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Riley had his annual check up on Thursday. Lab results came back today and I knew they would say he has hypothyroidism. Last year his results were low normal (.9 on a scale of .8 – 3.5 being normal). His results were .7 this year.

He is not alone as 1 in every 4 golden retrievers has hypothyroidism.

How did I know Riley had it?

He continued to gain weight even though his exercise levels were the same and the amount of food he ate was reduced.

His thick coat also thinned.

Your dog’s thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped organ in his neck, with one lobe on each side of his trachea.

There are two ways your pup can end up with hypothyroidism. In its pure form hypothyroidism is usually an immune system disorder also known as autoimmune thyroiditis, it means his body is attacking the tissues of his thyroid gland.

In response to this attack, the thyroid will first try to compensate by producing greater and greater amounts of the thyroid hormone thyroxine. But after awhile, the gland becomes depleted. It’s at this point your dog develops symptoms of the disorder and is diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

The other way your dog can end up hypothyroid is her body simply produces less thyroid hormone over time, and eventually she does not produce enough for normal biological processes.

Thyroxine is an extremely important hormone in your dog’s body. It plays a significant role in bodily functions such as food metabolism, growth and development, oxygen consumption, reproduction and resistance to infection.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

If your dog has hypothyroidism, she’ll have at least some and often several of the following symptoms:

Depression; also significant behavioral changes like aggression, head tilting, anxiety, compulsiveness, seizures

Lack of energy – frequent napping, exercise intolerance, lack of interest in physical activity and play

Weight gain without an increase in appetite

Low tolerance for the cold; slow heart rate

Skin changes – dryness, hair loss, discoloration or thickening, bacterial infections

Chronic infections, including ears, skin

Will My Dog Develop This Condition?

The disorder is relatively rare in miniature and toy breeds, and is more common in medium to large size dogs.

Male and female dogs acquire hypothyroidism at about the same rate, but spayed females are more prone to the disorder than unspayed females.

Several breeds are genetically predisposed to the disorder, including:

Airedale terriers
Cocker spaniels
Doberman pinschers
Golden and Labrador retrievers
Irish setters

Other potential causes of hypothyroidism include:

Some medications, in particular corticosteroids, can bring on hypothyroidism
Lack of exercise can also play a role in reducing the production of thyroid hormone
If your dog is exposed to a lot of toxins, including vaccinations, it can increase her risk of developing hypothyroidism
Most dogs develop hypothyroidism between the ages of 4 and 10.

Diagnosis and Treatment

There are a number of ways to measure the thyroid health of your pup through blood tests with ‘T’ names like free T3, free T4, T3, T4, AAT3, AAT4 and TSH.

If your dog is diagnosed with autoimmune thyroiditis — confirmed by elevated AAT3 and AAT4 levels — unfortunately, in most cases you’ll need to start your pet on a synthetic thyroid pill and she’ll be on it for the rest of her life.

Usually by the time your pet has enough auto-antibodies to be measured on a blood test there has been irreparable thyroid damage and synthetic hormone replacement is almost always inevitable.

However, if there’s no autoimmune disorder present, my recommendation is to try stimulating remaining thyroid tissue to begin working again. If your dog’s thyroid glands have taken early retirement — confirmed by low thyroid levels on blood work — it’s possible the thyroid can be regenerated using a more natural form of thyroid replacement.

This option is what we did for our Madeline last year and it worked, so we will try this with Riley. If the Chinese herbs don’t work, then we’ll go to the inexpensive thyroid replacement drug.

May 12, 2018   No Comments

Dora and Doug

Doug was adopted by Brenda and Chuck L in 2012 as a crazy young golden and Dora was adopted a bit later to be a playmate after Eli, their resident golden died of cancer….the scourge of Golden Retrievers.

Here they are watching TV together.

May 12, 2018   1 Comment