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?
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.
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.
His symptoms include:
- Excessive thirst
- Random barking outbursts (from a dead sleep, to barking, to back to sleep)
- 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).
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.
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.
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.