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Greetings to all - wanted to post some lab results and get some opinions from others more familiar with the breed.

I have a 3yo castrated male doberman rescue that I have cared for for about 1.5 years now. This animal came to me a little fearful and had previous bites at his first 3(?) homes and was returned.

I immediately took to shaping this animals behavior and controlling the aggression/fear issues from day one with a good deal of success.

I have noticed in the past 3-4 months however that he is being more nervous/fearful even in normal situations that he experiences every day (including the simple ride in the car to the park). Excessive whining/anxiety and even an incident of unprovoked aggression towards a person he knows well (i.e. he sees/interacts with them nearly every day) as well. Because of this I brought him in for a 6 panel test.

The animal is fed a full raw diet with the usual supplements (kelp, alfalfa, grand flex, vitamin E, etc..) He is healthy with a nice coat - albeit a little thin on the underbelly and near the joints - but otherwise nothing excessive. He is generally hyper - and as of late - his focus during obedience has been even more limited because of this.

The lab results are as follows:

TT4: 26 (ref range 15-67 nmol/L)
TT3: 1.0 (ref range 1.0-2.5 nmol/L)
FT4: 12 (ref range 8-26 pmol/L)
FT3: 4.9 (ref range 4.5-12.0 pmol/L)

T4AA: 8 (ref range 0-20% considered inconclusive up to 35%)
T3AA: 1 (ref range 0-10% considered inconclusive up to 35%)
TSH: 14 (ref range 0-37 mU/L)
TGAA: 6 (ref range 0-35 %)

The clinical interpretation came back as normal (albeit Low). I'm personally inclined to try supplementation to see if I notice any changes in the (especially recent) behavior patterns of this dog. My vet doesn't seem to have much experience with these situations as I believe he has only treated patients that were clinically diagnosed.

While I can continue to use obedience to shape behaviors to control the reactions I feel like I am swimming against a tide as of late. It also creates a bad situation for the animal when the handler (myself) is not present to provide that confidence aura - making it troublesome for less experienced handlers to live with the animal. I liken it to having a loaded gun with a faulty safety. It's not the kind of thing I would just leave lying around the house if everyone wasn't trained in handling firearms. (and even then - I wouldn't, but you get the idea)

So - what are some other lab results for dobes in this age range? Are these numbers really out of whack for this breed? Given the behavioral issues that seem to be getting progressively worse - is supplementation the right path? I'm not sure how much more structure I can give this animal as he is already on a strict NILF program in addition to tracking/obedience work along with an endless variety of training games.

I know that your mileage may vary - especially when it comes to Endocrinology test results. As such, I really wanted to get feedback from the savviest group of Doberman owners I know of on the Internet.

Side Notes on Behavior/Training: He loves to play with me and has strong prey drive while exhibiting good control while both on/off lead on the field (this has progressively gotten worse over the last 6 months however)- he tends to shut down in front of the helper (or any stranger) and starts practicing avoidance which at present leaves him out of protection work. The helper who has worked with him the most seems to think that he had some bad helper work in a prior life (the bite suit seemed to trigger the avoidance). I'm not terribly sure as he only knew basic obedience and practiced AKC heeling (which has been a real bear to get him out of the mopey dog look).

He shows confidence when working otherwise - and is traffic sure (downtown Chicago walks during lunch hour when sidewalks are shoulder to shoulder are no problem) - but a lone runner on a trail approaching us immediately creates an aggressive response whereas running him in the field of a marathon would be fine. (Fair enough - I get the anomaly response in dogs)

Temperament wise - he's quick to recover and doesn't cower behind the handler. Curious (if even backing off for a second after the unexpected stimulus - he approaches readily/quickly once the suprise subsides) and during aggressive stranger tests kept the lead taught with confident defensive barks.

He came to me with some severe claustrophobia but I have consistently worked with him on that and he's fine. My guess is that it came from excessive lengths of time kenneling due to his behavior in prior homes before arriving here.

Strong appetite, somewhat pushy around feeding time - but who isn't? No aggression towards me around food/toys/bones/etc.

That's about all I can think of for now - without getting too wordy.
 

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I would be inclined to supplement a low-normal. Not because of insufficient protection work but because of the other stress behaviors such as riding in the car. You said he is a rescue. Do you know his pedigree? Not every dog can handle protection work; maybe he's reached his limit and is trying to tell you.

Why don't you supplement the thyroid a little and back off the protection while waiting for it to kick in? Work on tracking or agility in the meantime.
 

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I would be inclined to supplement a low-normal. Not because of insufficient protection work but because of the other stress behaviors such as riding in the car. You said he is a rescue. Do you know his pedigree? Not every dog can handle protection work; maybe he's reached his limit and is trying to tell you.

Why don't you supplement the thyroid a little and back off the protection while waiting for it to kick in? Work on tracking or agility in the meantime.
Agreed on that point - I haven't touched protection with him for about 6 months and he's pretty content watching the other dogs work. :)

New behaviors such as the car stress/unprovoked aggression are the ones that concern me the most.

While I don't know his pedigree - I'm guessing he came from show lines based on the smaller/lighter frame and ear crop style. Henceforth _ I don't expect much out him in terms of working aptitude. I'm happy to simply "run him through the program" to get the fringe benefits that come along with it.

The main question I come back to - is that since this dogs reading are low - but it's obviously not an autoimmune problem based on the TSH levels - is supplementation the typical choice chosen in these cases? Are other doberman owners who have had tests on their own dogs seen similar readings for normal/healthy animals?

I'm really hoping to get some anecdotal information from other owners out there to get an idea on where this animal's levels are at compared to others of his breed. Ideally - I would like at least enough data points to get a good "feel" for the numbers in this breed.

It seems as though all of the research/treatment is based around autoimmune disorders - fair enough - as this is a matter of concern for breeding, etc. But behavioral disorders/endocrinology references for animals are few/far between - and even less with actual science/studies behind them.
 

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Agreed on that point - I haven't touched protection with him for about 6 months and he's pretty content watching the other dogs work. :)

New behaviors such as the car stress/unprovoked aggression are the ones that concern me the most.

While I don't know his pedigree - I'm guessing he came from show lines based on the smaller/lighter frame and ear crop style. Henceforth _ I don't expect much out him in terms of working aptitude. I'm happy to simply "run him through the program" to get the fringe benefits that come along with it.

The main question I come back to - is that since this dogs reading are low - but it's obviously not an autoimmune problem based on the TSH levels - is supplementation the typical choice chosen in these cases? Are other doberman owners who have had tests on their own dogs seen similar readings for normal/healthy animals?

I'm really hoping to get some anecdotal information from other owners out there to get an idea on where this animal's levels are at compared to others of his breed. Ideally - I would like at least enough data points to get a good "feel" for the numbers in this breed.

It seems as though all of the research/treatment is based around autoimmune disorders - fair enough - as this is a matter of concern for breeding, etc. But behavioral disorders/endocrinology references for animals are few/far between - and even less with actual science/studies behind them.
I don't usually do the testing through MSU anymore and don't really have a good feel for those numbers even with the reference range given. (Generally I test through ANTECH--since they also do a complete panel and the clinic where I work gets a special rate for employees who are doing tests) Given the T4 and Free T4 numbers and reference range I'd think it was low enough that I'd be talking to the vet about doing a thyroid supplement.

The stress and aggression would definitely have me talking to the vet about supplements.

Hypothyroidism is very common in Dobermans and practically every Dobe I've had in the last thirty years has ended up at some point on thyroid meds. One as young as two and one as old as 8--but they all ended up hypothyroid.

Unfortunately some of the symptoms vary enough from dog to dog that it can be hard to tell exactly what is being affected by the thyroid levels.

I test my dogs at about 2 (full panel) just so that their vet and I have an idea what passes for normal with them before they end up with actual under range or very low in range thyroid levels. It gives us a target level to shoot for. Supplementing to too high levels can cause cardiac arrhythmias--something you really don't want to do with a dog of a breed that is prone to cardiac problems.

Anxiety and behavior issues are more often seen with dogs over supplemented with thyroid meds but I've heard enough commentary from people who have had low thyroid dogs who were very anxious and/or aggressive and have found that appropriate thyroid supplements did solve the problem.

The commonest signs of low thyroid are hair loss (back of ears, back, flanks) weight gain with no increase in food or decrease in activity, lethergy and for one of my dogs who showed none of the classic signs of hypothyroidism he lost all ability to focus--turned into a blonde in the agility ring. Tested him and he'd gone from mid range normal to under range low in less than six months. Thyroid supplements took care of the problem.

I'd talk to my vet about it though--the average veterinarian sees many dogs of many breed who are hypothyroid and should be able to give you guidance on this particular issue.

And yes, low thyroid levels are usually treated with medication. Soloxine is sort of the gold standard--fewer people have had problems with that supplement than some of the others. Although through several dogs I've used Soloxine, thyroxine, thyrotabs and thyroxol (a liquid) and all have worked with my dogs--evidently there is an occasional dog who does better on one of the drugs than another.
 

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O-K, here are some #'s. This is an Antech panel run on Pullo in Sept; he was 2.5yrs. We ran it to have a baseline. He does have Addison's Disease(A-typical) so is on a low dose of dailey Pred-2.5-3mg.

T3 130 45-150
T4 2.2 1.0-4.0
free T4(dialysis) 31 8-40
T3 Autoantibodies .7 0-2
T4 Autoantibodies .8 0-2

TSH level 0.14 0.00-0.60

Free T3 3.4 1.7-5.3

Thyroglobulin Autoantibodies 1


The Pred lowers his T4. he is normal now but I think the presence of Autoantibodies means he won't be forever.
 
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