How Much Does a Dog Thyroid Test Cost?

dog hiding not feeling well

As our dogs’ best friends, we know when they seem under the weather. Like humans, dogs that feel sick will act weak and tired. You might assume your pup is being lazy, but a drop in energy could be a sign of thyroid disease. In this article, we’ll help you understand what a dog thyroid test costs and what treatment options are available so your dog can get back to being its happy, playful self.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • How Much Dog Thyroid Tests Cost
  • What Causes Thyroid Disorders in Dogs
  • How To Treat Your Dog’s Thyroid Disorder
  • Whether Pet Insurance Covers Thyroid Testing

Breakdown: Dog Thyroid Test Costs

To understand dog thyroid test costs, you need to know what your dog is actually being tested for. Screening tests may differ amongst providers, but most thyroid blood work monitors levels of the following hormones:

  • T4 (Thyroxine)
  • T3 (Triiodothyronine)
  • Free T4 (Free thyroxine)
  • TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone)
  • TgAA (Thyroglobulin autoantibody)

Look out for these terms when considering thyroid testing for your pet. T3 and T4 are produced by the thyroid and are both required for proper metabolic function. When reviewing your pet’s test results, vets check for abnormalities in these hormone levels.

Typical Costs 

The average cost of thyroid testing for dogs is $75-$150.

To diagnose your dog’s hypothyroidism, your veterinarian will run multiple blood tests to determine imbalances in levels of thyroid hormones. Some vets may also run urine tests to eliminate other possible diagnoses.

The Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Missouri provides average costs for canine diagnostic testing, including two thyroid panels and a urinalysis.

Here is an idea of how much a dog thyroid test costs:

Test

Average Cost

Thyroid Panel 1

$50

Thyroid Panel 2

$60

Complete Urinalysis

$35

If your vet runs all of the above tests on your dog, you will pay around $130 in testing fees. Tack on the average $50 office fee, and you are up to $180.

Costs by Top Breeds

Dog thyroid test costs do not typically vary from breed to breed. Your dog’s vet will run the same tests regardless of your pet’s age, breed, or size. However, some dog breeds might be more susceptible to certain disorders than others. 

According to the American Kennel Club, the following breeds are at greater risk of developing hypothyroidism:

  • Golden Retriever
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Dachshund 
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Airedale Terrier
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Irish Setter

In general, medium-to-large breeds are more likely to develop hypothyroidism than smaller and toy breeds. If you have a medium-to-large-sized dog or one of the breeds listed above, you may be more likely to pay for thyroid testing. However, any breed can develop hypothyroidism, and the cost of testing will be comparable across breeds.

Minimum Costs Associated

You may be tempted to cut testing costs and have your vet run only one blood panel on your dog. However, thyroid disease can be hard to diagnose in dogs because the symptoms are similar to those of many other illnesses. For this reason, your best bet is to run all available tests and have a better picture of what’s causing your dog’s illness. 

If you opt for the cheapest testing option and waive the others, you will likely pay about $80-$100 to cover both the test and office fee. If your dog is diagnosed with hypothyroidism and taking medication for the condition, you might pay $50-$75 for tests to monitor T4 levels as you figure out the correct dosage.

Maximum Costs Associated 

Based on quotes from several veterinary practices in Raleigh, N.C., diagnostic thyroid testing can cost anywhere from $110-$190. If the dog just needs T4 levels monitored, you might pay about $75. For more comprehensive diagnostic testing, your vet will need to run more tests to get a full picture of your pet’s condition.

Test

Price

Test to monitor T4 levels

$75

Thyroid blood panel

$110

Complete Blood Count test, Blood Chemistry Test, and T4 levels

$190

It is important to note that most vets will not conduct blood work without first completing a routine physical exam of your pet. Such exams average about $50 but can cost up to $90, depending on your provider. Based on these quotes, the maximum you might pay for thyroid testing is about $300 when you factor in fees for diagnostic testing, a physical exam, and an office visit.

Thyroid Disorders in Dogs

What are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?

In dogs, the following symptoms may indicate hypothyroidism:

  • Hair loss/thinning
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Coat dullness
  • Skin scaling and infection

Dogs symptomatic of hypothyroidism might also exhibit high cholesterol levels, anemia, and elevated count of white blood cells. Although rare, dogs can also suffer from hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, resulting in diarrhea, weight loss, anxiety, and high heart rate. In both cases, impaired thyroid function will affect your dog’s normal behavior.

Unlike dogs, cats are more likely to develop hyperthyroidism. However, they can still suffer from an underactive thyroid.

In cats, the following are clinical signs of hypothyroidism:

  • Weakness/lethargy
  • Low body temperature and cold intolerance
  • Unhealthy hair
  • Weight gain

What Causes Thyroid Disorders?

The thyroid is a gland in your dog’s neck that controls hormone levels and metabolic rate.

The thyroid gland works in tandem with the pituitary gland to release hormones. Two of these chemicals, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), are used in diagnostic testing for thyroid disease. Free T4, the part of the T4 hormone that isn’t attached to a protein, can be used to differentiate hypothyroidism from other chronic conditions.

Around 50% of thyroid disorders in dogs are caused by a hereditary disease called lymphocytic thyroiditis. This condition occurs when the autoimmune system mistakenly labels thyroid cells as harmful and attacks them, causing inflammation of the thyroid gland. Dogs suspected of having autoimmune thyroiditis will be tested for total T4, free T4, thyroid stimulating hormone, and antithyroglobulin antibody levels.

Idiopathic atrophy, a gradual deterioration of thyroid cells, causes the other 50 or so percent of dog thyroid disorders. The cause of cell atrophy is unknown and typically becomes symptomatic in dogs between ages 2 and 5.

In rare cases, hypothyroidism can develop from cancer of the thyroid gland.

Treatment Options

A diagnosis of hypothyroidism doesn’t mean life or death for your dog. The condition doesn’t currently have a vaccination or cure, but it can be treated. Your vet will treat your dog with thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Thyroid medication comes in the form of a pill and will need to be administered daily. 

There are currently two FDA-approved thyroid hormone drugs available. The pills vary in strength and will be calculated based on your dog’s weight. 

Recovery Time

While symptoms like hair loss and skin infections take longer to improve, your dog will likely feel less fatigued and show higher activity levels within a few weeks of beginning medication. After diagnosis and initial treatment, you will need to take your dog to follow-up appointments to test for improvements, declines, or plateaus in hormone levels. Once you establish the correct dosage, you will administer it daily for the remainder of your pet’s life.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Thyroid Testing Costs?

Pet insurance covers unexpected illnesses and injuries in your pet. Thyroid issues typically arise without warning in middle-aged dogs, so costs of testing, treatments, and medications often qualify for coverage and reimbursement.

Dogs can’t be accurately tested at birth for genetic thyroid disease because the issues often develop later in life without warning. However, if a hypothyroid dog is diagnosed prior to the start of an insurance plan, it may be labeled as a pre-existing condition and lack coverage. 

Be sure to read a policy’s fine print to fully understand coverage for hypothyroid dogs.

Final Thoughts

We hope this article has helped you understand what thyroid disorders are and how much a dog thyroid test costs. If you suspect your dog is having thyroid issues, there are a variety of testing options available. If thyroid disease is the diagnosis, the vet will treat your dog with synthetic hormone medication to maintain hormone levels and produce a balanced metabolic rate. With daily treatment and routine checkups, you can get your pup back to being its healthy, playful self.