Thyroid Problems in Golden Retrievers by jennyyingdi

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									Gold Ribbon Gazette                                                                                                            September 2002

GRR Health

Thyroid Problems in Golden Retrievers
             by Monique Lenczycki
One of GRR's early experiences with
                                                                                                                 % of Dogs
hypothyroidism was Brooke. When she                 Clinical Symptoms for all dogs1                           Showing Symptoms
arrived at GRR, we believed her to be an            High blood cholesterol                                           80
elderly female in very poor shape. She was
extremely lethargic (she wanted to sleep all        Lethargy/mental dullness                                         70
day), had a terribly brittle coat, was cranky       Hair loss                                                        65
with other dogs in her foster home, and             Weight gain/obesity                                              60
could not walk many steps without
stumbling in her hindquarters (initially we         Dry hair coat/excessive shedding                                 60
believed this to be from arthritis). Muscles        Anemia                                                           50
showed wasting all over her body. After             Hyperpigmentation of the skin
two weeks in care, Brooke wasn't getting
any better and a quality of life decision was         - very common in GR’s                                               25
in order. Several GRR volunteers met her            Cold intolerance                                                      15
and saw what looked to be a senior dog              Slow heart rate                                                       10
with all kinds of problems, but the part that
didn’t add up was her eyes. They reminded
us of a younger dog and the look in her         dandruff, oily skin, roughing of the skin,     dog families (like golden retrievers) known
eyes did not tell us she’d given up. GRR        development of a “rat tail”, increased skin    to have thyroid disease.
took Brooke back to the vet and asked for       infections, increased scratching and
more answers—and a Geriatric blood profile      hyperpigmentation—a darkening of areas,        One of the nicest things about this disease
revealed low thyroid values.                    or spots of skin. Other symptoms include       is that it is easily treated and the majority of
                                                personality changes (lethargy, fearfulness,    the symptoms resolve after treatment is
Hypothyroidism is a common problem for          aggression, hyperactivity) and seizures.       started. It takes 4-6 weeks for the dog’s
dogs but rarely occurs in cats. Hypo-           The earlier the disease is detected, the       body levels to normalize and symptoms
thyroidism occurs when not enough               fewer symptoms the dog will display. A         disappear over the next few months.
thyroid hormone is produced. The thyroid        study on various breeds of hypothyroid         The coat abnormalities take the longest
gland has a number of different functions       dogs revealed the following information on     to correct.
but is most well known for its role in          the variety and frequency of symptoms
regulating metabolism.                          seen with the disease (see table above).1      Treatment consists of putting the dog on a
                                                                                               twice daily dose of synthetic thyroid
Goldens most commonly show signs of this        Hypothyroidism is easy to diagnose with        hormone called thyroxine (levothyroxine).
disease between 4-10 years of age,              blood tests that check the level of various    There are brand names of this drug as well
although it is not unheard of for it to occur   thyroid hormones. Many dogs suffer from a      as generics. Some vets recommend using
in younger dogs and even puppies. It            low thyroid hormone level for years without    brand names such as Soloxine® (Daniels)
occurs equally in both sexes, but spayed        treatment. If your dog has chronic             and Synthroid® (Flint) for initial treatment,
females appear to develop it more often         recurrent skin or ear problems, s/he may be    especially with smaller breeds.3 There is
than intact females. 1,3                        suffering from hypothyroidism.1 The most       evidence that the brand name preparations
                                                common blood test is called the T4 test.       work better than generics in smaller
Hypothyroidism causes a wide variety of         With respect to the T4 test, a result in the   breeds. We have not seen specific evidence
symptoms. It is commonly suspected in           ‘normal range’ is not enough to discount       of this at GRR and have used both brand
dogs with weight gain or obesity. While         hypothyroidism. At GRR we have found           and generic thyroid medications for
this is a classic sign, only 60% of hypo-       that many dogs with symptoms and a “low        several years.
thyroid dogs will show this symptom.1           normal” test result are hypothyroid and
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism in            need to be medicated for this disease.         A dog is generally placed on a standard
GR’s include repeated ear infections, skin      Experts state the blood values should be in    dose for his weight and blood samples are
and coat abnormalities such as a poor, thin     the upper 1/2 to 1/3 of the laboratory         drawn to check his response with the dose
coat, dullness, wiry feel, loss of hair or      normal ranges to successfully rule out         then adjusted accordingly. Follow-up
excessive shedding, thickening of the skin,     hypothyroidism. Lower levels are suspect       testing after initiating treatment is usually
                                                and may well be indicative of the early        performed after four to eight weeks of
                                                stages of thyroid problems, especially in      therapy. The blood sample should be taken
         2
Gold Ribbon Gazette                                                                                                          September 2002


4-6 hours after the morning dosage.              Once the long term dosage is determined,        1
                                                                                                  HYPOTHYROIDISM, Joe Bodewes, DVM
Correct therapeutic ranges after treatment       the medicine can be purchased in bulk           Veterinary Services Department, Drs. Foster &
                                                                                                 Smith, Inc
is begun should be at the top 1/3 to 25%         quantities (250-1000 pills) to make
                                                                                                 http://www.peteducation.com/article_print.cfm
above the upper limits of the lab reference      maintenance more cost effective. Once           ?cls=2&articleid=449
ranges (except for geriatric dogs where          therapy is started the dog will need to be
mid-range is adequate). Dosage should be         on treatment for the rest of its life.          2
                                                                                                  BEHAVIORAL CHANGES ASSOCIATED WITH
adjusted accordingly to achieve optimum                                                          THYROID DYSFUNCTION IN DOGS, W. Jean Dodds,
                                                                                                 DVM and Linda P. Aronson, DVM
therapeutic range.                               Ironically the initial thyroid test on Brooke
                                                                                                 http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-
                                                 was not a low as you’d have expected in a       angels.com/behaviorandthyroid.htm
Thyroid hormones should always be given          dog that symptomatic. It was somewhere
twice daily to obtain the best response. It is   just below the test normal range. GRR           3
                                                                                                  AUTOIMMUNE THYROID DISEASE: COMMON
now known that the half-life of T4 in the        decided we had nothing to lose by trying        PROBLEM OF PUREBRED DOGS, W. Jean Dodds,
                                                                                                 DVM
dog is about 10-12 hours (much shorter           thyroid medication...and the results were
                                                                                                 http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-
than in humans).3 Thus, about half of the        far beyond what we hoped for. Within six        angels.com/ThyroidDisease.htm
hormone is used and eliminated from the          weeks Brooke was bounding through the
body within 12 hours, so twice daily dosing      yard happily chasing balls with her foster
provides the most consistent results.            family. The crankiness went away, her coat            Gold Ribbon Rescue
Dogs on thyroid therapy should be                and attitude improved, muscle function
monitored with complete panels on a              began to rebuild in her hips and those eyes
                                                                                                             PO Box 956
regular basis (every 6-12 months).3              were brighter than ever. Today, at 6½, she            Austin, TX 78767-0956
                                                 romps on the beach and has a wonderful            Contact us—
                                                 life with her loving Dad.
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