Endocrinology is the study of the hormonal systems in the body. A hormone can be briefly defined a substance or chemical that is produced in one place and then transported elsewhere to exert its action. Most of us are familiar with reproductive hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. These are produced in the ovaries and testicles. The pituitary gland is in the brain and masterminds much of the body ™s hormone production. Messengers from the pituitary stimulate other glands to make their hormones. The adrenal glands are found near the kidneys and they produce epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol. Both of these are essential for dealing with stress. The adrenal glands also produce hormones that regulate sodium and potassium levels. The thyroid gland is in the neck and it produces thyroid hormones. This determines the rate of metabolism – how fast various processes proceed. In general, a higher thyroid level means a pet will burn calories faster – they ™ll run more like a sports car than a Moped. The pancreas produces insulin and another hormone to help regulate blood glucose levels and the body ™s ability to use glucose as energy. The kidney produces hormones that stimulate red blood cell production and the parathyroid glands in the neck produce hormones to help control calcium and phosphorous levels.
The interaction of all these hormones in maintaining a normally functioning body is truly amazing – what a wonderful design! Any of our doctors would be happy to talk with you about endocrinology or anything else.
by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP