A dog's life

It has often been claimed (here and elsewhere) that vets are better at handling thyroid issues than doctors. I happened across this link the other day and, after some vacillation, have decided to post a link.

Don't blindly take this as being applicable to humans! It is for interest and comparison - not advice on treating yourself.

In hypothyroidism, impaired production and secretion of the thyroid hormones result in a decreased metabolic rate. This disorder is most common in dogs but also develops rarely in other species, including cats, horses, and other large, domestic animals.


22 Replies

  • Just for interest, there is a version of the MSD Manual for Medical Professionals (i.e. for humans), and there is a version for the non-medical public :



    And both versions of the manual have a link about hypothyroidism on the front page at the moment.



    (I haven't read them yet.)

  • It seems there's greater understanding of various types critter diagnosis, than the one species our endocrinologists fail to comprehend.

  • Two of our cats succumbed to thyroid disease, the test is awful, a needle down the neck into the gland. Poor kitties.

  • Can't you do blood tests on cats, then?

  • Yes, but my vet would only do FT4 and TSH not FT3. The result was that cat was not hyper.

  • Well, my experience with hypo in dogs is rather limited, it's true. But, it took me three visits and two different vets to get a diagnosis. The first vet laughed in my face and more or less told me I was too stupid to know I was over-feeding my dog. He also claimed that hypo dogs have ravenous appetites, so my dog couldn't be hypo because he wouldn't eat (er... is it just me, or is there a soupçon of contradiction in those to statements, made in the same breath?)

    The second vet at least gave him a blood test, when I suggested that he had an under-active thyroid, but obviously knows nothing about it. I wouldn't want either of them treating me!

  • I had exactly the same experience as you greygoose. I had a Golden Retriever girl who had hypothyroidism that started when she was just 2 years old. First vet laughed at me when I suggested she may have thyroid disease. I changed vet and the second vet took a blood test and confirmed my suspicions. She was on T4 until she died age almost 14. She was transformed on T4 from a lethargic dog not interested in going for walks, just wanting to lie next to radiators, to a lovely bouncy girl. I found out later from her breeder that her mother was also hypo.

    Not sure I have much faith in either vets or doctors!

  • Thank you for a most interesting article .

    I have decided to replace my GP with a vet! 😄

  • I always thought my dogs vet was better than most GPS. In fact I did ask him to sign me up.🤗

  • The same was true -is?- with narcolepsy! Better studied in dogs than humans.

  • I'm afraid dogs get it as bad if not worse than us in my experience. I have had to tell the vet that I think my dogs have got it - and they only do TSH (notoriously inaccurate for dogs with more than 1/4 testing within range that were actually hypothyroid with antibodies) and T4. You have to demand a full panel. One of my dogs probably died of it because despite obvious symptoms and endless visits to the vet it was never picked up on and I did not know then what I know now. She must have passed it on to her pups because they both developed it and eventually I realised what was up. They must have been bad as tests came back positive for it. I now have an unrelated one who seems to have it. A year ago I told them I was suspicious he had it, they ran tests and said he had a slow heartrate but tests were within range (TSH T4 only grrrr) . He has got worse and has started with fits and more symptoms all linking back to hypothyrodism. More blood tests and awaiting outcome. I shall demand a trial of hormone replacement if there is nothing conclusive. Even now they have not bothered to run antibody tests - unfortunately I wasn't able to take him in. It is doubly hard - they can't tell you how they feel so you have to notice things are not right and then have the ability to diagnose what it might be, then pursuade a vet what might be the problem and to do adequate tests for a correct diagnosis. How many dog owners would have that level of expertise? I very much doubt the claim it is one of the most overdiagnised conditions in dogs, it most certainly has not been my experience.

    Dodds is the pioneer vet whose work is worth reading on thyroid disorder in dogs. It sounds a lot like everything that is wrong in human endocrinology also holds true in animal diagnosis and treatment, although addition of T3 seems to be acceptable if T4 only treatment does not resolve problems where vets are concerned. No antidepressants seem to be mentioned anywhere.

    Here's a link to some of her articles:


    One thing re vets they are not fans of NDT but one of my hypo hounds did better on it that T4

  • What we see too often is a document or website, such as I linked to, which is much better than many human-medicine links, but reality does not measure up to it. It seems perhaps to be a lofty ideal, reached only in a handful of places/by a handful of vets, but most often entirely missed.

  • I aslo thought about visiting a gym and talking to a bodybuilder

  • Well, most of the steroids used there would be vetinary (or they used to be), Send us a photo of you after your winstrol/T3 stack ... Won't do your hair any good, though

  • That Dr Jean Dodds site is very reminiscent of here - prozac, biotin, ADHD, finding a vet who knows what they are doing, ...

  • My experience of diagnosis and treatment in my dog was much better than my own. I took him because my 16 kilo whippet cross had gained a kilo in a month despite a reduction in food. The vet commented that we had noticed a change in coat six months earlier and suggested he was hypo. Blood tests confirmed.

    The only problem really was that I was told to give the tablets with food. When I read Jean Dodds a couple of years later we started giving the tablets an hour before and he improved vastly, and his dose was reduced.

    The reason they generally test T4 is that dog's metabolism are much faster than humans, and T3 varies wildly through the day. It's a reasonable argument. Fortunately conversion problems are much rarer in dogs than in humans.

  • Ruthi but it misses 25% of dogs already known to have hypothyroidism! That is a good reason for antibody tests as a sensible addition and a full panel is easier to interpret than just two tests although I know T3 is not ideal in dogs it can still be helpful with other tests, TSH is even more unreliable in dogs than in us!

  • My cat had thyroid problems for years before he died, it cost a fortune to keep him well tabs were a £1 a day plus bloodtest couple time a Year, but would do it all again just to have him back.my daughter also had cat with same problem so obviously more common than people think.

  • couldn't agree more hevella

  • So for dogs TSH shouldn't be considered as golden standard and for 20-40 % hypothyroid dogs TSH falls nicely in range.

    I wonder how that sounds so familiar. .. oh but now I realised ! I have heard rumours that humans can be very hypo too with TSH in range.

    How weird, for human it means you are hypochondriac not hypothyroid. Dogs must be good at faking symptoms despite normal TSH.

  • Hyper-T is more common in cats and seems to be occurring more frequently. Environmental toxins are often suggested for this, e.g. fire retardants in foam bedding, Bisphenol-A in food tin linings, excessive iodine in the fish heads and guts which enter the pet food chain, etc.

    My last vet was excellent, but he gradually closed down his branch practice we attended in a village 6 miles away. A fairly new group practice has been gobbling up existing vet practices in my dale and the surrounding ones, as older vets retire. Cats are low in the priority list (livestock and working dogs trump cats) and the younger vets' knowledge of thyroid issues is as bad as the local human docs. They don't know, and won't accept, that T3 is the active hormone, they only test TT4, and on it goes.

  • Ah hellvella, reading this reminded me of the time I had just become a young mom. It was 1976!

    My mother in law did not discuss the content (probably not wanting to appear interfering), she just handed me a couple of booklets to read. I put them to one side never thinking I would read them. After all she had kept them for 25 years since (my husband her own son), was born! Then one day, my baby was unusually fretful. Nothing I did helped to settle her so cuddling her, I picked up one of the books. Then another. Baby finally went to sleep and I lay her in her pram. Before I read the final and third book, I knew I would be walking to the chemist.

    Each book had discussed baby ailments and fretful babies. Without exception, it was recommended that as such, they would benefit from soothing powders. Most importantly, these were deemed a safe product! A particular brand name was given. Contents were natural!

    I asked the chemist staff where I could find the product and was happily told they were in stock. Though, never requested, kept in a drawer behind the counter. I bought my first packet.

    My baby and subsequent babies (myself and my hubby), were the most content babie/parents one could wish for.

    The soothing powders were actually what are known today as teething powders. Full of natural stuff and meant to cool the blood. My friends (many, over the period of having 3 babies), commented that my babies were so content whilst theirs cried constantly with teething. I shared the 'secret' Mother in law had passed on. Astonishingly, there then became times the chemist was out of stock! Lol.

    Today, soothing powders are used a lot by all young moms, especially family and friends we come into contact with. Word certainly gets around.

    Why would your post bring this back to mind?

    I later learned that vets do recognise the importance of cooling the blood! (Somebody told me this, I read it or dreamed it! From that day, I really admired vets. Just as my baby couldn't explain what was wrong. Animals can't explain what they feel so it takes more dedication to understand and treat conditions). To this day, I don't know if it is a true statement. I wonder if anyone here knows the answer?

    Nevertheless, soothing powders I would recommend. I was fortunate my mother in law left those booklets.

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