Wow! What an honor!
If you’ve read my book “Heart Dog – Gunner’s Story”, then you know of the near death struggle I had with Gunner and finally getting the diagnosis of Hypothyroidism. You’ll also understand why I’m such a huge advocate for trying to “spread the knowledge” about Hypothyroidism.
Simply put, by you taking the time to read this and then share it, you COULD save a life! Don’t take that statement lightly!
In a world where we have instant information at our fingertips, available to us 24/7, we can see so much death, destruction, hate – we can feel lost and without power. It truly can become overwhelming. Or we can choose to try to help. Sharing this, may help. Sharing this could save a life.
I’ve been trying to “help” when I see people with dogs who aren’t well. When I see signs or symptoms of Hypothyroidism, I have tried to share information to assist. I do this because I spent thousands of dollars on our beloved Gunner who got sicker and sicker as the days went by, to the point where I almost euthanized him. Once Gunner was diagnosed, under vet prescribed medication, I incorrectly gave him too high a dose for many years until he succumbed to DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy) at only 7 years old. If I knew then what I knew now.... Don`t be me! Learn now!
So, this blog may seem so irrelevant to you but by sharing, you MAY save someone and their beloved pet from the same situation Tim and I went through. I know many are currently going through the same thing, the same fight, same frustration we did and pray this blog reaches them.
A few months ago, I set up my website and a blog of “dog information”. I’ve been working diligently to try to provide resources for people in need. Many of these blogs have been focused specifically on "Hypothyroidism in Canines" because it has had such a huge impact in our lives. I wanted a real quick Q&A that was short and to the point, something that I could share covering the “biggies” about Hypothyroidism as it is life changing and yet so commonly misdiagnosed. This way, I could quickly “share” the blog for those in need.
Also, I’m not a vet and have never claimed to be but found that when I was “helping” someone whose vet had incorrectly tested, misdiagnosed or when diagnosed, prescribed the incorrect amount of a medication, I wasn’t taken seriously. Why? Because I’M NOT A VET. Well now, here`s the answers from a VET - please use this to discuss with YOUR vet.
A few weeks ago I decided to ask THE vet who is my “go to” on Hypothyroidism. I wrote Dr. Dodds of Hemopet (based out of California, USA) and asked if I could interview her and she answered almost immediately from Venice, Italy. I then posted on Facebook asking people if they had questions as well to ask.
Yesterday, I sent those questions to Dr. Dodds and within hours she responded! Please find below, our correspondence. I have not “edited” this to keep its integrity and I did request that Dr. Dodds answer briefly to save time for her. Please find my words in normal fonts and hers in this colour. After the interview, I will post her link and contact information.
If this interview has raised MORE questions for you, please check my Hypothyroidism blog (links below) as I have other “informative blogs”. If you still can't find the answer, contact me directly, I will try to help you find it!
Dear Karen: Hi! Off to Milan for a doggie ‘expo’ fund raiser tomorrow morning - so answering now! Hugs, Jean
1) In layman`s terms – what is hypothyroidism? ”hypo” means ”low”, so hypothyroidism means low thyroid function.
2) What is the test I should get to see if my dog is hypothyroid? Always a full thyroid profile not just a total T4. What should it include? Total T4, free T4, Total T3, free T3 and TgAA (thyroglobulin autoantibody) tested annually.
3) Why is getting a thyroid full panel result analyzed from Hemopet different than other labs? Because we automatically provide the age – and breed type - specific normal ranges as well as the general normal ranges for all dogs. Also, our thyroid testing is patented worldwide, and does not use any radioisotopes that can leach into and contaminate the earth.
4) If we get our dogs tests done in a different lab, can we fax (or e-mail) the results to Hemopet for their analyzation and input? Sure! Cost? A small donation to Hemopet is always appreciated, but not required.
5) Why do vets typically do a T4 test if its inconclusive or inaccurate? Often because they are uninformed or ‘sold’ on it for ease of testing and cheaper price - the educational void is huge! Also, they often expect to see the classical clinical signs of more advanced hypothyroidism (fat, lazy and hates the cold) rather than diagnose the earlier phase of subtle weight gain, poor skin and coat, and abnormal behavior (young adult onset of phobias, aggression, seizures)! Sigh!
6) Is this a “breed” thing? No , but certain breeds have a higher risk than others. Or can all dogs have hypothyroidism? Yes
7) What causes hypothyroidism? Progressive destruction of thyroid tissue by heritable autoimmune thyroiditis (inflammation of the gland by immune-targeted lymphocytes) or just gradual idiopathic thyroid atrophy.
8) I have read that there are over 70 signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, how many signs or symptoms should I see in my dog before I get a full panel done? Ha! Even one obvious one is enough. See answer to question 5)
9) What’s the youngest dog you’ve seen be hypothyroid? 4-5 months. Is testing different for puppies? No, but the reference norms are different (should be higher as the puppy is still growing and maturing through adolescence. Can a puppy be born with hypothyroidism? Yes, but it’s very rare.
10) If my dog’s test comes back “Low normal” but is showing symptoms, should I still treat with thyroid supplementation? Depends upon the individual case – a 6-8 week clinical trial of twice daily thyroxine can be tried.
11) Someone suggested I put my dog on thyroid medication for a few months because they were “borderline” and said if it didn’t work out, I could stop giving the meds. Is this true? Yes, as the thyroid gland should return to its original capacity (whatever that was) in 6 weeks. Or will giving thyroid meds and stopping hurt my dog? No.
12) What will happen if my dog is hypothyroid and I don’t give them thyroid supplementation? Unwise = progressive health breakdown , including behavioral changes.
13) I think my dog may be getting too much thyroid supplementation, what is the correct thyroid supplementation dosage and is it the same for all breeds and ages? Not the same for all breed and ages – puppies usually require more than adults and more than geriatrics; geriatrics require less; small breeds require more than large and giant breeds; and sighthounds require less than other breed types. Typical medium sized adult dog takes 0. 1 mg thyroxine per 12-15 pounds of optimum weight given twice daily apart from foods or treats that contain calcium or soy to ensure absorption.
14) My vet said it doesn’t matter if I give the pills with or without food as long as I’m consistent (sorry – that’s just incorrect) but I notice you advise to give pills either 1 hour before food or 3 hours after, why? Because the drug, thyroxine , binds to calcium and soy which delays and impairs it’s absorption.
15) Can hypothyroidism cause DCM if left untreated or if dosage has been too high? Either situation can affect cardiac function.
16) I want to breed my bitch and all health testing required has been done on both the female and male. Both my female and the male chosen have been shown in venues and are excellent examples of the breed. My female is on supplementation though for having a “low normal” thyroid. Does this mean all her puppies will have hypothyroidism? No; typically 50/50 with a large number of such offspring , but in any one litter the odds are unpredictable. Should I still breed her? Only if she was TgAA negative before she started taking the thyroxine.
17) My dog was diagnosed as low thyroid and put on supplementation, we retested but the “numbers” don’t look so good, yet my dog is doing fabulous! Should I stay where we are or try a different med level? Stay where you are - treat the patient not the lab numbers. Also, it depends upon what tests were done after he/she started the medication and if the testing was done at 4-6 hrs post-pill (the peak therapeutic response timing)?
18) My dog has been on thyroid supplementation for a few years now and his/her test results of the full panel look great but there still seems to be symptoms. They’re way better than they were but still there. Why? Maybe some other non-thyroidal issue has arisen.
19) I feed a raw diet that includes necks, and sometimes I buy Esophagus as a treat, I heard this can cause problems in dogs why? It’s the throat or gullet part of a red raw meat carcass that contains the thyroid gland which can cause dietary-induced hyperthyroidism when eaten.
20) Are there ANY foods, treats or natural supplements that I should stay away from if my dog is on thyroid medication? Human medication states no calcium or iron within four hours of meds. Is this different for dogs? No; the same (plus soy) as it reflects the behavior of the drug (hormone) and not the species that takes it.
21) I have a German Shepherd who was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy (DM) and recently also hypothyroidism. He’s been on thyroid meds for a month now and his DM is better! Does that mean he doesn’t have DM? Possibly, but more likely the clinical signs from the muscle weakness of DM are partially lessened by stimulating his cellular metabolism with the thyroxine.
22) My Doberman was diagnosed with Wobbler’s a