The 7 Best Dog Foods for Hypothyroidism

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I just made an appointment for Calvin to be checked for some recent minor changes in his behavior as well as significant changes in his coat (excessive shedding, hair loss, and his hair been dry and brittle).

Though we have discussed these changes with both his internal medicine specialist and his general veterinarian, things are progressing even though we have made changes to his medication.

So, I am now concerned that he may be suffering from hypothyroidism.

Calvin has long suffered from food allergies, chronic pancreatitis, and this last year he was diagnosed with irritable bowel disease (IBD).

His IBD is managed with several medications, one of which is a steroid, and unfortunately, there is a link between hypothyroidism and prolonged steroid use[1].

So we are off to the vet to see if we can figure out a solution is to his continued health changes.

Calvin dog with canine hypothyroidism signs symptoms hair fur loss patches

I am hoping that these symptoms are still side effects of the medicine.

But if it is hypothyroidism, I’ve done my research and am ready for the appointment.

I have a list of questions specific to Calvin’s needs and an outline for an action plan.

Cal is in the middle with the red arrows pointing at his hair loss. He used to have thick hair like Daisy, who is on the right side of the photo.

Below I start with the list of the best dog foods for hypothyroidism.

Then, the next section is more about what hypothyroidism is and how to best choose the right food for your dog.

Best Dog Foods for Hypothyroidism

ProductProtein SourceCarb SourceRatingPrice
Solid Gold Hund-N-FlockenLamb, Fish Meal, EggsRice, Barley, Oatmeal, Peas, Chickpeas4.2$$

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Diamond Naturals AdultLamb, EggsRice, Barley, Peas, Millet4.5$

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Farmina N&D Ancestral GrainsLamb, Eggs, HerringSpelt, Oats4.7$$$$

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Purina Pro Plan SAVOR 7+Chicken, Fish MealRice, Corn, Soybean, Wheat, Barley4.6$$

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Castor & Pollux OrganixChickenOatmeal, Barley, Chickpeas, Peas4.3$$$$$

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e Honest Kitchen Beef RecipeBeef, EggsOats, Barley, Potatoes Carrots4.3$$

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Natural Balance L.I.D.DuckPotatoes4.4$$$

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Homemade RecipeChickenRiceN/A$$

Overall Best Choice

Solid Gold Hund-N-Flocken Lamb, Brown Rice, and Pearled Barley Recipe

Why it’s the Best Choice
Solid Gold Hund-N-Flocken Lamb Brown Rice Pearled Barley Recipe Review
Click the image for more info

Solid Gold Pet Foods sources the majority of their ingredients from the US; however, the elements not sourced here are from Japan, New Zealand, and France.

Also, they provide information regarding their sourcing, testing, and manufacturing on their website.

But the primary reason why I chose this brand and recipe as the “Best” is that it is a nicely balanced food with a great ingredient list and more than adequate amounts of protein, fat, and fiber for the average energy level adult dog.

Also, I used to feed Solid Gold to Daisy when she was a puppy and adolescent and she loved it!

For years it was the only kibble she would eat.

What I Liked
  • Has a significant amount of probiotics to support good GI health
  • It contains healthy grains, providing a good source of energy
  • Uses natural preservatives
What I Didn’t Like
  • It is not suitable for dogs with food allergies

Budget Choice

Diamond Naturals Adult Dog Lamb Meal and Rice

Hey! Don’t stop reading because you saw “Meal.” It’s not near as bad as you think.

Diamond Naturals adult dog lamb meal rice formula budget thyroid food
Click the image for more info

In fact, it’s likely to be quite a bit better.

Meat meal products are more nutrient-dense than the whole meat.

The difference between lamb in its original state and lamb meal is that lamb meal lacks the water and fat it originally contained, making it weigh less[2].

So, when looking at the ingredient list, items are listed based on their weight from highest to lowest.

What this ultimately means is that there is more protein, vitamins, and nutrients in the food if they are using meal since the water and fat have been removed before they weigh the product.

Why it’s the Best Choice
  • Diamond Naturals is a global family-owned and operated business.
  • Diamond uses a rigorous testing procedure, which they listed on their website and certified veterinary nutritionists to formulate their pet food

Plus, their food contains probiotics, glucosamine, and chondroitin, and it only averages $0.92 per pound for the 40 lb bag.

What I Liked
  • The chicken, lamb, and beef they use are all cage-free or pasture-raised
  • No artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors
  • Contains dried beet pulp which promotes good digestive health
What I Didn’t Like
  • White rice is the second ingredient; I would have preferred to see brown rice
  • It is not hypoallergenic

Upgrade Choice 

Farmina N&D Ancestral Grains Lamb and Blueberry

Why it’s the Best Choice
Farmina N D Ancestral Grains best choice upgrade pick dog food for hypothyroidism
Click the image for more info

Farmina uses state of the art technology to ensure the quality of their pet foods.

Additionally, they work with a skilled team of veterinary nutritionists to create complete and balanced formulas.

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Also, Farmina has a wide variety of foods to suit the needs of different breed sizes, life stages, and health issues.

I have tried several Farmina diets with my dogs, and they have all been relatively well-received, and our dogs have never experienced any GI issues when using this brand.

What I Liked
  • The superfoods listed are at the top half of the ingredient list
  • No artificial preservatives
  • Cruelty-free research
  • Contains chondroitin and glucosamine
What I Didn’t Like
  • Price

Best for Older Dogs

Purina Pro Plan SAVOR Shredded Blend Adult 7+ Chicken & Rice

Why it’s the Best Choice
Purina Pro Plan Savor Shredded Chicken Rice Hypothyroid Dog Food
Click the image for more info

Purina Pro Plan SAVOR 7+ is tested using AAFCO procedures to ensure the food is both complete and balanced.

Also, it has a higher protein level to maintain proper muscle mass.

I like the Purina brand since they spell out their manufacturing and quality processes, and 99% of the ingredients are from the US.

Plus, most dogs find Purina Pro Plan Senior quite palatable, likely because it is a combination of hard and soft kibble bits.

Though I don’t feed this food to my dogs due to food allergies, my mom feeds it to her dog Gussie who absolutely loves it!

What I Liked
  • Contain Glucosamine to promote good joint health
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Fortified with pre- and probiotics
What I Didn’t Like
  • It isn’t a good fit for dogs with food allergies

Best Organic Option

Castor & Pollux Organix Organic Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food

Why it’s the Best Choice
Castor Pollux Organix organic chicken oatmeal hypothyroid dog food
Click the image for more info

Organix was one of the first organic pet foods to hit the market in 2003.

And, in 2017 they took their food to the next level and guaranteed that all of their formulas were compliant with the USDA standards.

Organix now complies with all USDA Organic Program regulations and is reviewed by independent USDA-Accredited experts to ensure compliance.

Though I don’t have a lot of personal experience with this food, it has received favorable reviews, though the most significant complaint is the price.

What I Liked
  • The food is manufactured in the US
  • The two main grains oatmeal and barley are good energy sources and are easy to digest
  • Made with free-range organic chicken, which are the first and second ingredients (Chicken, Chicken Meal)
What I Didn’t Like
  • Price – The 18-pound bag averages $4.09/pound

Non-Dry Dog Food Choice 

The Honest Kitchen Beef Recipe

Why it’s the Best Choice
The Honest Kitchen whole grain beef high quality dog food
Click the image for more info

The Honest Kitchen is unique dog food because it is a dehydrated food instead of the traditional kibble.

To prepare this food, you just add water, and presto! You have a balanced meal for your pup.

This is a brand I have often turned to when my dogs aren’t eating well.

It is microwavable, which helps to enhance the appeal of the food since it smells super good.

Though this food may appear expensive, it is a condensed food, so a 10-pound box is equal to a 40-pound bag of food.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about hurting your back when carrying it.

What I Liked
  • They list the ingredients as “human grade” and, though this term is not regulated for pet food (see below for more information on this), they do define what human-grade means
  • It’s great for picky eaters
  • They offer both foods with and without grains
What I Didn’t Like
  • It takes a bit more prep time than dumping a scoop of kibble
  • Not all dogs like the consistency; if not mixed with enough water it can be overly dense

Best Grain-Free Choice

Natural Balance L.I.D. Potato & Duck

Why it’s the Best ChoiceNatural Balance LID Limited Ingredient Diet potato duck formula

Some of us have been long-time dog parents and have certain dog food brands that we feel are solid foods that have proven themselves of the years.

Natural Balance is one of those brands for me.

I’ve been feeding this brand off and on for over 20 years.

This food has been around for a very long time and was one of the few grain-free dog foods 20+ years ago.

This formula uses a single protein source and carries a nicely balanced amount of protein, fat, and fiber, which would be a perfect match for the majority of dogs.

What I Liked
  • Perfect for dogs with allergies
  • Price
  • It is suitable for most dogs
What I Didn’t Like
  • For dogs with DCM or risks of DCM, this may not be the best choice

Homemade Dog Food Recipe for Hypothyroidism

A few things that need to be mentioned before we dive into the recipe:

  • It is best to get a recipe from a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. I know it is expensive but so is home cooking, and you owe it to your dog to feed them the very best. Remember, there are different nutritional needs between humans and dogs.
  • Feeding a homemade diet not created by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist can be okay for short periods, especially if you are just trying to get your dog to eat. According to Tufts University, the long-term use of homemade diets not correctly formulated by a professional can cause more harm than good.

Dark meat chicken recipe for dogs with hypothyroidism how to cookSpeaking from personal experience, I’ve made homemade food and started before I was able to get into the nutritionist.

I was feeling pretty confident that I was providing a well-balanced diet.

However, the truth was quite different.

Though I was adding a variety of vegetables, proteins, and carbs, there weren’t enough to meet all of Daisy’s dietary needs.

Plus, I was low on fat and carbohydrates and spending too much on useless supplements.

Homemade Dog Food Recipe

The following recipe was formulated by the MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center, which states that this recipe is intended for dogs with no medical issues[3].

Despite this, it’s hypothyroidism-friendly since food quality is more important than specific ingredients. 

PurposeIngredientGramsMeasurementCooked?
Protein SourceDark Chicken Meat1304.5 ozYes
Carbohydrate SourceWhite or Brown Rice3202 cupsYes
Fiber SourceMixed Vegetables251 1/2 TbspNo
Fat SourceVegetable Oil10 to 152 to 3 tspNo
SupplementBalance IT Canine102.5 ScoopsNo

How to Serve the Homemade Food

Homemade dog food recipe thyroid problems high quality ingredients healthy
You can save time by teaching your dog to warm up their own food

This recipe is a single day’s amount for your average 30 lb dog.

Split the 500 grams/1.1 pounds over the day as you feed your dog and adjust the daily amount up or down to fit your dog’s weight and activity level.

You can cook multiple batches at once and keep the food in your fridge for several days.

Gently warm up the food before feeding it to your dog if they don’t like cold food but make sure there are no hot spots before you feed your pup!

You can also bake the food at 350 F for 20-30 minutes to dry it out if your dog prefers dry kibble.

What is Hypothyroidism in Dogs?

Hypothyroidism is a disease that impacts the thyroid gland and causes either inflammation or shrinkage[4].

The thyroid gland releases thyroid hormones that control your dog’s metabolism and internal thermostat.

Hypothyroidism is most commonly found in:

Dog thyroid gland location what is hypothyroidism causes symptoms
Illustration by Petful.com (CC BY 2.0)
  • Medium to large dogs
  • Middle-aged dogs such as dogs 4-10 years old
  • Altered dogs (spayed or neutered)

Any dog can have hypothyroidism, but some dog breeds tend to be more prone to it, breeds like:

  • Golden Retrievers
  • Irish Setters
  • Doberman Pinchers
  • Dachshunds
  • Boxers
  • Cocker Spaniels

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

The most common symptoms of hypothyroidism are:

  • Changes in their coat such as thinning, lack of luster, excessive shedding (Hair loss is most often seen in the torso and rarely impacts the head or legs)
    Hypothyroid symptoms fur loss lethargy what to look for thyroid issues
    Alopecia (hair loss) due to hypothyroidism
    Photo by Caroldermoid (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  • Reduced activity level or sluggishness
  • Weight gain
  • Inability to tolerate the cold
  • Thickening of skin
  • Increase color in skin pigmentation
  • Toenail or ear infections[5]
  • Skin infections
  • Muscle loss
  • Changes in facial muscles causing the face to droop
  • Mental dullness

What to Look for in Food for a Dog with Hypothyroidism

Though there is no special hypothyroidism diet other than a healthy balanced diet, there are still multiple factors to consider to be sure you’re feeding a food that will best support your dog’s health.

Important factors to consider when finding the best dog food for hypothyroidism are:

Nutritional Adequacy StatementAAFCO nutritional adequacy statement dog food quality guarantee

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) states that the most critical factor to look for in quality dog food is the Nutritional Adequacy Statement[6].

The label should declare “Complete and Balanced,” meaning that the food possesses the required nutrients and correct nutrient ratios, as outlined by the FDA.

Your Dog’s Lifestage

Be sure to choose food with the proper life stage.

Foods are deemed “Complete and Balanced” based on the needs of specific life stages.

And, as we all know, the nutritional needs of a puppy, adult, or senior dog do vary.

Good Ingredients

I like, most people, go directly to the ingredient list to see what it contains and usually stop reading when I hit all the unpronounceable ingredients.

Best dog food ingredients for canine hypothyroidism superfoods meat fiber

Additionally, I love to see superfoods like blueberries, spinach, and kale.

Unfortunately, through diving deeper into dog food ingredients, these superfoods don’t always hold as much importance as I once believed.

Based on the findings from Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University[7], the clinical nutritionist team warns that ingredients lower on the list after salt or other mineral and vitamin supplements may only contain a few grams of each per pound.

Meaning these ingredients have been added more for us than our fur babies!

I’m not suggesting we should disregard the ingredient list, but instead make a note of where the ingredients fall on that list.

Additionally, most, if not all, of the unpronounceable words are the much needed added vitamins and nutrients.

Name of the Food (not the Brand) 

Solid Gold Hund N Flocken ingredient standards laws regulations
These rules are why this dog food’s fish meal and chickpea ingredients don’t show up on the front

There are regulations as to how a product can be named since the name dictates the percentage content required in the food[8].

So, if the name of the food is:

  • Chicken Dog Food – It is required to contain at least 95% chicken and must be at least 70% when considering the water added
  • Beef Dinner – The word “Dinner” means that the food contains at least 25% of that ingredient and must be at least 10% when water is added
  • Dog Food with Salmon – The “With” indicates the food contains at least 3% salmon

Where the Food is Manufactured and the Ingredients are Sourced

Not all foods need to be manufactured here or even have ingredients sourced here.

But be sure that if they are not in the US, the country the food is made or where the ingredients are sourced are countries with equal to or higher than our pet food safety regulations.

Formulated by a Certified Veterinarian Nutritionist

How to choose the right dog food for my pet with canine hypothyroidism
This pizza is unlikely to be CVM-approved
Photo by sakura (CC BY 2.0)

Certified Vet Nutritionists are the experts in dog nutrition, so some dog food brands hire them to design their foods.

Sometimes, but not always, will this be stated on a bag.

If not, a quick visit to the dog food website or a quick call should answer that question.

No law states dog food manufacturers require a CVM to formulate their dog food.

Dietary Supplements

If your dog has arthritis or has a sensitive stomach, I encourage you to find foods that contain supplements that aid in that condition.

For example, ingredients like probiotics, chondroitin, glucosamine, and Omega-3 fatty acids are all ingredients that can help specific health concerns.

Speaking of “health concerns,” does your dog suffer from urinary tract issues? Then check out our list of the best urinary care dog foods!

Avoid Foods with Artificial Preservatives, Colors, and Flavors

Though they may not all be harmful, there are enough that are linked to some illnesses, and I think we can all agree none of these ingredients add any nutritional value to our dog’s diets.

Some common artificial preservatives to avoid are:

  • Ethoxyquin[9]
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Instead, look for ingredients like:

  • Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols)
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • Plant extracts (e.g., rosemary)

I know this is not the traditional list of things to look for in a dog food, but there is no specific diet for hypothyroidism other than a high-quality, balanced diet.

Conclusion

We, as dog parents, myself at the front of the line, can easily be swept away by the packaging and claims we find on the bag.

Of course, we want food with high-quality protein, but there is no way of telling the actual quality level.

The bag can claim those things, but there is no standard defined for using that claim.

For example, using “Human Grade” has no legal or official definition in regards to pet food regulation. I’m not going to lie; I am a huge fan of seeing that statement.

That being said, reading between the lines, I’d like to think that the declaration implies the ingredients are of a higher standard.

But I know nothing is stopping the shady company from using it, too.

If the dog food meets all of the requirements on the list above then you know you are starting with a well-balanced diet and from there can consider the other information provided by the company.

What is most important is to find food that is well made, balanced, and nutritious. All of the dog foods recommended above have met the above criteria.

FAQs

Can Hypothyroidism Cause Anxiety in Dogs?

Yes. Behavioral issues such as anxiety, fearfulness, and depression are common symptoms of hypothyroidism[10].

Can Dog Food Cause Thyroid Problems?

Yes. Foods containing animal gullets have the possibility of containing hormones and thyroid tissues, which can lead to the rare disease hyperthyroidism, a disease often associated with cancer[11].

Note: Hyperthyroidism is different than Hypothyroidism.

How Is Hypothyroidism Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of hypothyroidism is a combination of bloodwork and a physical exam.

Bloodwork is not always conclusive, but a physical exam and list of symptoms aid in accurately diagnosing the disease.

Resources

  1. https://brightwoodanimalhospital.com/hypothyroidism.pml
  2. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/dog-food-myths/
  3. http://support.mspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=latestnews_GenericPetFoodRecipes
  4. https://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/outreach/Pet-Health-Topics/categories/diseases/hypothyroidism-in-dogs
  5. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/thyroid-disease-in-dogs/
  6. https://talkspetfood.aafco.org/readinglabels#adequacy
  7. https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2016/06/why-you-shouldnt-judge-a-pet-food-by-its-ingredient-list/
  8. https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/pet-food-labels-general#Product
  9. https://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/jcoates/2012/dec/natural-artificial-preservatives-in-dog-foods-29523
  10. https://www.hemopet.org/dog-aberrant-behavior-thyroid-dysfunction/
  11. http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/fda-issues-warning-about-thyroid-hormones-pet-food-and-treats

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