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post #1 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 02:49 PM Thread Starter
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Thyroid removal in dogs?

Hey all. It's been a while since I've been here, so I'll quickly bring you up to speed.

I have a neutered male Doberman named Atlas. He will be turning 5 years old in December and we've been struggling with hypothyroidism for about 2 years now. Originally, we thought it was anxiety, but his T3/T4/TSH levels said otherwise. He was on Synthyroid since then, up until I began having some communication breakdown with my vet. No fault of the vet himself, more to the fact I was unable to reach him to renew my poor dog's prescription and I guess my voice mails were being deleted without answer. So now I'm back to step one with my dog, because his aggression has reached a dangerous level with anyone he deems a stranger (which is basically anyone aside from me, my boyfriend and my other dog).

Currently, he is muzzled 100% of the time in public. He has a kennel at my house and my boyfriend's house and goes into it whenever someone comes over since he is 100% not safe with anyone aside from myself or my boyfriend. He is anxious and will randomly bark for no reason, working himself up to a complete frenzy. I turned my doorbell off because he is so noise sensitive and I live in constant fear of someone knocking on my door because that aggravates my poor, sick dog.

I've been told to put him down, but he is a good dog. He is sweet with me and my boyfriend, but he's also sick and I can't fault him for that. It's a big of a struggle to find a vet here in Edmonton who will actually listen to me when I say I want a full thyroid panel test, but I managed to find one and got their last available appointment for this week (tomorrow at 6:40pm). My poor dude will have an exam and a blood test, which will be sent to IDEXX. He'll go back onto Thyroid medicine and we'll see if his mood evens out again. His symptoms include:

- Excessive thirst
- Pacing
- Whining
- Random barking outbursts (from a dead sleep, to barking, to back to sleep)
- Spinning
- Lunging at the door when someone comes to it
- Hair loss on his chest and underside of neck
- Extreme noise sensitivity
- Panic attacks where he will literally spin in circle and scream if he feels anxious
- He's not excessively overweight or underweight... he has the distinct "tuck" in his abdomen, but he is bigger boned. He's pushing 100lbs right now, give or take a pound.
- His coat is soft and glossy, aside from the light hair loss across his chest and neck
- He seems to have issues swallowing sometimes, but that could be because he has a tendency to eat too fast and has learned to inhale his food no matter the method I use - rocks in his bowl, upside down muffin tins, scattered across the floor, etc.

We've done behavioral training as well and since the majority of his issues happen only at my house, it's hard for the trainers to fully pinpoint if part of his issue is a lack of training. He is extremely well trained most of the time, but when someone comes to the door, it's like the thinking part of his brain just shuts off.

So that's where we are. He has his vet appointment tomorrow, but I wanted to ask all you lovely people -- has anyone had their dog's thyroid removed completely? Is that even a thing? I know humans get it done, but is that something worth doing in dogs? Google doesn't return much for information, but I'm curious if that's an option for my dog. I don't want to put him down without exhausting my options, and I definitely don't want to foist his issues on someone else. I've had trainers offer to take him for in-home training, but that doesn't seem like a good option to me because then I can't learn how to deal with his issues.

I really feel like I'm failing him and it's heartbreaking.
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post #2 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 03:21 PM
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The thyroid effects almost every system in the body. If he is hypo/hyper thyroid but isn't being treated - no wonder he is having issues!

My boy is hypo thyroid and I can always tell if we miss a dose / are late in giving his meds on accident (happens once or twice a month if we are out late or something). He is lethargic, doesn't great me at the door, won't engage in play. It really effects his personality. We still struggle finding the correct does as it seems half the time we run blood it's low even on meds and half the time it's normal. Having a suportive vet is so important! Mine works with MSU and they've been great.

I hope they give you the answers you need tomorrow. His aggressition and anxiety seem pretty intense and I have no answers there - but I wish you the best. I can't imagine how hard it is dealing with that.

"stay hungry, stay foolish."
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post #3 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 03:22 PM
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Not sure I’m reading your description of your dog and his treatment til now correctly--but a diagnosis of hypothyroid means that his thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone, or that he could have thyroid antibodies in his system which are destroying the thyroid hormones his thyroid is making. A thyroid removal would take away all the thyroid hormones he can manage to make on his own, thus making him COMPLETELY (so to speak) hypothyroid. If his thyroid were removed, he would need thyroid medication continually, probably at a higher level. If hypothyroidism is his problem, removing his thyroid just wouldn’t work.

Behavioral symptoms of thyroid inadequacy can include sudden aggression, also fear responses (probably due to high cortisol levels in his body, which cause undue stress) which it sounds like your dog has. Of course, hormone problems can be extremely complicated (as can purely behavioral issues due to environment/lack of socialization etc.), so he could have several things going on at once. But if you know he’s hypothyroid (test results) at this point, I would try to get that under control again and see where you stand from there.

Humans generally have their thyroid removed when there is cancer present, which, obviously, you can’t just let stay there. Then they take thyroid hormones to make up what they are missing for the rest of their lives.

Do you have a vet school in your area, or a specialist in endocrine issues? I would head there first for a consult, even if it took a considerable drive. Once you’ve truly established if his hormonal issues are the major problem, your regular vet can work with you (even if he needs to consult with your specialist from time to time) without you having to travel back to your diagnosing vet for treatment.

An article to puzzle your way through could be http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-...e_behavior.htm. It starts talking about thyroid issues about halfway through and is a bit technical, but might give you some reassurance about how extreme dogs behaviors can be when they have a malfunction in their hormone levels.
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post #4 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 03:41 PM
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Thyroid removal in humans (non-cancerous) is usually done as a result of HYPER-thyroidism (e.g. Graves disease or goiters) that doesn't respond to traditional treatment.
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post #5 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CourtneyLynn View Post
Hey all. It's been a while since I've been here, so I'll quickly bring you up to speed.

I have a neutered male Doberman named Atlas. He will be turning 5 years old in December and we've been struggling with hypothyroidism for about 2 years now. Originally, we thought it was anxiety, but his T3/T4/TSH levels said otherwise. He was on Synthyroid since then, up until I began having some communication breakdown with my vet. No fault of the vet himself, more to the fact I was unable to reach him to renew my poor dog's prescription and I guess my voice mails were being deleted without answer. So now I'm back to step one with my dog, because his aggression has reached a dangerous level with anyone he deems a stranger (which is basically anyone aside from me, my boyfriend and my other dog).
Who did the original thyroid testing? Do you have the records? How low was the T4 and did you also have free T4 tested? What were the results and what were the reference ranges for both T4, T4 by ED (aka free T4) and TSH? How much thyroid suppliment was prescribed? How long was he on thyroid suppliment and how long was he off suppliment until you finally got a retest done?

Quote:
Currently, he is muzzled 100% of the time in public. He has a kennel at my house and my boyfriend's house and goes into it whenever someone comes over since he is 100% not safe with anyone aside from myself or my boyfriend. He is anxious and will randomly bark for no reason, working himself up to a complete frenzy. I turned my doorbell off because he is so noise sensitive and I live in constant fear of someone knocking on my door because that aggravates my poor, sick dog.
Even though there is some anecdotal information around that hypothyoid dogs may become anxious and/or aggressive this has not actually been established. There are other issues more likely to cause the kind of anxiety you are talking about.

Quote:
I've been told to put him down, but he is a good dog. He is sweet with me and my boyfriend, but he's also sick and I can't fault him for that. It's a big of a struggle to find a vet here in Edmonton who will actually listen to me when I say I want a full thyroid panel test, but I managed to find one and got their last available appointment for this week (tomorrow at 6:40pm). My poor dude will have an exam and a blood test, which will be sent to IDEXX. He'll go back onto Thyroid medicine and we'll see if his mood evens out again.
If you are actually going to do a full thyroid panel I'd recomend that the blood sample be sent to Michigan State Universty and NOT to IDEXX. MSU has been the gold standard for thyroid panels for many years and specifically what it should include is T4, T3, Free T4 by ED, Free T3. T4 Auto-AB, T3 Auto-AB, TSH, and TgAA . For awhile IDEXX was doing their own TgAA but I recently had a full panel done and they are now sending that part of the panel to MSU for them to run it--the price difference is minimal--in fact MSU may be less expensive.

Quote:
His symptoms include:

- Excessive thirst
- Pacing
- Whining
- Random barking outbursts (from a dead sleep, to barking, to back to sleep)
- Spinning
- Lunging at the door when someone comes to it
- Hair loss on his chest and underside of neck
- Extreme noise sensitivity
- Panic attacks where he will literally spin in circle and scream if he feels anxious
- He's not excessively overweight or underweight... he has the distinct "tuck" in his abdomen, but he is bigger boned. He's pushing 100lbs right now, give or take a pound.
- His coat is soft and glossy, aside from the light hair loss across his chest and neck
- He seems to have issues swallowing sometimes, but that could be because he has a tendency to eat too fast and has learned to inhale his food no matter the method I use - rocks in his bowl, upside down muffin tins, scattered across the floor, etc.
With the exception of the minor hair loss across his chest and neck none of this list of symptoms really are the common ones for hypothyroid dog.

HOWEVER--symptoms of hypothyroidism also have a range that include things that are almost never seen--so all bets are off--I'm not a vet but I've had fairly extensive experience with hypothyroid Dobermans including one who was diagnosed with lymphocytic thyroiditis (this is a genetic form of hypothyroiditis).

Quote:
We've done behavioral training as well and since the majority of his issues happen only at my house, it's hard for the trainers to fully pinpoint if part of his issue is a lack of training. He is extremely well trained most of the time, but when someone comes to the door, it's like the thinking part of his brain just shuts off.
Some of these "symptoms" actually sound like they might be neurological--but again, I'm not a vet and I'm not a behaviorist.

Quote:
So that's where we are. He has his vet appointment tomorrow, but I wanted to ask all you lovely people -- has anyone had their dog's thyroid removed completely? Is that even a thing? I know humans get it done, but is that something worth doing in dogs? Google doesn't return much for information, but I'm curious if that's an option for my dog.
Removing a thyroid for an animal that has low thyroid values is a fairly weird idea. Talk to your vet about this--dogs are nearly always HYPOTHYROID! That was why your dog was taking a synthetic thyroid suppliment. Cats, on the other hand are nearly always HYPERTHYROID--their thyroid glands are producing too much thyroxine. The symptoms generally are weight loss for openers--just as dogs are rarely hyperthyroid (and it's almost always secondary to over medicating for hypothyroidism). In the case of cats, where medication is not able to control the hyperthyroidism they do sometimes have a treatment which basically kills the thyroid gland (radiation) and then for the rest of their life because they have no thyroxine and they need it they are medicated as a hypothyroid animal.

So unless the results of the full thyroid panel are very different from the first tests that were done there is no earthly reason to remove (or inactivate via radiation) the thyroid gland.

And finding a dog which is hyperthyroid is unusual and as far as I know is almost always due to overtreating case of hypothyroidism by supplimenting with too much thyroxine.

Quote:
I don't want to put him down without exhausting my options, and I definitely don't want to foist his issues on someone else. I've had trainers offer to take him for in-home training, but that doesn't seem like a good option to me because then I can't learn how to deal with his issues.

I really feel like I'm failing him and it's heartbreaking.
While I think that if he's hypothyroid and this is born out by a full thyroid panel and your vet gets him on an appropriate suppliment level and the behavior continues as it is now you need to be looking at something other than thyroid as a cause.

Again--you need to discuss how the thyroid works in dogs, in depth, with your vet. And just so you know--normally the sequence of events for a hypothyroid dog would be to test (at least fo T4 and freeT4)--start the dog on an appropriate dose of meds and RETEST in 4 to 6 weeks to see what the levels look like and adjust as necessary.

Anytime I have a hypothyroid dog (and most Dobes end up with some degree of hypothyroidism as older dogs so that's practically all of my dogs) I retest a dog who is being supplimented for hypothyrodism at least twice a year--just to make sure they are getting appropriate medication.

Good luck...
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post #6 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! I wasn't quite sure WHY thyroids are removed in humans, which is why I was curious if it was a viable option for dogs. Given that he's hypo, removing the thyroid would not be a wise decision. At least now I know the difference between HYPO and HYPER. Thank you!

Atlas is a funny case, given the general symptoms of hypothyroidism. He is definitely not lethargic or overweight, but he does have issues with being cold. He likes food and eats a lot, but stays a steady weight. He brings me his sweater in July sometimes, because he gets cold. He wears his sweater 24/7 from about September to March since Canada is cold. When we go to my boyfriends, he changes into a zip up hoodie because apparently, baby blue is not Atlas' color and my boyfriend thinks he should wear a more masculine hoodie. And yes, he actual wears the hood. He loves when his ears are snuggly warm. haha.

We're going to the vet tomorrow to see what's going on. I have no issues driving around to vets, but his previous one just stopped returning my calls completely. If they don't want my business, that's fine. Luckily, I've been through this whole routine before so I know what kind of tests to ask for, and that's half the battle with some vets. Finding a vet that works with Atlas is the main priority though - some vets in my city just don't like to deal with dogs that are aggressive, despite the fact he's muzzled. I appreciate their honesty in saying so, but it takes some calling around to find a good vet with good doctors who will also deal with an aggressive dog patiently while allowing input from me. I'm not a vet, but I live with my dog and I know him inside and out. I like to think my input is an invaluable tool when it comes to determining a hormone vs behavioral issue.

My goal now is to get him back on medicine (and actually get the pills in bulk this time rather than getting a refill every month like my previous vet insisted on), find the proper dose and see how that affects him, and then deal with any remaining behavioral issues.

I still feel like a bad Doberkid owner, especially since I didn't think to get his pills in bulk before the vet clinic started ignoring me. He was due for follow up bloodwork anyway, but we're basically starting all over again. I am curious to see what the results of his new blood work is, as compared to his original readings below.

Total T3: 0.74
Total T4: 22.9
TSH: 0.06
Free T4: 21.9
Canine Thyroglobulin Autoantibodies: Negative
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post #7 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Neurological issues -- that was another thought that crossed my mind as well, and I know that's one of the worst case scenarios for me, because then euthanasia might be a very real possibility since there won't be a real hope of him getting better. At least with a thyroid issue, medication can offer him some relief. With a neurological problem, he'll always be unpredictable and anxious, and that can't be fun for him. He's very sensitive and I've watched him cower away after he has a "mental break".

Someone came to my door yesterday and knocked. Atlas went absolutely crazy, lunging and barking. He was spinning and carrying on like someone was actually trying to get into the house, but the woman only knocked once and waited. Atlas continued his fit until he was out of sight of the door, and then it was like a light switch flicked - his eyes focused, his ears dropped and he actually looked ashamed. I've never hit him or done more than use a firm voice with him, but he looked fearful. It made me so sad, because I could tell he really didn't know what was going on.

I've read that Sudden Onset Rage Syndrome is a thing, but is it a common thing? Is that something I should look more in-depth into? I have no issues muzzling my dog and I do my best to keep him safe, but I also want him to have a high quality of life. Are there other options for dogs with neurological issues?

For the record, he was completely friendly until he turned 2 or so. He was friends with anyone who entered the house and he loved people. Then, he turned 2 and everyone was an enemy at that point, even people who had been a constant in his life from the time he was a puppy. I had him from 5 months old and he was never abused, so it's puzzling. We've been dealing with this for a while now. Started off as suspected behavioral issues, so we worked a lot on that. Then he started losing fur on his chest and someone here mentioned thyroid testing, which returned low results. And now, here we are.
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post #8 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 05:03 PM Thread Starter
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Google is my friend today. I found this blurb on a website:

Quote:
Epilepsy
Dogs that have epilepsy, and periodically convulse, are often more aggressive in the immediate post-seizure phase before they have fully returned to normal. Dogs in this state should always be handled cautiously as they are not fully aware of what they are doing.

Aggression is also sometimes associated with partial seizures. In this type of seizure the dog does not go into convulsions but remains relatively lucid and yet can display aberrant behavior.
Behavioral Seizures

Partial seizures occurring in a region of the brain that controls aggression (e.g. hypothalamus or limbic system) can result in sudden unprovoked aggression. Certain breeds of dogs are known for this sudden, haphazard, and sometimes violent form of aggression. Included are: Springer spaniels, cocker spaniels, Chesapeake Bay retrievers, bull terriers, poodles, and golden retrievers. The clinical signs of seizure-related aggression are completely different from any of the other types of aggression mentioned above. They are as follows:

A mood change just before the seizure.

Sudden violent aggression for trivial or no reason.

Signs of autonomic discharge (salivation, dilated pupils, and evacuation of anal sacs).

Aggressive posturing, more or less continuous during an attack lasting several minutes, hours or even days.

Following a bout, affected dogs often appear depressed and lethargic, unresponsive to commands, and may stare at a wall or simply sleep. An electroencephalogram (EEG) will often demonstrate abnormalities. Some dogs with this type of aggression may respond to treatment with anti-convulsants (e.g. phenobarbital).
Source: Medical Causes of Aggression In Dogs

This is Atlas to a freaking T (aside from the evacuation of the anal sacs). I've never seen him have an actual seizure, but I have watched him be completely fine with a group of people (while muzzled) for hours. Then suddenly, Atlas will begin to squeal like you're ripping his legs off and lunge at the nearest set of legs. Then, he'll be completely fine again and just go to sleep. His squeal is actually unnerving... it's kind of a cross between a bark and the sound a dog makes when in pain. Here is a picture of him with his group of soldier buddies. None of them are even remotely afraid of him, so I've been taking advantage of that fact to socialize my dog. He wears a muzzle and when he has a mental break, they don't even flinch. I find that is very helpful for Atlas, because it's a calm environment. If people are afraid of him, he gets edgy.



Not long after this picture was taken, he started screaming and lunged at the guy's leg in the striped shirt who isn't even looking at him, basically hitting his face against the guy's leg. The guy actually ignored him through the entire episode because it's not like Atlas can do any damage with his muzzle, and then Atlas immediately laid down beside me and just cried until I took him upstairs to bed.

I guess I can add an epilepsy test to my list of things to ask about. Can a vet do that, or is that a job for a neurologist?
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post #9 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 05:19 PM
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This is something I'd want to hand over to a neurologist. Partial siezure dogs can be very dangerous. A neurologist is best suited to determine cause if these are partial siezures and if they can be controlled.

Unfortunately it's not uncommon to be unable to determine cause of this sort of sezure activity and equally impossible to then adequetly treat it.

Please, keep us posted on what is determined. I'd probably take him to the appoinment you have for tomorrow and get thyroid checked--and discuss with that vet the possibility of a siezure type issue going on.

Re: the results you posted from the original thyroid test. Along with the results you also need to post the reference range. The reference range is the high and low number that would consititute "normal" for a dog. ie: T4 1.7 Reference range 1.0 - 4.0 This would be for a lab called Antech (and actualy it's an older result--they revamped the numbers a few years ago.

And about Rage Syndrome. It's not common but it also isn't unknown in Dobermans. English Springers are the poster children for Rage Syndrome
'

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post #10 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 05:33 PM
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Speaking as someone who takes meds which often require adjustments to get to the right dose--you do NOT want the vet to give you a bulk prescription until you narrow down what med to use and what the proper dosage is. You may end up paying a lot for meds you won’t use.

Once you’ve got a med ID’d so he is stable (if meds are what it takes to stabilize his behavior), then you can start ordering in bulk. For a lot of meds, you can order online cheaper, but be careful who you are ordering from. You can get some recommendations here if you decide to go that way.

Ordinary drugstores (I know Walgreen’s is one) will give you a medication card for dogs which will generally give you some kind of discount for a year if the med he needs is a people med (at least here in the states--I just realized you are from up north of us). You pay something up front for the card--but do the math--it may be worth it to get a price cut on the meds you get for your dog from them.

Last edited by melbrod; 10-24-2016 at 05:44 PM.
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post #11 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dobebug View Post
This is something I'd want to hand over to a neurologist. Partial siezure dogs can be very dangerous. A neurologist is best suited to determine cause if these are partial siezures and if they can be controlled.

Unfortunately it's not uncommon to be unable to determine cause of this sort of sezure activity and equally impossible to then adequetly treat it.

Please, keep us posted on what is determined. I'd probably take him to the appoinment you have for tomorrow and get thyroid checked--and discuss with that vet the possibility of a siezure type issue going on.
Right now, the plan is to keep his appointment and get his thyroid checked. Since I have to pay for an exam anyway, I'll be getting them to do a complete wellness check on him as well. I have a couple other concerns (mainly a cyst on his chest that I've been watching - it's not growing, so I imagine it's just a fat cyst). I'm assuming his thyroid results will come back low, so I'll start him on the 6 week round of medication and if I don't notice any improvement by the time his 6 week follow up comes around, the vet and I will discuss a referral to a canine neurologist to start testing for epilepsy. I'd love to get this all solved quickly, but I know, logically, it'll be a stepping stone sort of a solution. Selfishly, I'm hoping his issues stem from a thyroid deficiency because I'm not ready to handle the worst case scenario - brain tumor or some type of rage syndrome. That's a death sentence for my poor guy and I'm not ready for that yet. Medicating him will bring him quick relief and I have no issues rearranging my schedule to medicate as required, but for something like rage syndrome... there's no real relief for that.

But at least I know he will never be left alone. If he can't be fixed, he will be managed until he's not manageable, and then he will be euthanized surrounded by people who love him.
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post #12 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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Original results (edited to show reference range):

Total T3: 0.74
Ref: 0.90-2.10 nmol/L

Total T4: 22.9
Ref: 13.0-53.0 nmol/L

TSH: 0.06
Ref: 0.00-0.60 ng/mL

Free T4: 21.9
Ref: 9.0-47.4 pmol/L

Canine Thyroglobulin Autoantibodies: Negative

@melbrod -- once we've got his dosages nailed down, I'll be investigating bulk purchasing. I didn't even know that was an option, which is why I didn't ask his original vet about it. I'm bringing in his old bottle with me so the vet has an idea of what amount he was on previously. Previously, I was paying something like $21/month for his Synthyroid, which is nothing in the grand scheme of things.
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post #13 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 05:46 PM
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Right now, the plan is to keep his appointment and get his thyroid checked. Since I have to pay for an exam anyway, I'll be getting them to do a complete wellness check on him as well. I have a couple other concerns (mainly a cyst on his chest that I've been watching - it's not growing, so I imagine it's just a fat cyst). I'm assuming his thyroid results will come back low, so I'll start him on the 6 week round of medication and if I don't notice any improvement by the time his 6 week follow up comes around, the vet and I will discuss a referral to a canine neurologist to start testing for epilepsy. I'd love to get this all solved quickly, but I know, logically, it'll be a stepping stone sort of a solution. Selfishly, I'm hoping his issues stem from a thyroid deficiency because I'm not ready to handle the worst case scenario - brain tumor or some type of rage syndrome. That's a death sentence for my poor guy and I'm not ready for that yet. Medicating him will bring him quick relief and I have no issues rearranging my schedule to medicate as required, but for something like rage syndrome... there's no real relief for that.

But at least I know he will never be left alone. If he can't be fixed, he will be managed until he's not manageable, and then he will be euthanized surrounded by people who love him.
Sounds like a good (and brave) plan to me. Please keep us updated when you can. We care and worry about every sick dog here (and try to support their people).
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post #14 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Sounds like a good (and brave) plan to me. Please keep us updated when you can. We care and worry about every sick dog here (and try to support their people).
I don't know how brave it is, but I want to do right by him. If managing him means he has to muzzled 24/7 or we shouldn't bring him around other people, then that will become his new normal. If I need to get my dog a Valium prescription, then so be it. He will get all the treatment he needs, but I will not put him through chemo or radiation treatment if it turns out to be a tumor of some case. I respect him too much to inflict that level of discomfort on him, unless the vet can tell me his chances are very, very good for a full recovery.
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post #15 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 06:20 PM
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Edited to add: Brave in that you have his best interests in mind, and will make your decisions about his treatment based on HIS comfort and needs, not your own needs at his expense.
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post #16 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-25-2016, 11:11 AM
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Original results (edited to show reference range):

Total T3: 0.74
Ref: 0.90-2.10 nmol/L

Total T4: 22.9
Ref: 13.0-53.0 nmol/L

TSH: 0.06
Ref: 0.00-0.60 ng/mL

Free T4: 21.9
Ref: 9.0-47.4 pmol/L

Canine Thyroglobulin Autoantibodies: Negative

@melbrod -- once we've got his dosages nailed down, I'll be investigating bulk purchasing. I didn't even know that was an option, which is why I didn't ask his original vet about it. I'm bringing in his old bottle with me so the vet has an idea of what amount he was on previously. Previously, I was paying something like $21/month for his Synthyroid, which is nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Bear in mind I am NOT a vet but did the vet who originally tested him discuss the results with you? These results don't look like a hypothyroid dogs results to me--they might be on the lower side of normal but what did the vet say before he actually gave you a prescription for meds? And did they retest after he'd been on medication for 4 to 6 weeks?

One of the reasons that vets sometimes only prescribe a months worth of meds at a time is because the dog should actually be retested to see where his thyroid levels are after starting medication.

I wish you the very best of luck with this dog...please let us know how the testing goes and if you take him to a neurologist for a consult, how that goes as well.
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post #17 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-25-2016, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
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Bear in mind I am NOT a vet but did the vet who originally tested him discuss the results with you? These results don't look like a hypothyroid dogs results to me--they might be on the lower side of normal but what did the vet say before he actually gave you a prescription for meds? And did they retest after he'd been on medication for 4 to 6 weeks?

One of the reasons that vets sometimes only prescribe a months worth of meds at a time is because the dog should actually be retested to see where his thyroid levels are after starting medication.

I wish you the very best of luck with this dog...please let us know how the testing goes and if you take him to a neurologist for a consult, how that goes as well.
Those test results were provided by one vet, after I pushed and pushed for it. He told me the dog was fine.

I took the results to another vet here in Edmonton, who was recommended to me by a few local breeders. He agreed that the results presented on the lower side of normal, but also mentioned that Dobermans with a healthy thyroid would generally show results on the higher side of normal. So he opted to start him on Synthyroid. No one ever mentioned a follow up at 4-6 weeks, but they did say that yearly blood tests were recommended to ensure the liver was still functioning properly because some dogs can show adverse affects to these drugs. But the results were never fully explained to me. But now I know that, and I can make the necessary appointments myself to ensure that everything is going smoothly.

I am very interested to see what his new blood results come back as, though. I'm actually hoping that his thyroid levels are dangerously low, because that is a simple fix. Well, not simple... but it's easier to fix than a brain tumor.

I will definitely be back with the results. His appointment is in 5 hours and blood results usually come back within a day or two (or that was the case the last time I had this testing done).
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post #18 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-25-2016, 04:51 PM
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has his heart health been checked at all?
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post #19 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-25-2016, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
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has his heart health been checked at all?
Not yet... is there a possibility that a weak or malfunctioning heart could trigger aggression? I've never heard of that, but am under the impression that a weak heart would present in a lethargic dog. Atlas is not lethargic at all. But I'm open to education if you have resources for me to read and prepare for my vet appointment this evening.
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post #20 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-26-2016, 10:42 AM Thread Starter
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Update: Atlas had his vet appointment last night and was a surprising gentleman. Of course, I did use precautions because I know what he is capable of when he's anxious or stressed. I asked the vet and techs to give him space when entering and exiting the exam room and while taking his weight. He knows all about the scale, so he stepped right on and sat down. The tech just laughed, saying "it's not normally that simple!"

I brought his original panel results to the vet and she said, "these results don't scream 'hypothyroid' to me at all... did you notice results while he was on medication?"

When he was on medication, he was a completely different dog. Calm, no pacing, less barking, he was actually interested in people and had no concept of a "personal bubble". When I told her this, she smiled and said, "Well, you can't argue with results and every dog is different. While he doesn't show a lot of glaring hypothyroid symptoms - we generally notice the weight gain and lethargy - he could very well be an abnormal case. I notice he does have thinning hair on his neck and chest and you said he gets cold easily. Those are also symptoms. You also mentioned that he gained a whole bunch of weight around the time you originally noticed his heightened aggression and that it seemed to melt away quickly after he started medication. Did I understand that correctly?"

Long story short, she took blood for a thyroid panel again and we should have results by Friday at the absolute latest. We could have them today, but since they were submitted at around 7:15 last night, we could have missed whatever cutoff they have in place.

She also examined him and spent some time simply observing him in the strange surroundings and her general consensus is that he looks reasonably healthy, aside from his thinning coat on his neck and chest. He is hyper-aware of everything around him, to the point of being timid. He sticks close to me, which she said is a true Doberman trait, but he is extremely aware of his surroundings. He will sit and lay down, but doesn't completely relax. Even in the exam room, he was pacing on the end of his leash. Given that, and what I've told her about his behavior with visitors, new places and weather changes, she thinks he is more anxious than anything and asked if he has ever been on anxiety medication. He was on Chlomicalm for about 6 months, but I didn't find it helped at all. Knowing that he was extremely social and friendly up until about 2 years ago, she wonders if there was maybe a trauma in his life that triggered his anxiety, because apparently, dogs can get something similar to PTSD (for lack of a better way to describe it). It could be as simple as a sudden move. For Atlas, it could very well have been the abusive relationship I was in (that I thankfully got out of). He could be attributing visitors as a danger to me, and acting accordingly, but we'll never know that for certain. Either way, she is going to do some additional research into possible anxiety medication for him. There are many possibilities, she said, but it's a matter of finding the right one for him that he can have daily, which will be safe with the thyroid medicine if he gets put back on that. She mentioned Tramadole, but that's more of a situational anxiety pill that you give before events that cause stress to your dog. It's not so much of a daily drug.

Either way, she says he's a good dog and given the way he behaved during the appointment, his exam and subsequent blood work, she doesn't FEEL he has rage syndrome. She said it's a rare condition and she hasn't seen it in a dog in all her years of being a vet, but has studied and researched it. She didn't want to say that he 100% wasn't a rage dog, but she did say she didn't feel he was, just from observing him. We'll do as much health testing as we can and rule as many medical issues as we can beforehand, but she's confident we're dealing with something medically and not neurologically. That being said, something is definitely up with him. If the thyroid panel comes back normal or the same as it was originally, we'll pull more blood for other testing and do a urinalysis as well. In her professional opinion, she feels that he is extremely anxious and in dogs, that can present itself in numerous way, with aggression being one of them. The fact that his aggression is predictable means that he has triggers in place that ramp up his anxiety and if we're able to calm him down with medication, we may also be able to chip away at those triggers and re-train him to know that he doesn't have to fear strangers coming to the door. The fact that he never approaches a stranger from the front when he is aggressive can be a hint of fear; whenever he is fearful, he will always approach the person from behind and if he's startled, he will attempt to nip the back of their lower leg above the ankle. Because he wears a muzzle, he is unable to do anything aside from bumping the muzzle into their leg. When he approaches them, he doesn't bark or growl - it's more of that pain/fear squeal that dogs make when you accidentally step on their tail or something. She didn't want to generalize him and put him into a 'box', so to speak... but she does believe his anxiety is rooted in fear.

So that's where we are. Blood results are pending, she's researching the best anxiety medication for him and we're sitting in limbo a bit right now. We'll have a more conclusive plan by the end of this week, when blood results are back.
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post #21 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-26-2016, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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Wanted to add: Vet did try to trigger Atlas' aggression by entering and exiting the vet examination room. Atlas had a muzzle on, so there was no physical danger to her if he did react strongly.

Vet went out the back exam room door, walked around and entered the room from the door beside Atlas. She walked in calmly, purposely and ignored him. He was watching her, but didn't move or make any indication that he was worried. She repeated this a few times, entering from each door, leaving, talking to him, entering silently, etc. Not a single unfavorable reaction. He'd look, his ears would twitch, but he'd stay in his sitting or down position, depending on what I put him in.

The the vet left from the back door and went to the front exam door, and knocked. Atlas went bonkers, screaming like an injured dog. He lunged at the door before it was opened. Vet waited until she didn't hear his screaming anymore and entered. No attempts to lunge at her, but had she entered when he was screaming... I know he would have lunged.

Her response, "wow. You weren't kidding about that noise. That's not a typical noise made by dogs who are trying to be aggressive... he didn't bark or growl, he went right to that pained squeal. Knowing his history and without seeing his recent blood work, I am willing to say quite certainly that he is extremely fearful of doors and what could be coming through them. I'm not quite sure what it is about a knock that triggers it, but you did say he is very noise sensitive so that could play a part."

Then she mentioned that although he was sitting calmly again, he was watching her more warily than he had in previous entrances/exits. She wants to do more research, talk to some colleagues and gather some information while we await blood results, but feels a lot of his behavioral problems could be resolved by finding the proper anxiety medication for him. No promises, but it's a start. Once we take that initial edge off, we can begin undoing the triggers and showing him that people coming through doors aren't always going to hurt me.
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post #22 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-26-2016, 04:07 PM
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I worked with a board certified veterinary behaviorist for a lot of years with my Shanoa and we had quite a few discussions about low thyroid and how it interacts with behavior in dogs. She said that while low thyroid can exacerbate issues, low thyroid alone will NOT cause the level of issues you are describing. Certainly low thyroid can cause SOME symptoms, but I don't think that the thyroid issue alone is all you are dealing with. I would strongly urge you to work with a veterinary behaviorist in conjunction with a trainer recommended by him/her, as well as treating the thyroid issue.


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post #23 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-26-2016, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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I worked with a board certified veterinary behaviorist for a lot of years with my Shanoa and we had quite a few discussions about low thyroid and how it interacts with behavior in dogs. She said that while low thyroid can exacerbate issues, low thyroid alone will NOT cause the level of issues you are describing. Certainly low thyroid can cause SOME symptoms, but I don't think that the thyroid issue alone is all you are dealing with. I would strongly urge you to work with a veterinary behaviorist in conjunction with a trainer recommended by him/her, as well as treating the thyroid issue.
That's the plan, once we rule out any underlying health issues first. I want to set him up for success, which is why it's important to me to make sure he's completely healthy before starting behavioral assessments and I know any good behaviorist will ask if these tests have been done prior to training.
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post #24 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-26-2016, 04:22 PM
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That's the plan, once we rule out any underlying health issues first. I want to set him up for success, which is why it's important to me to make sure he's completely healthy before starting behavioral assessments and I know any good behaviorist will ask if these tests have been done prior to training.
Maybe I didn't phrase it very well, but you could absolutely be working with the behaviorist in conjunction with starting thyroid treatment. The one I worked with would not request you wait for his thyroid to even out before beginning a plan of action, but would take that into account in her plan of treatment, because she would know that the thyroid issue was only one factor causing your issue. Does that make sense? She would rather see dogs sooner than later, and works with their other vets on any other health issues that might affect their behavioral issues, because she sees all of that as part of the big picture of the behavior of the dog.


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post #25 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-28-2016, 12:21 PM Thread Starter
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Still waiting on blood results, so in the meantime... here is Atlas playing with a door stopper. I always hear him playing with it, but can never catch him in the act. The look he's giving just kills me. "Oh. Hello there, mother. Yes, I am playing with this. What are YOU going to do?"

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