-old cat have recently become elevated, indicative of early stage hyperthyroidism. My veterinarian recommended a prescription diet (Hill's prescription y/d) or transdermally administered methimazole. The veterinarian believes radioactive iodine is a bit too extreme for a cat of this age.

I'm worried that my cat will find the (prescription) diet unpalatable. I'm also concerned about the side effects of transdermal medication. I'm impressed with what I've read about a natural solution called Resthyro. What's your opinion on what I should do for my feisty geriatric cat? -- N.M., Highland Park, IL

A: Dr. Mark Peterson, of New York City, is one of the world's experts on this topic, and helped create the radioactive iodine treatment you mention. Hyperthyroid disease nearly always occurs in older cats. Still, he says he understands that with a cat as elderly as yours, there are limits on what it makes sense to do. "I can see where this cat is no candidate for radioactive iodine," he commented. This treatment typically cures hyperthyroid disease, and is benign, but takes the cat away from home for several days of treatment.

Peterson says he doesn't personally see many adverse reactions to transdermal medication (delivering medication through the skin rather than a pill) for hyperthyroid disease. And he's seen a lot of hyperthyroid cats. Of course, side effects can potentially occur with any medication, but sometimes what you read on the Internet may be skewed. The pill version of methimazole may be just fine, but you no doubt know it can be hard to convince a cat to take a pill, which is why the transdermal might be preferred.

As for the new Hills prescription y/d diet, Peterson says, "It's long-term safety for real use is unknown." He's not absolutely convinced about the diet, and agrees that any diet change might be a problem for a 21-year-old pet. Still, that's a possible option.

As for Resthyro, Peterson said he has not seen much success. If you want to try the "natural" route, ask your veterinarian about L-Carnitine (a nutritional supplement available wherever vitamins and supplements for people are sold). Peterson says if your cat is mildly hyperthyroid, this may the best option worth trying, but do monitor your cat's thyroid levels. Open the capsule and sprinkle the contents on your cat's food or a special treat, such as a bit of chicken. Try starting at 250 mg daily. 

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About Steve Dale:
Steve Dale, pet expert and certified dog and cat behavior consultant, reaches more pet owners than any other pet journalist in America. Steve writes a twice-weekly syndicated newspaper column (Tribune Media Services).

He is also a contributing editor at USA Weekend and is the host of two nationally syndicated radio shows, Steve Dale’s Pet World and The Pet Minute, and Steve Dale’s Pet World at WLS Radio, Chicago.  To learn more, visit Steve's website at www.stevedalepetworld.com.

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