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  Topic Review (Newest First)
12-21-2016 11:48 AM
CourtneyLynn Update: Atlas's new dosage seems to be working very well, now that his body is fairly adjusted to it. Not only is he more relaxed around door knocks and doorbells, his anxious/OCD tendencies have stopped. Before Prozac, he used to drink water whenever he was nervous. He would just stand and drink an entire 5 gallon bucket of water. At first, I thought he was just thirsty, but then I started connecting scary incidents for him to the water bucket. Now that he's more relaxed all around, he doesn't drink as much. He still drinks when he's thirsty, but he doesn't park himself at the bucket and drink the entire thing. He doesn't bolt his food anymore, although his appetite hasn't dissipated at all (a possible side effect of the drug). He's more focused, he no longer paces and when he goes to bed, he stays in bed. His accidents in the house have all, but stopped (he used to pee on the floor when I'd leave his sight, unless he was in a kennel). How, he can be trusted to be alone in the house if I go into the garage or something.

Even when he is anxious, he is more manageable. I joke with people that his brain no longer shuts off, but it's true... before his medication, he would seriously shut down. His eyes would close and he would lunge at the nearest body. Now, he'll look at me first and wait for my cue. He actually sits and waits away from the door now when people enter or leave (still muzzled), and no longer forces past me to rush the door. When my other dog barks, he may or may not join in, but he no longer escalates the issue. Before, he would actually go from 0 to 360 in an instant, and there were a few times where I narrowly avoided a dog fight because his aggression would escalate in seconds. Now, it's debatable if he even barks. When something interests him or catches his attention, he MIGHT point his ears toward it, but his hackles stay down now. A lot of the time, I can simply tell him, "put the ears away" and he calms right down again.

He yawns and sighs a lot more now, which I'm told is a sign of relaxation. Overall, he's much happier. He may not ever be 100% safe to be around everyone without a muzzle, but he IS making progress very rapidly, considering how long we've been dealing with the issue. Every day gets a little better and for me, I no longer live in fear of the doorbell because he is 100% more controllable now. He listens, even when he is feeling anxious or afraid.
12-07-2016 02:21 PM
MeadowCat Sounds really positive! Med levels somtimes need tweaking even later, as they can build tolerance. Really happy you're seeing improvements!
12-07-2016 01:20 PM
4x4bike ped Sure sounds like progress to me!

John
Portland OR
12-07-2016 12:12 PM
CourtneyLynn 4 week update: Atlas has been on his medication for 4 weeks now and while it's working, I've asked the vet to slightly increase it. At first, his dosage was working quite well, but as his body adjusted to it, his anxiety came back in a lot of situations. It wasn't nearly to the level it was before medication, but like the vet said at the beginning, the goal is to find his exact perfect dose instead of overdosing him at the beginning. She started him on one of the lower doses for his weight, which would allow us to gradually increase as needed until we found that "sweet spot". On the dose we're at now, his pacing has diminished completely and he's no longer as needy and touchy-feely as he was. The doorbell still alerts him, but not to the point where he's spinning and screaming and barking. So that's a plus.

We're taking his re-socialization slowly as well. He'll likely never earn the privilege of being unmuzzled, but we're hopeful that he'll be allowed to interact with people calmly with his muzzle eventually. After he met my tenant successfully once, he had a bit of a step back and forgot who he was last week. Tenant walked away, Atlas barked once and tried to lunge. He was on a leash and muzzled so it wasn't a huge deal, but it was still a small reminder that it's going to take some work to train that out of him.

On the plus side, someone rang the doorbell at my boyfriend's house when Atlas was loose in the house. Atlas went to the door, barked a few times and then was very agreeable in being re-routed to another room so the visitor could come in safely. Before his medication, his anxiety would have skyrocketed and it would have taken two people to shove him back from the door before he went through it.

But still, positive updates all around.
11-23-2016 12:10 PM
MeadowCat So glad to hear about the improvements!

Melbrod hit it exactly...medication allows their brain to actually enter a state to be able to learn and retain new behavior. For some dogs, it's something they will need forever. Like people, they have a chemical imbalance that needs to be adjusted through medication. For others, it's temporary, and eventually they can be weaned off the drugs when they have learned and retained those new behaviors and essentially "rewired" new pathways in the brain. It's really okay, either way. We want our dogs to be successful and well adjusted - we don't want them to live with that anxiety!

I'm thrilled to hear you are seeing such progress!
11-22-2016 01:54 PM
melbrod Great to hear your pup is improving--his behavior sounds difficult to live with, but I bet he’s been feeling miserable inside too.

One of the advantages to the anxiety meds is that you can take the edge off, so to speak, enough that you can reach their mind in a relatively calm place to start work on the socialization and fear issues. A dog may need his meds all his life, but with some less affected dogs you may be able to work them through their fears enough that they can be taken off of the meds. The med gives you a window of time to work within to start helping them get their behavior back to a more manageable level.
11-22-2016 11:54 AM
CourtneyLynn Another positive update: Atlas met my new tenant (muzzled, of course), and we had no issues. When meeting new people previously, he would waver between docile, agitated and timid. This time, he went right up to the tenant, sat down and asked to be petted. No shyness at all. The only "iffy" moment was when the tenant stood up to move around the kitchen. In the past, this is where Atlas would get very nervous and begin screaming. This time, his ears only focused on the tenant and he stood up, but very quickly sat back down when I told him to. His ears relaxed and that was it. So now, we're working up to the point where he can be loose in the house while still wearing his muzzle.

At my boyfriend's house this weekend, someone came to the door and both knocked AND rang the bell. Normally, this would send Atlas into an absolute frenzy. The doorbell rang, his ears went up and he calmly went to the door. No barking, no spinning. I put his leash on, led him into the living room away from the door and my boyfriend opened it. Atlas could see the visitor, his ears were focused, but he was relaxed otherwise. No barking, no crying or lunging... nothing. He also has a lot less anxiety when we put him in his kennel and leave the house - he's fine to be kenneled at my house, but he gets anxious at my boyfriend's. Since going on his medication, he doesn't make a peep in his kennel, even if he's in there and he can hear us downstairs.

We still have work to do, but after these two instances... I have a lot of hope that it's possible for Atlas to return to the dog he was before all these issues started. As a young dog, he was everyone's friend. As long as you petted him when you came in the house, he was your best friend. My goal is to be able to let him socialize with people in both houses with a muzzle by Christmas. So far, that's looking very, very possible.
11-16-2016 06:26 PM
CourtneyLynn Quick update on this:

For whatever reason, Atlas appeared to improve on thyroid medicine, despite the fact his primary vet and a couple other vets felt his blood work did not indicate thyroid problems. I called and emailed a couple board certified veterinary behaviorists and have not had much luck reaching them. Given the fact that the nearest is a 12 hour drive from me, simply hopping in my car for an appointment is a tad bit difficult. But I have hope they'll get back to me eventually.

That being said, we have opted for a different treatment plan for Atlas. Rather than continuing thyroid medication (since there was no medical proof he needed it, it just worked for him for whatever reason), his primary vet prescribed 20mg twice daily of Prozac for my anxiety ridden dog. She discussed his case with a few other local vets and a couple more across Canada and given his normal bloodwork, but his OCD/Anxiety ridden tendencies, she feels we'd have more luck treating the anxiety first while working on the behavior side.

Atlas has been on Prozac for about 2 weeks now. He is still alert, but not hyper alert to everything. He no longer paces and he sleeps through the night now rather than waking himself up by barking. He still isn't happy when people come to the door, but he no longer spins in circles and screams. He barks, but he is much, much easier to redirect and calm down. He no longer takes hours to calm down if someone knocks on the door, which is a HUGE positive. Before his medication, he was basically a write off the rest of the day if someone stopped by unexpectedly, and would have to sit in a quiet room for hours because the smallest noise would incite spinning and screaming. Now, I simply leash him, redirect him from the door and ask him to sit or lay down. Over the course of 10-15 minutes, I can see his ears go from actively pointed at the visitor to tucked back and relaxed because he's no longer concerned about them. That being said, he's still muzzled and leashed whenever he's not kenneled, but he can sit calmly in a room with people and not lose his mind if they move suddenly. He isn't so obsessive about things either - before prozac, he would literally stand and drink water when he was feeling anxious. Some dogs lick, some dogs chew... mine would just drink water. He would drink and drink and drink until he threw up water and then he'd drink some more. Now, I've noticed he still drinks water, but he doesn't seem to do it obsessively. According to his vet, a dog his size should drink about 2.5 liters a day, give or take his activity level and the temperature. Over the course of 1 week, his intake averaged just over 2.5L.

The vet said I wouldn't notice "real" changes until we gave the drug 4-6 weeks to really settle in his system, but I'm feeling quite positive at how well it's working so far. My dog isn't dopey or loopy, it's just like the drug took the obsessive, hyper sensitive side of him away. He has more attention for things now and actively looks to me for direction when someone comes to the door, rather than simply shutting down and freaking out. After 6 weeks, we may need to adjust the dosage, but that will be a matter of trial and error.
10-30-2016 07:00 PM
dobebug
Quote:
Originally Posted by CourtneyLynn View Post
On an aside, how soon does one begin to see results from medication? I'm trying to figure out if this is just a random coincidence, or if Atlas' medication is actually helping. He got his first dose of Thyro-Tabs at around 6pm on Friday. He's had 4 pills in total so far and will get another one in a few hours. Since starting on his pills, he doesn't pace as much and he seems more relaxed. His ears have been flopped to the side more often than they've been focused on random little noises and last night, he actually went to bed at the same time I did, rather than pacing in circles and crying for half the night. This morning, there were dogs and kids yelling outside and while he was alert and listening, he sat quietly instead of barking or having a melt down. The big success was yesterday evening... he was laying on the couch with me (on a leash) and my boyfriend's room mate came downstairs. Rather than immediately sitting up and trying to jump over me to see what was going on and stare, or tensing up, he simply re-adjusted his head so he could see what the room mate was doing in the kitchen, but stayed completely relaxed. This is completely new for him. Both the room mate and my boyfriend were quite impressed since he's never been that relaxed - at least not in the year they've known him.

If he wasn't so playful, I'd wonder if he wasn't feeling well... but he seems more willing to fetch toys and play than he has in a little while. When someone knocked on the door today, he still ran to the door and barked, but he also didn't spin around and scream. He barked a few times, but went to lay down when I told him to.

Not sure if this is just a crazy coincidence or if these pills actually begin to work that fast. I don't remember such a change the last time he started medication, but my memory sucks lately. Either way, he's more relaxed and as a result, so am I. It's kind of nice.
I don't know-4 pills ( days on meds?) is really much faster than I've seen results in any of my dogs. But I wasn't ever dealing with anxieties and reactiveness like your boy has.

The closest (and the fastest turn around)was in any of my dogs who was running agility--I was watching him run (a friend runs my agility dogs for me) and thought "What the hell is going on with my dog--he's gone blond in his old age?" He was around 8. He'd been on thyroid meds for 18 months or so and had been tested a month after he was started on meds and then every six months and his levels had been staying at levels that would indicate he was on an appropriate dosage.

I took him to work with me the following day and ran a thyroid test--when it came back the following day his T4 and free T4 were both totally out of normal range. We upped his dosage from 0.6mg to 0.8mg BID and it took about two and a half weeks before we could see a noticeable change. And when retested at 4 weeks his levels were back up to "normal". And the following weekend (3 weeks after upping the dose) he was back to running agility as if his brain was working again.
10-30-2016 06:36 PM
dobebug
Quote:
Originally Posted by CourtneyLynn View Post
@dobebug -- yes, the drug was Trazadone. I got the Tra-names confused and when I was googling Tramazol was the first that popped up. But Trazadone is the one she mentioned.
I wondered if something like that might have happened...Tramadole is much better generally known than Trazadone.

Quote:
His original dose of synthyroid was 0.3mg. His current medication (and I'm reading right off the label) is: Thyro-Tab 0.3mg Tablet. Directions are 1 tablet by mouth every 12 hours, check serum T4 levels in 6-8 weeks. Blood sample is to be collected 4-6 hours after pill is given.
That's SOP and every vial of any thyroid med I've ever had says almost the same thing. I wonder why the first vet prescribed Synthroid? That's what most people taking thyroid meds get but in 20 years and many dogs on thyroid meds I've never had any dog get Synthroid--currently in the USA about the only thing prescribed would be thyro-tabs. There's an explanation for that which is too long and too stupid to even attempt to explain. But in the past my dogs have been on Soloxine, and several other brands--the active ingredient is the same in all of them.

Quote:
It is a very small dose, less than half what a hypothyroid dog is normally prescribed. The vet isn't convinced he's hypothyroid, so she wanted to start him back on a low dose and see where he is at his follow up appointment. 0.3mg was his previous dose and we didn't want to deviate too much because it made such a huge difference in his overall mood. Sorry for the confusion - I just went back to my original post and noticed I added an extra 0 in there. I'm going to blame it on exhaustion - I haven't really slept well in weeks.
0.3 mg isn't all that small a dose. One of my first dogs on thyoid meds was on @ 0.3 BID--it never changed in the many years he was on that dose.

I wasn't convinced that he was actually hypothyroid either based on the first test. It was in the lower part of the normal range but not all that low--and even though Dobes have tendency to be symptomtic while still within normal limits if they are low normal, his didn't look all that low to me. But I'm not a vet. The thing that I see that I think is odd in the second set of values is that change in the TSH.
10-30-2016 05:46 PM
CourtneyLynn On an aside, how soon does one begin to see results from medication? I'm trying to figure out if this is just a random coincidence, or if Atlas' medication is actually helping. He got his first dose of Thyro-Tabs at around 6pm on Friday. He's had 4 pills in total so far and will get another one in a few hours. Since starting on his pills, he doesn't pace as much and he seems more relaxed. His ears have been flopped to the side more often than they've been focused on random little noises and last night, he actually went to bed at the same time I did, rather than pacing in circles and crying for half the night. This morning, there were dogs and kids yelling outside and while he was alert and listening, he sat quietly instead of barking or having a melt down. The big success was yesterday evening... he was laying on the couch with me (on a leash) and my boyfriend's room mate came downstairs. Rather than immediately sitting up and trying to jump over me to see what was going on and stare, or tensing up, he simply re-adjusted his head so he could see what the room mate was doing in the kitchen, but stayed completely relaxed. This is completely new for him. Both the room mate and my boyfriend were quite impressed since he's never been that relaxed - at least not in the year they've known him.

If he wasn't so playful, I'd wonder if he wasn't feeling well... but he seems more willing to fetch toys and play than he has in a little while. When someone knocked on the door today, he still ran to the door and barked, but he also didn't spin around and scream. He barked a few times, but went to lay down when I told him to.

Not sure if this is just a crazy coincidence or if these pills actually begin to work that fast. I don't remember such a change the last time he started medication, but my memory sucks lately. Either way, he's more relaxed and as a result, so am I. It's kind of nice.
10-30-2016 05:29 PM
CourtneyLynn @dobebug -- yes, the drug was Trazadone. I got the Tra-names confused and when I was googling Tramazol was the first that popped up. But Trazadone is the one she mentioned.

His original dose of synthyroid was 0.3mg. His current medication (and I'm reading right off the label) is: Thyro-Tab 0.3mg Tablet. Directions are 1 tablet by mouth every 12 hours, check serum T4 levels in 6-8 weeks. Blood sample is to be collected 4-6 hours after pill is given.

It is a very small dose, less than half what a hypothyroid dog is normally prescribed. The vet isn't convinced he's hypothyroid, so she wanted to start him back on a low dose and see where he is at his follow up appointment. 0.3mg was his previous dose and we didn't want to deviate too much because it made such a huge difference in his overall mood. Sorry for the confusion - I just went back to my original post and noticed I added an extra 0 in there. I'm going to blame it on exhaustion - I haven't really slept well in weeks.
10-30-2016 04:17 PM
ObeytheDobies Hey CourtneyLynn,

I'm in BC and because of Soters' many health issues we been all around the province and into yours seeing various vets and specialists. We saw an absolutely amazing vet in Edmonton who actually was the one who diagnosed the copper storage disease and a wonderful neurologist in BC for the seizures.
Feel free to PM me if you would any names and/or details on the people we've been to
10-30-2016 04:06 PM
dobebug
Quote:
Originally Posted by CourtneyLynn View Post
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.
I came back to your post of several days ago to make what I think is a correction just so someone reading this who doesn't know about some of these drugs doesn't get the wrong information.

I read the business about the vet intending to look into more appropriate anxiety medication and you went on to name Tramadole. I wondered about this at the time but wanted to make sure I looked it up since there are many drugs used off label for a variety of things. So even though I was pretty sure (since I've had more than one Dobe on Tramadol long term) that it probably wasn't the drug your vet named for use for situational anxiety I did double check.

Tramadol is a synthetic opioid--its primary use is for pain relief--and it's often used in conjunction with other pain relief meds--mostly because it can be used with other drugs without triggering fatal interactions and can be used long term generally without problems. Like evey drug it can, for some people and dogs have some unfortunate side effect but all things considered it's a pretty benign drug when you think about drugs for pain relief.

The drug I think your vet propably talked about was most likely Trazadone. This IS a drug which is often prescribed for axiety and can be used for situatonal anxiety. Check with her and make sure though.
10-29-2016 03:11 PM
dobebug
Quote:
Originally Posted by CourtneyLynn View Post
So, based on the paperwork I picked up from the vet and his original paperwork, Atlas' results are actually lower than they were previously. Still within normal, but a low normal. I finally had a chance to look at them and compare and this is where we're at:

New results:
T4 - 16.3 (ref: 13.0 - 53.0) ** Original was 22.9 (ref: 13.0 - 53.0)
Free T4 - 14.9 (ref: 7.7 - 47.6) ** Original was 21.9 (ref: 9.0 - 47.4)
TSH - 0.33 (ref: 0 - 0.60) ** This one is actually marginally higher - his original was 0.06.
T3 - 0.74 (ref: 0.99-2.10) ** same on both tests
I would regard the changes in T4, Free T4 and TSH as significant--particularly the TSH--that's a pretty huge rise in values. The drop in T4 and free T4 is enough that I would also view them as sgnficant.

In my dogs the TSH rarely has changed much even though T4 and Free T4 have been dropping.

Because other things going on with a dog can affect thyroid levels (just as thyroid level can affect other things--like skin, weight etc) so it'll be interesting to see what the recheck shows and if the dosage of thyro-tabs (and is it really .03mg BID?--that is a tiny dose for a dog--.3mg BID would be a low dose for a dog and about what a dog without a lot of clinical symptoms might be put on) has any effect.

Quote:
His current prescription is 0.03mg/twice daily of Thyro-Tab. His appointment is already made for 6 weeks from now to re-test everything and see if his thyroid is holding steady or if something has changed and we need to change his prescription or cut it out altogether.
What dose was prescribed by the vet who originally put him on the Synthroid?
10-29-2016 01:36 PM
CourtneyLynn So, based on the paperwork I picked up from the vet and his original paperwork, Atlas' results are actually lower than they were previously. Still within normal, but a low normal. I finally had a chance to look at them and compare and this is where we're at:

New results:
T4 - 16.3 (ref: 13.0 - 53.0) ** Original was 22.9 (ref: 13.0 - 53.0)
Free T4 - 14.9 (ref: 7.7 - 47.6) ** Original was 21.9 (ref: 9.0 - 47.4)
TSH - 0.33 (ref: 0 - 0.60) ** This one is actually marginally higher - his original was 0.06.
T3 - 0.74 (ref: 0.99-2.10) ** same on both tests

His current prescription is 0.03mg/twice daily of Thyro-Tab. His appointment is already made for 6 weeks from now to re-test everything and see if his thyroid is holding steady or if something has changed and we need to change his prescription or cut it out altogether.

I left a couple phone messages for some board certified behaviorists outside of Alberta and have sent an email to one vet in Okotoks. I was at a party with a vet the other day and she mentioned that there is a vet at her clinic who has a special interest in cases like this. Not board certified, but again, lots of extra research and training into endocrine systems, neurological problems and behavioral issues. She's only 20 minutes from my house, so it's worthwhile for me to go, sit down and let her observe Atlas before making the 4 hour drive to Okotoks or deciding I should just take him for a road trip to Vancouver (because that is a possibility if it will really, really help him). I'm waiting to hear back from a more knowledgeable vet on this matter before starting him on an anxiety med. My logic tells me that he'll have an easier time losing his triggers if he's less anxious, but I'm waiting for some input from other vets before doing that.

In the interim, I have hung a sign on my door that tells people: "Warning - I have very anxious dog who needs special attention when you knock on the door. If you knock, please be patient while I work with him and help him get settled. If you would like to become my best friend, please do not knock... call me instead."
10-28-2016 05:46 PM
CourtneyLynn
Quote:
Originally Posted by MeadowCat View Post
Sometimes the veterinary behaviorists will do phone consults with your regular vet, or some will do Skype consults with you, etc. So you may want to call the ones farther away and just inquire if the doc closer to you doesn't work out.
That's my hope if the closer one doesn't work out, but I'm thinking I might just call the Vancouver one anyway to talk and pick their brain about things.
10-28-2016 04:59 PM
MeadowCat Sometimes the veterinary behaviorists will do phone consults with your regular vet, or some will do Skype consults with you, etc. So you may want to call the ones farther away and just inquire if the doc closer to you doesn't work out.
10-28-2016 01:51 PM
CourtneyLynn UPDATE: Blood work is in and it is almost exactly the same as it was on his last test. But since he seemed to improve on thyroid medicine, his vet is going to give him a prescription for 0.3mg twice daily. It's a small dosage, but we're still going to watch him for adverse affects. In the past, it leveled him out enough that he actually stopped and considered the door knock rather than simply going crazy and screaming. So that's a bonus when it comes to trying to train those triggers out of him.

Next, Alberta does not have any board certified behaviorists. There is one in Toronto, one in Vancouver and three in Quebec. At present time, Vancouver is the closest and is approximately a 12 hour drive from me. However, there is a vet in Okotoks (4 hours south of me) that is not board certified, but has special interest and a lot of additional training and certifications in animal behavior. She is not board certified, but as close as I'm going to get without a 12 hour drive. I have sent her an email, describing Atlas and his behaviors, so now we're just waiting for a reply. If she feels she can help him, I'll be making an appointment and taking a road trip with the doberkid. If she feels it would be better for him to see the vet in Vancouver, I guess we'll be taking a longer road trip.

We're also considering starting him on Fluoxetine (doggie prozac), but will be holding off on that until I get a chance to talk with the vet in Okotoks. If she thinks it's worth a try, we will.

So that's where we are now. I guess it's not the best update, but at least we're ruling out some health issues.
10-28-2016 12:21 PM
CourtneyLynn 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?"

10-26-2016 04:22 PM
MeadowCat
Quote:
Originally Posted by CourtneyLynn View Post
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.
10-26-2016 04:16 PM
CourtneyLynn
Quote:
Originally Posted by MeadowCat View Post
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.
10-26-2016 04:07 PM
MeadowCat 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.
10-26-2016 11:34 AM
CourtneyLynn 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.
10-26-2016 10:42 AM
CourtneyLynn 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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