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post #1 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
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Ivan is Hypothyroid

I just got the call from my vet confirming Ivan is Hypothyroid. Ivan is 1 yr. and 3 months old.

I would say the symptom that first caught my attention was his thinning coat on his back legs/neck and dander with some itching. Of course this all started around the TOTW recall, so I chalked it up to that.

At some point, I can't be certain of when, he also became snappy and fearful with some dogs. As a pup, he had loved other dogs. I attributed this to his maturing and being a male Doberman.

I also noticed other behavior issues. Very fearful of strangers. He was fearful as a puppy. I had thought we had "fixed" this issue, but since it was happening again I thought it was just something that needed continued attention.

Then I noticed he would growl at some people. Again I thought this might be stemming from his fear and maturing and now, instead of ducking and running, he was trying to intimidate people he was afraid of. This did not happen with all people or in all situations, so I wasn't sure what to make of the whole thing. Just did more socializing, etc.

A couple of months passed and I noticed the hair on his sides was thinning. (He's a black Doberman! Surely his coat can't be this thin?!) Then I noticed it was thin on his back.

So I took him to the vet again to have a full thryoid. (First time I just went in and asked about thinning and scratching. They thought allergies.) There was one woman in the lobby with no dog, sunglasses, hat, etc. and Ivan stared and growled at her. I couldn't come up with any plausible "excuse" this time. (Not that I was "accepting" of his behavior, but that he had a "reason" for doing it.) But it sure sounded like thryroid behavioral agression being in an unfamiliar setting with an unfamiliar stranger. I began hoping Ivan had thryoid issues.

I'll be picking up his prescription and a copy of his test results tonight. I am hopeful once he is medicated properly some of his issues will dissippate. I'll have to post follow-ups in this thread.

I'm not posting really looking for advice at this point, but thought I'd put it out there as an example for anyone else in a similar situation.


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post #2 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 01:54 PM
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Sorry to hear about Ivan, but at least he's been diagnosed and you can now work on sorting it out. All the best for you both



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post #3 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 04:30 PM
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Well wishes for you and Ivan. At least he has an issue that can be medicated. I hope the meds help to even him out a little bit.

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post #4 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 04:51 PM
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Q is too. He's been on Levotabs for a while now and seems to be doing well.
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post #5 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 08:46 PM
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Best wishes for Ivan. I'm sure you'll see some improvement after he's been on meds for a while. It took a few months for us to see Indy's issues resolve (sleeping all the time, some dog aggression) as we worked to get the dosage right.

The biggest improvement is his attitude towards aggressive or excitable dogs. Tonight, two dogs in a yard we walked by rushed at the fence barking and growling. Before the Soloxine, Indy would have rushed back and growled but he walked right with me focused and calm as I said "leave it". I was so proud of him!


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post #6 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 09:15 PM
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Would you mind posting photos of his coat? I am interested to see what this looks like. I've also noticed Hans' coat seems thin in some areas.

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post #7 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 09:01 AM Thread Starter
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Another possible symptom Ivan showed is exercise intolerance. When he'd lay down before his BFF when they were playing, which he never did over the winter, I attributed it to heat intolerance. And when he'd lay down after a training run at SAR, which none of the Labs or GSDs did, I once again attributed it to the heat. I'm sure the heat didn't help, but maybe his real problem was exercise intolerance.

Here are a couple of pictures of Ivan's coat. Keep in mind that from two feet away no one thought he had a thin coat. And even if I looked directly down on his back, if the lighting wasn't right, I couldn't even really spot the thin coat myself. It was much easier to notice if you looked up the length of his back - tail to neck - then directly down on it.

Make sure to click to see at least the first image full size as it's clearer and easier to definitely see his skin.









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post #8 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 02:06 PM
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Wow! Thanks for the pics! This looks so much like Viktors coat! I also have been treating him for Staph and allergies. I am taking him tomorrow for his thyroid test, it is also affordable to get. I just called my vet after seeing this. I will let you know what the vet says.
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post #9 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 02:11 PM
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Thanks so much for the photos, I'm thinking a thyroid test is definitely in order for Mabel at the vet tomorrow...her coat looks exactly the same as well as a few other symptoms.

Hugs to ivan and glad to hear he'll be back to his old self soon.

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post #10 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
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I had the Thyroid Profile 5 test from Hemopet performed.

Here are his test results.



As you can see he fell within the low-normal side of the general range, but when his breed, age, and sex were taken into account, he was below normal.


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post #11 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 02:53 PM
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I'd be cautious in attributing his anxiety and behavioral stuff solely to thyroid function. Are you working on that stuff separately? What techniques do you use?


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post #12 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 03:08 PM Thread Starter
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I am not attributing it solely to thyroid function, but you can bet I'm hoping it's a big part of it. How I handle it depends on the situation and what tools I have available to me. Sometimes it's just a leash correction and leave it. Sometimes it's getting him to focus on me and obedience commands using treats. Sometimes it's socialization where we go up to anyone he's not actively reacting to and having them give him treats. The last time we went to the local shopping area and worked on it he was great. Almost like a Lab soliciting attention from people.


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post #13 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 03:11 PM
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I am not attributing it sole to thyroid function, but you can bet I'm hoping it's a big part of it. How I handle it depends on the situation and what tools I have available to me. Sometimes it's just a leash correction and leave it. Sometimes it's getting him to focus on me and obedience commands using treats. Sometimes it's socialization where we go up to anyone he's not actively reacting to and having them give him treats. The last time we went to the local shopping area and worked on it he was great. Almost like a Lab soliciting attention from people.
Well, according to my veterinary behaviorist, low thyroid has little effect on anxiety and aggression, despite the popular belief that it does. Since it's her area of specialty I give a lot of weight to what she says.

Corrections nearly always make reactivity worse. You often see a brief decrease followed by significantly worse behavior. You might want to pick up a copy of Leslie McDevitt's book, "Control Unleashed" for an alternative method that's proven to be really, really affective with anxiety and reactivity. Just my two cents, after living with and working with a highly reactive dog for nearly four years.


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post #14 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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My information was mainly from Dr. Jean Dobbs at Hemopet and studies she has done.

Ex. DODDS-BEHV-THYROID

I have no idea who your behaviorist is, so I can't comment, but if you have any studies she's done or that I could reference I'd appreciate it in case Ivan's behavior continues as is.

I already have a copy of Control Unleashed. I did look for a Control Unleashed course near me, but was not able to find anything.

I am not all for or all against any method of training. I'm going to use what I find works best for me and my dog - and perhaps that has yet to be determined.


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post #15 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 08:22 PM
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Thanks for posting the photos. Hans' hair loss is very similar, and he is bare on his belly. When you went to your vet, did you specifically ask for the Thyroid Profile 5 test?

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post #16 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 08:32 PM Thread Starter
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So far this is the only thing I can find not supporting a connection.

http://www.ncanewfs.org/health/pdfs/thyroidarticle.pdf

It talks about there only being a handful of cases in literature and all but one being an intact male. It goes on to state that he responded to thyroid meds., but then states he was also castrated and went through behavior modification.

I know the Dodds paper I linked to above uses two neutered dogs and one intact female.

I don't know for certain when either was published.

I also talked to another person who said Dodds specialized in this and believed there was a connection, but that the scientific evidence didn't support it nor did behaviorists. I asked her to send me links if she could to the research. She did state there is annecdotal evidence of their being a connection.


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post #17 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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I did ask for it specifically.


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Anecdote does not equal data

It's cool, I just wanted to be sure you weren't relying totally on the thyroid stuff as a reason for the behavioral stuff. I think it's probably more complex than that. For what it's worth, there was zero change in Shanoa's anxiety/reactivity after starting thyroid meds.

Hope Ivan feels better soon. I know what it feels like firsthand to have low thyroid, so I can sympathize!


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The link I just posted references a study done with Tufts showing improvement. Haven't tracked down the actual study.

Interestingly, a collaborative study between Dr. Dodds and Tufts University has shown many dogs experiencing aggression issues, as a symptom of hypothyroidism, show a favorable response to thyroid replacement therapy within the first week of treatment, even when it took about three weeks to correct the metabolic deficit.


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The link I just posted references a study done with Tufts showing improvement. Haven't tracked down the actual study.

Interestingly, a collaborative study between Dr. Dodds and Tufts University has shown many dogs experiencing aggression issues, as a symptom of hypothyroidism, show a favorable response to thyroid replacement therapy within the first week of treatment, even when it took about three weeks to correct the metabolic deficit.
Yep, I've read Dr. Dodds' book. Again, the studies aren't particularly persuasive. But really, it doesn't matter; we can disagree on this. As long as Ivan is getting better, that's what matters.


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I understand you are trying to be helpful. It is good not to have unrealistic expectations setting yourself up for disappointment. I just wish I could find a study showing what the behaviorists are basing their thinking on. The other camp is all over the Internet.


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post #23 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 09:21 PM Thread Starter
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Just out of curiosity - when was she diagnosed hypothyroid? What training methods where you using at the time? (Sounds like you had an abusive trainer at one point.). How old was she when she was first put on Prozac?


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post #24 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 09:27 PM
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Just out of curiosity - when was she diagnosed hypothyroid? What training methods where you using at the time? (Sounds like you had an abusive trainer at one point.). How old was she when she was first put on Prozac?
I'm really, really not trying to derail your thread!

She was diagnosed around June of last year, I think. She had some hair loss on her ears. We've been doing Control Unleashed for quite a while. She's made progress with that since we started, but great progress once we started seeing our veterinary behaviorist. She has been on a few different drugs, and we've finally found a drug combo (plus training) that works.


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post #25 of 61 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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No! This is all good. The point of the thread was to be educational. I just wanted a better perspective regarding your experience. I'm where you were - not sure what I should be expecting, not sure of the best approach, etc. Ivan isn't nearly as bad as it sounds like Shanoa was, but I want to take him the rest of the way with his SAR training and get him certified, so I want to crack this nut, if possible, as soon as possible. So if I need to take another approach, I want to be ready to go with it.


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