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My 12-year-old cat has been losing weight recently despite a voracious appetite. My veterinarian has suggested testing her for hyperthyroidism. What is this?

A -- Hyperthyroidism is a disease of older cats caused by excessive production of thyroid hormones. The usual cause is a benign tumor of the thyroid gland. Signs of excessive thyroid hormone production include weight loss despite a good appetite, increased thirst and/or urination, restlessness, decreased grooming and heart disease.

Blood testing can confirm a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism and other concurrent diseases that cause similar symptoms. Treatments for hyperthyroidism include surgical removal of the thyroid tumor, radioactive therapy and oral medication. Your veterinarian can suggest the best option for your pet.

Karen M. Fischer, DVM

A genetic defect

Q -- My dog only has one testicle, and my vet wants to neuter him. However, since he is purebred and has papers, I want to breed him. Why should I do what my vet recommends?

A -- Simply because a dog is purebred and has the papers to prove it does not mean he is a good candidate for breeding.

In your dog's case, the trait of cryptorchism, having only one descended testicle, is very likely to be due to a genetic defect, and one that is likely to be passed on to the male offspring of your dog. In addition, testicles that do not descend into the scrotum have a much higher cancer rate.

I would strongly advise you to follow your veterinarian's advice and have your dog neutered.

Stephen K. Young, DVM
Prepared as a public service by the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society. Send questions to Pets, P.O. Box 403, East Aurora, N.Y. 14052-0403. Sorry, personal replies cannot be provided.

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