Among the human symptoms are fatigue, sleepiness, cold sensitivity, constipation, dry skin, memory loss, weight gain, muscle aches and pain, stiffness of the joints and depression. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
Now, imagine if you were a dog and couldn't tell anyone you felt this way?
|I know I look sad and pathetic but it's not really about hypothryroidism.|
You just can't see the bone I'm being so good about "leaving".
But first, let's rewind a few weeks.
When Bella first attacked Jan, we immediately set up an appointment with our vet to rule out any physical causes for her bad behavior. Of course, she was a perfect, if shut-down, angel during the physical examination and according to our vets, her blood-work came back "perfectly normal". According to our vets.
Don't get me wrong, I like our vets. But vets have a lot of information they need to keep track of and may not always be the most up-to-date on every condition out there. However, having dealt with the condition myself, and experienced first-hand how shifts in diagnostic ranges can impact and influence treatment, I was curious to see Bella's actual results.
When I saw that her "T4" (the main thyroid hormone) came in at 1.1 on a "normal" range of 1.0 - 4.0, I actually turned to Jan and said, "I think she's hypothyroid".
|Seriously, can I eat this now?|
Her levels are low but not below the diagnostic range. According to Dr. Dodman, this condition is a behavioral affliction in and of itself. Dogs with this condition "may become anxious or fearful, become more aggressive... may also appear hyperactive". Hmmm. Sound like anyone you know and love?
Dr. Dodman believes that dogs who are sub-clinically hypothyroid can benefit from a low-dose of synthetic hormone. Their T4 levels and behavior are monitored over time to check for improvements. The first re-check was 6 weeks after we put Bella on the medication and her levels jumped up right into the middle of the healthy range and have remained there ever since.
She's been on a very low dose of the medication for a year now and many of her other 'symptoms' have faded in that time including her itchy, flaky skin and dry brittle coat. I don't think Bella's ever going to have a normal constitution but overall, that has improved as well.
|Oooooh my gawd, shut up and let me eat already!|
While I consider everything we've done a contributing factor to Bella's overall well-being, this was an easy win and we'll take it. The moral of the story to me is: never stop questioning. If someone tells you your dog is okay but you think they're not, seek a second opinion. You are your dog's best advocate.
I know there's at least one other Bella out there in Blog-land who suffers from hypothyroidism. Is anyone else dealing with it, too? Do you have any advice you'd like to share? We are always interested in hearing your stories and tips.
For more information about hypothyroidism and behavior problems in dogs, see Dr. Dodman's Assessment of Hypothyroidism as a Factor in Behavior Problems.