Cayco is a beautiful 5 year old Golden Doodle who is owned by the wonderful Miskimins family. She has been a patient of Headon Forest Animal Hospital since she was a puppy. Cayco’s owners noticed that she was not herself and had decreased energy and she did not want to go for her evening walks. Her appetite was also reduced and her owners were very concerned that she was sick. Dr Carolyn Martin examined Cayco and found that Cayco was overweight and her heart rate was low. Cayco had gained about 2 kilograms (about 4.5 pounds) in 3 months. Dr Martin recommended some blood work for Cayco especially to test her thyroid function. Cayco’s blood work revealed that she had a disease called hypothyroidism. This disease is common is large breed dogs (especially Golden and Labrador Retrievers). The thyroid gland plays a very important role in regulating the body’s metabolism. It is located in the neck near the trachea (windpipe). In dogs with hypothyroidism, the immune system causes destruction of the cells in the thyroid gland causing thyroid hormone to be produced in very small amounts. This causes the affected dog to gain weight, act tired and not want to eat. They may also seek areas of warmth. On physical exam, a veterinarian may notice a low heart rate, weight gain and sometimes, poor hair coat and dark skin. Blood work will often reveal a low red blood cell count (anemia) and high cholesterol. Free T4 levels will be low. Free T4 is the thyroid hormone we measure in the blood. If the thyroid level is low, we will ask the lab to also run a TSH level. If this level is high then we have a confirmation of hypothyroidism. This disease is very easy to treat; we simply supplement the pet with thyroid hormone pills. The pet is on the medication for the rest of his/her life. We take a blood sample for a thyroid level 4-6 weeks after starting the medication, then if the levels have normalized we check the free T4 every 6 months to make sure that the pet is getting the right amount of medication. Sometimes we need to change the amount of medication as the pet ages.
Cayco was started on thyroid medication and after 2 weeks Mrs. Miskimins noticed a difference in her attitude. She has energy like a puppy and they even noticed her eyes were brighter! Cayco came in for a recheck of her thyroid level and it was perfect! She even lost about 2 kilograms. We at Headon Forest are very happy with how she is doing and we are thankful to have such dedicated pet parents like the Miskimins family.