I’ve been sitting on this story for a while because I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell it PROPERLY. This is a true story and sadly, one that I think happens more often than we think!
At the same time, I want to be clear, I am not a vet. I think vets are a VERY important group of people who compassionately do their very best to care for our beloved pets. Issues can arise though, because this is such a difficult field. Think about it, our human doctors take care of one species where as our vets have to be knowledgeable about multiple species who can’t talk! There are so many amazing vets and I want this remembered! Also, we’re all human beings, we do make mistakes and when mistakes happen, I always look at the intent that was involved.
This blog will point out the errors, significant errors, which almost ended up euthanizing a two year old dog. I don’t blame the vet because as I said above, they have one heck of a difficult job! I share this story with you, NOT to put down vets or this vet, but in hope that you might learn and thus become a stronger advocate for your dog and a stronger team with your vet. YOU KNOW YOUR DOG. Again, I do believe that the INTENT of this vet was to do no harm, but this should be a teaching moment for anyone reading.
Lastly, many, many messages transpired between Phyllis and me during this unfolding story. Where I mention specific dosages here, please know that I gave Phyllis the tools to reach her own decisions on appropriate dosages. These tools were other traditional vets, Homeopathic vets, information and supporting literature from certified vets. Any dosages that Phyllis changed had complete support from a certified vet, just not her normal vet. Be clear on that!
It all started June 6, 2020 with a message in Facebook… “Hi Karen, my Doberman is attacking my Golden Retriever Service dog, Carly and I’m not sure what to do about it… My Golden won’t back down and I’m really afraid my Doberman is going to kill my 10 year old Golden.”
Husband and wife are seniors but the only two humans in the house.
Carly: Golden Retriever, spayed, hypothyroid, 10 years old – service dog. Suffers from Hip Dysplasia, Kidney Disease and had a bad case of bloat in early April 2020.
Peaches: Doberman, spayed at 9-12 months, 2 years old.
Abby: Golden Retriever, spayed, 3 years old (training to replace Carly as a service dog for Phyllis).
After some chatting back and forth, I highly recommended that the Doberman be tested for Hypothyroidism due to my own experience with dogs/aggression and Hypothyroidism.
In the background, Phyllis was seeking help from her regular vet whom she’d been seeing regularly for years, behaviorists as well as social media. “Same Sex Aggression” was being tossed around, lack of training, possibly even that because Carly was ill that Peaches was getting rid of her in a dog pack scenario.
I sent the PROPER full panel test to Phyllis to insure that the vet took things seriously and went beyond doing just an in-house T4 test.
On June 9th, Phyllis and Peaches went to the vet for the blood draw. Later that day, Phyllis messaged me to say that the results would be back in ten days, to which I replied that she obviously needs to keep Peaches separate from everyone in the household as she is currently a dangerous dog. Where dog aggression exists, one must assume it can escalate to human aggression as well for safety sake.
Because all the dog fights happened between Peaches and Carly, Phyllis did keep them separate but continued to allow Peaches to play with Abby as they always got along. Sadly on June 10th, Phyllis reported that Peaches attacked Abby.
June 11th: While waiting for results, vet recommended that Phyllis take Peaches to a doctor that specialized in aggression.
June 15th: Peaches again went after Carly while wearing a muzzle. The elderly husband got involved and in the dog fight and gets knocked over, fortunately only hurting his pride. A behaviorist was contacted and a consultation arranged for July 22.
Later that evening, the test results came back and yes, Peaches IS hypothyroid! Peaches weighs 70lbs and the vet recommended a dosage of .7mg of Thyroxine, 2x/day, 12 hours apart. Based on my own personal experience as well as the wise words of Dr. Dodds – this is almost DOUBLE what Peaches should be started on! Phyllis mentioned to me at this time that she contacted me since she had read my original book “Heart Dog – Gunner’s Story” over a year ago which tells the story of our Gunner becoming aggressive and that aggression subsiding when finally diagnosed with Hypothyroidism.
I recommend Phyllis call her vet and lower the dosage for Peaches. As Dr. Dodds book says, to a dosage of .4mg, 2x/day would be wiser. Phyllis contacted her vet and sadly, her vet would not lower the dose. I again said that I’m not a vet but highly recommended against giving anything more than .4mg to start and to contact another vet immediately. Phyllis reaches out to her Holistic vet. With advice from me, Phyllis, the Holistic vet and Phyllis’s husband, they make the decision to start Peaches on half of the .7mg pill – so .35mg, 2x/day to be adjusted up if need be.
Phyllis at this time told me that her vet recommended euthanasia for Peaches. Again, Peaches is a 2 year old Doberman.
As we signed off messaging for the day, I recommended that Peaches be quarantined from all the other dogs as we didn‘t know for sure that Hypothyroidism was in fact causing the aggression.
June 16th: The Holistic vet agreed with me and gave Peaches a prescription for .4mg, 2x/day. This Holistic vet is very aware of Dr. Dodds, her intensive research on Canine Hypothyroidism and completely agreed that the original dosage was too high. Phyllis canceled the behaviorist appointment and waited for the thyroid meds to “kick in”.
June 18th: In a message, Phyllis mentioned that Peaches has had many episodes of foul gas and her kennel blankets had a weird nasty smell to them. Now, on the thyroid meds, those issues seem to have stopped. Also, her poop was not runny anymore.
June 20th: The behaviorist was rescheduled to July 23rd but after rethinking, Phyllis rescheduled to sometime in mid to late August.
June 25th: In casual messaging, Phyllis mentioned that Carly, the senior Golden is also hypothyroid. In the chaos I had forgotten this fact.
July 3rd: Phyllis mentioned that she’s having dosing issues as she was also giving Peaches other medications. This included tranquilizers, sedatives, Benadryl, corn silk as well as pumpkin seed oil. The sedatives were given at night to make Peaches sleep. Please note – these had been vet prescribed.
July 7th: Phyllis was very content with the positive progression with Peaches. Peaches was for the most part, kept separated from the other dogs but Phyllis was starting re-introductions of short times with Abby to insure positive success.
July 10th: Phyllis continued to give me positive updates but for whatever reason Carly being hypothyroid sparked something in my head! I messaged “Retrievers are typically happy dogs. She’s hypothyroid correct? What dose is she on? You’re following the same protocol with her?”
The response STUNS me! Phyllis replied: “Yes Carly is hypothyroid, was diagnosed at around a year and a half old. Carly gets .8mg at nighttime with her food. She doesn’t eat well in the morning so she gets 2 and a ½ pills at 3:30pm.”
For the record 2.5 x .8mg = 2.0mg! I told her immediately, and even panicked that Carly was on WAY TOO high a dose and should be on the same regimen as Peaches i.e. equal dosing, 12 hours apart and without food. Phyllis immediately called her vet. Phyllis said that Carly had been tested at this high dosage and was always told “she’s fine”. I was now wondering if the story had changed. Was Carly attacking Peaches due to being on too high a dosage and going out of her mind? Carly was on a dose more than two times the amount she should be for most of her life!
July 11th, the vet refused to drop Carly’s med level based on her tests showing she’s “fine” where she is. Phyllis decided on her own that because Peaches is doing so well at .4mg that she will give Carly half pills and follow the same regimen as Peaches was on. Phyllis said Carly has been panting constantly for a long time. The vet again confirmed with Phyllis that she wanted Carly on 2.0mg as a dosage but now said that Carly should get 1.2mg in the morning and .8mg in the evening. Phyllis started doing her own research and said that some of the symptoms of over dosing of thyroid medication are not eating, itchiness, skin issues and panting. Phyllis said Carly has had all of these for the last year. Her vet had been aware of this.
July 12th: Phyllis emailed Dr. Dodds with the Carly situation and Dr. Dodds replied that Carly needs to be dropped immediately to .4mg, 2x/day. Phyllis said overnight, Carly has stopped panting so much. Phyllis said Carly had a complete geriatric wellness panel done by her vet specifically because the constant panting was concerning Phyllis. Phyllis was informed that the results from that were “fine”. Carly’s appetite is also way better now!
July 13th: Carly attacked Abby.
July 15th: Carly attacked a handyman who’s doing work on their deck and she knew the man.
Peaches and Abby were getting along well – no issues. Had Carly been the issue all along?!?
July 23rd: Phyllis wanted to get Peaches off the tranquilizers but this had to be gradual. The behaviorist that was involved in discussions feels that the “cocktail” prescribed to Peaches is causing her brain to race and doing more harm than good. Both Peaches and Carly were set to have full panel thyroid tests done but unbeknownst to the vet, Phyllis had very much reduced their dosage based on the Holistic vet and Dr. Dodds. Her regular vet drew the blood and sent directly to Dr. Dodds lab for results. Carly will have a full panel thyroid test after being on her new dosage for 5 weeks.
· Peaches was prescribed .7mg, 2x/day and was REDUCED to .4mg, 2x/day
· Carly was prescribed a total of 2.0mg for the day and was reduced to .4mg, 2x/day
August 3rd: Peaches results came back from Dr. Dodds and she felt that she was a little high but said to leave Peaches at .4mg, 2x/day. Phyllis gave her original vet the results and she was shocked. In the meantime – all the dogs are doing very well together and Phyllis said she was feeling a lot better – the whole mood in the house felt like “harmony”.
August 21: Abby underwent surgery for lumps in her chest that the vet felt were cancer. Vet said they’re “abnormal” and she sent them away for testing but it “didn’t look good”. Of course, Phyllis was devastated and scared. Abby made it through the surgery but had complications with bleeding and so forth.
August 28th: Vet reported they were just fatty tumors.
September 3rd: Carly’s results came back and guess what? Dr. Dodds said she’s perfect. Phyllis forwarded the results to her original vet and again she’s “shocked”.
September 5th: Original vet prescribed .4mg, 2x/day for both Peaches and Carly. Phyllis messaged: “Karen, the look on my vets face was priceless!!! She’ll never make that mistake again.”
September 20th: Phyllis checked in via messenger that everyone is doing well!
September 25th: Everything hit home for Phyllis. She almost euthanized Peaches by vet recommendation when in fact it is believed that Carly was the instigator due to being over medicated for Hypothyroidism. Peaches reacted due to not being diagnosed for Hypothyroidism and actually put on a “cocktail” of tranquilizers.
October 18th: Due to the fatty lumps Abby had surgically removed and her young age, Dr. Dodds suggested that Phyllis have a full panel thyroid test done on her as well. The results came back days later and yes, Abby is also hypothyroid. Dr. Dodds prescribed .6mg, 2x/day for Abby.
October 25th: Sadly, Carly passed away due to a tumor on her spleen that ruptured.
November 12th: Phyllis messaged that she’s so thankful that Carly’s last few months were peaceful but questions, after reading about Hypothyroidism and specifically being on too high a dose, whether it may have contributed to her demise. Phyllis also questions if it may be related to the bloat episode she had in early 2020 while on a total of 2.0mg per day.
Question becomes – do you?
I stay in contact with Phyllis and she still feels the pain of losing Carly, we as dog lovers know the feeling too well. Sadly, Phyllis carries guilt about not knowing enough, soon enough, about Hypothyroidism. This is her “share” and their story.
Please help honor Abby, Peaches and especially Carly and learn from them. In my mind, Carly is STILL the dedicated service dog, by teaching others even now as she waits at the bridge.
As of today, December 7th, Phyllis reports that Abby and Peaches are doing very well. Sadly, Abby still looks for Carly.
If you have questions concerning Hypothyroidism, please consider picking up my latest book “By the Numbers” which covers what I call the “Seven Steps to Success” of Hypothyroidism. It’s a different kind of book, written in common speak. Many people contributed their stories, their gorgeous dog pictures make it a humor filled learning tool that covers all the crucial information about Canine Hypothyroidism. We don’t use fancy words, we just share the knowledge. Our hopes are that other people never have the guilt of not knowing enough, soon enough. All information found in this book can be verified by a certified vet.
Lastly, don’t ever be afraid to ask questions. To research, do your due diligence and raise questions with your vet is truly to advocate for your dog!
Thank you for reading!
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Also, should you have questions regarding Hypothyroidism - please consider my recently published:
All ages, all dogs – see the faces
Recognize ALL the symptoms
Why “low” normal is NOT “normal”
Sharing stories / Interview with Dr. Jean Dodds (26 of the most popular questions answered!)