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Canine people - my rant for the day....

I’m so damn mad! I swear I have lived my life trying to do “right” by all my dogs and it seems like every time I do research, I learn more and more how I’ve failed by trusting the “professionals”, the leading drug companies, the leading dog food companies, the leading “canine specialists”.

I’m not mad at them, I’m mad at me because it keeps happening. I’m not saying don’t trust them, I’m saying we can’t expect someone who’s seen our dog for 20 minutes to know what’s truly going on inside our dogs. The responsibility is on us, we know our dogs.

My apologies in advance because I think this blog may very well end up being a rant.

Over the weekend I had occasion to run into Winnipeg to a very high quality pet food and treat company where I pick up our dog food. As is custom, Liar and Blaze enjoyed their “car-riding” with me and anxiously waited in the truck for me to bring back the “bags of loot”. While I was in the store, I shopped looking for any new “latest and greatest” items. I snooped around their canine supplements, looked at their shelves of healthy treats and their variety of bones waiting for something to catch my eye and sure enough, something did. In among some really good looking bones was a box of very common and popular dog treats that comes naturally from bulls. Beside that was a box of dried trachea. They were cheap, I could buy in bulk and they too are “natural” – healthy right?

Then my memory clicked, I had recently watched a video interview of Dr. Dodds talking about raw feeding and treats. She voiced concern in particular about people feeding their canines anything that contained neck as it MAY consist of “glandular product”. I asked the owner of the store for the “ingredients” in the trachea and they said “trachea”. I know these people really well, I know these people adore their dogs and their clients dogs – I say this as, I know they have pure hearts and would never knowingly hurt animals. I told them about the video and asked if this trachea contained glandular products and they didn’t know. Further to that, they had no idea how to find out as that product came in bulk with no ingredient list but they would investigate. This of course led to the conversation of hypothyroidism becoming rampant in ALL DOGS and I mentioned to them that if those trachea contain glandular material, then in essence, that "treat" could also be contributing to hypothyroidism.

What causes Hypothyroidism? The more I read the more I get mad because in essence A LOT and pretty much everything!!! I feel (not being a vet or scientist) that genetics has a minimal contribution to the “cause” when you look at the big picture. This is what I’ve gathered as “causes” in no particular order :

1) Puppy play (biting each other’s necks can damage the thyroid) before they even go home with their new owners.

2) Any form of collar on a dogs neck whether it’s a Martingale, choke, Pinch, dead or just regular collar that sits on the area of the neck. If the dog is “pulling” and pressure is applied to the thyroid gland (which is located in the neck) this can damage the thyroid gland.

3) Neck trauma, one bad bite may damage the thyroid. A bad twist or injury. A strong lunge after a squirrel while wearing a collar.

4) Cancer of the thyroid gland.

5) Foods or treats that contain neck with “glandular products”. If you feed raw – do you feed necks from other animals?

6) Stress (physical and/or emotional). This “stress” may be consisting of : leaving the litter mates, new homes, being in shelters or kennel facilities, new foods, general illness, shows, training, adding dogs or children to the family – anything that your dog feels stressful.

7) Early spay or neutering before two years old.

8) Various chemicals in medications, flea and tick products, heart worm drugs and vaccinations. Just recently I read up on a popular canine joint supplement “possibly” containing glandular products and the listed “possible” side effects are signs and symptoms of HyPERthyroidism and HyPOthyroidism. So here you are adding supplements to your dog to make them feel better and in the meantime possibly causing illness.

9) Hereditary

10) … Life?!?

So basically what I’m telling you is this, given all the above, it’s very likely at some point in your dog’s life, he or she will start suffering from hypothyroidism no matter where you get your dog from or what breed your dog is. Your dog has played, your dog has probably worn collars, your dog has eaten and been given treats, vaccinated, medicated and at some point your dog has even dealt with illness, surgeries or stress. Therefore, your dog may be at risk.

My recommendation : Face facts, your dog may have or get hypothyroidism so test! This may be me sounding as an alarmist but test on your first vet visit and every year after so you can witness the changes in your dog’s thyroid performance! Don’t just get a basic T4 test (usually around $70), it’s proven that this may show everything is “fine” when clearly it’s not. Instead, make sure you get a complete thyroid antibody profile, measuring at least T3, T4, Free T3, Free T4, and TgAA. If your vet doesn’t or won't offer a full thyroid profile, ask him/her to draw the blood for you and send it yourself to Hemopet or another lab that offers this testing. A full panel thyroid can range anywhere from $200.00 to $400.00 . Best case scenario, you find out your dog is in awesome condition and maybe you feel you just wasted money but remember that these results are giving you a healthy “base line”. When you run that test again, you’ve got those results to compare to and you, yourself can witness if there has been change. Keep a copy of your results and examine them yourselves.

At the end of the day, if your dog’s thyroid is not functioning properly, you’re damaging your dog and it’s only going to get worse which explains why TYPICALLY this disease is only noticed at 5 years or older by the “classic” symptoms of poor coat, lethargy and excessive weight. By the time THAT is noticed, your dog’s thyroid has been 70% damaged and I’m quite sure that didn’t happen overnight!

“Dog People” : Don’t believe everything I say, I’m not a vet, just someone who’s had three dogs, showing all different “signs” and all proven to have hypothyroidism. Sadly, after reviewing my canine history, I know for a fact I had many other dogs that were also hypothyroid and sadly never diagnosed or treated simply because “I didn’t know”.

Reputable Breeders : I have no doubt you love your breed! You breed because you want to carry on the heritage, diversity and predictability of your breed of choice and personally, I find that noble and honerable . You medically test, you study, and you make choices with the sole intention of furthering your breed. Your puppy people need to know.

Reputable Rescues : You have an even bigger task as you may not know the history or background of your dogs and quite likely will have more canines come through your doors then a breeder ever will. Teach all your foster people and new furever people!

Please take the lead on this! Share this information! This is one of the highest mis-diagnosed AND THEN incorrectly treated canine diseases going and we need to educate all “dog people” because all of our canines have value.

You want to know what my dream is? To win a million dollars, and pick piles of random people from face book and have their dogs tested. I think the findings would scare the crap out of us all…

In the meantime, I’m going to run the continued risk of me being the “crazy hypothyroid lady” and keep trying to spread this information. We need to get people to talk about it as it’s affecting our beloved pets. Please get rid of the “stigma” attached to this disease! Stop the shame of “having a hypothyroid dog” and start celebrating the fact that you noticed the subtle changes and got diagnosed quickly before too much damage was done.

Share the story - it could save a life!

Karen Grzenda

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