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Thyroid Debate?

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I have an older male grey who will be 10 this march. He is a happy healthy-looking dog. He does 1-2 walks per day and has a healthy appetite. He is also a food mooch. We feed Purina Pro-Plan chicken and rice, which our rescue prefers. We add in yogurt and pumpkin which seem to keep his deposits nice and solid. We get 1-4 good deposits from him a day, depending on how much he walks. He doesn't like the heat and his appetite and exercise levels are lower in the summer and perk up in the fall every year.


The 2 main health things we've dealt with for Shadow have been his arthritis (mostly in back legs--they shake if he stands still too long) and a toenail problem. He has unusually thick nails (vet said, "like horse hooves") and on 3 separate occasions he has pulled off a toenail. In all 3 cases, it grey back, fairly normally. We asked about SLO but she said his nail beds don't look angry, the nails grew back, don't look "funky", and she would prescribe Omega 3 supplements if it were SLO. She thinks it would be unnecessary surgery to remove a dewclaw or toe for definitive SLO diagnosis and he's doing well on the fish oil.


He takes the fish oil supplements and a powdered glucosamine, chondriotin and MSM for the arthritis. Both of those seem to have reduced the back leg shakiness, his coat is awesomely full and shiny (vet noted, "You have a very fuzzy butt! Good for you, dog!") and the nails seem to be doing ok now that we keep them very short and supplement with fish oil--capsules in AM and drizzle of cod liver oil in PM.


We went to a new vet and she said thyroid issues could also cause nail problems, and that his thyroid was low (.7). We went to the more grey-savvy vet at our new practice 2 months later and she ran a full panel, and said his T4 dropped to .5 and his TSH was .5 which she considered high (she said no higher than .4). She said she's aware greys tend to have a lower range or normal with thyroid, but she considers anything lower than 1.0 to be low, even for a greyhound. She said the elevated TSH indicates his body needs more T4 and is asking for it, but he isn't able to produce enough.


I know it's common to overmedicate greyhounds of thyroid, but he is dropping to the bottom of the range, even for his breed. He is about the age stuff like this will happen. I have read horror stories about thyroid hormones causing behavioral issues and I'm fretful about this. I don't want to withhold something he might need, but I don't want to "ruin" the best dog in the world--really he is so good, mellow and lovey, and very patient with my hyperactive nieces and nephews (although I watch them like a hawk when they visit).


The other issue, is other than dandruff, which we attribute to his habit of parking his tush in front of the forced air vents on the floor, he seems totally fine. Husband read on one greyhound site that thyroid supplementation could help with arthritis. I looked up symptoms of low thyroid:


  • Lethargy -NO. (he gets up for treats, walks and has a few bursts of squeaky-toy sassy a day)
  • Generalized weakness NO- although with arthritis, his back end isn't as spry as it used to be
  • Inactivity NO He still is at the kitchen entrance whenever there is cooking noises, although a true grey he naps on and off all day.
  • Mental dullness ??? He's an athlete, not a scholar. ;-) But smart as a whip if it involves food.
  • Unexplained weight gain NO He *lost* weight not gained-He's 70 lbs now, his racing weight was 75. He seems to have fluctuated between 70-73 over the past few years.
  • Hair loss (alopecia) He sheds 2x a year, but remaining coat is thick and full.
  • Excessive hair shedding ??? How would you know? He does shed, but damn if he isn't growing in more. I wonder how he isn't bald with all I find in the dryer lint trap, but I didn't grow up with dogs. Husband says he's par for the course.
  • Poor hair growth NO
  • Dry or lusterless hair coat NO. Quite shiny, actually.
  • Excessive scaling ?? Dandruff mostly on hind end, what's excessive?
  • Recurring skin infections NO
  • Intolerance to cold NO He doesn't do well in heat, he perks up in colder weather.
  • Tilting of head to one side (uncommon) NO (Well, only if he has an ear goober, clears up after a cleaning with q-tips)
  • Seizures (uncommon) NO
  • Infertility (uncommon) He's fixed.

So fellow greytalkers, what do you think? Just because they get over-diagnosed with low thyroid doesn't mean they can't get it. Should I proceed with caution? Anything I should know about dosage? If we wait, could this cause him health problems? Will this make him aggressive? Is that a myth? I want to do the right thing for my sweet boy.

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Here's another read for you that will either help or further confuse: http://www.greythealth.com/hypothyroid.html


Hada the podenco maneta, Georgie Girl (UMR Cordella), Lulu the podenco andaluz, Rita the podenco maneta
Angels: Charlie the iggy,  Mazy (CBR Crazy Girl), Potato, my mystery ibizan girl, Allen (M's Pretty Boy), Percy (Fast But True), Mikey (Doray's Patuti), Pudge le mutt, Tessa the iggy, Possum (Apostle), Gracie (Dusty Lady), Harold (Slatex Harold), "Cousin" Simon our step-iggy, Little Dude the iggy ,Bandit (Bb Blue Jay), Niña the galgo, Wally (Allen Hogg), Thane (Pog Mo Thoine), Oliver (JJ Special Agent), Comet, & Rosie our original mutt.

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Glad you seemed to do your homework-yea! Looking at your hounds thyroid results I have to agree with your vet-creeping into the hypoT zone. Not sure I buy the whole toenail thing but bloods don't lie. It appears that your vet used Idexx lab. The reason I said your hound is edging towards hypoT is because the cTSH is just over the "normal" range. For example one of my girls was truly hypoT --her cTSH was 5.0! I'm not implying you shouldn't supplement but, you may want to run a full thyroid panel through Michigan State. They run the gold standard test. It will be money well spent if you can supplement or not with confidence.

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Guest normaandburrell

My first grey ran low thyroid even for the breed. My vet said he didn't look hypothyroid and left him alone. I would share your concerns about overtreating.

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I had a greyhound with a reading of 0.2 that was "normal" for him. He actually came to us already on thyroid. He was hyper, had no hair, couldn't concentrate, couldn't add a pound to his skinny frame, and had super dry skin. It was several years before we found GT and it occurred to us that he could be getting over-medicated. We stopped supplementation and within a couple months he was a nice, calm greyhound. He actually gained weight and his skin cleared up, and he grew some hair on his completely bald butt. His thyroid reading taking a supplement was only 1.6-7 - just barely in the normal range. After, it was the 0.2 reading and he was totally fine. There wasn't an aggressive bone in his body before or after.


Most greyhounds aren't really hypothyroid, no matter what their readings are. The only way to tell for certain if your dog needs supplementation is to run the full panel through Michigan State or another one that is as detailed. If he *does* need thyroid he probably won't become aggressive. (It's usually the lack of thyroid that causes aggression.) Delaying medication if he needs it is always tricky, but over-medicating with thyroid can cause more problems.


FWIW, if he doesn't pop his toenails off very often, I probably wouldn't worry about it. I've never heard that thyroid will help with arthritis. It sounds like it might be time for an nsaid or maybe gabapentin to help with some of his hind end weakness.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)


Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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I think most of us would consider Dr. Couto the expert on Greyhound health, and he says he has never treated a TRULY hypothyroid Greyhound.


The behavior issues oft discussed on this forum as possible bad thyroid symptoms are not considered symptoms of thyroid problems. Those are what they call "anecdotal."


My family had TWO dogs with thyroid troubles--a mutt, and an English Setter. And my mother had her thyroid removed. Other than Mom being a bit of a nut, trust me, none of them exhibited odd behavior. Just bad skin/fur issues.


Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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  • 2 months later...

OK, try this one. Free T4 is 9, using the 8-40 range and TSH is 0.15 with the 0.0 - 0.60 range being used. His total T4 is less than 0.5. I don't want to medicate unnecessarily, but I also want to do right by my boy. He is nekkid, nekkid, nekkid, which I couldn't care less about, but is cold intolerant and much less active than my other two. Do I request even more testing? She recommended to supplement with 0.6 once a day. Maverick will be 9 in July, if that makes any difference. He eats and drinks with wild abandon, though!


Ugh. So confused. TIA


Cindy with Miss Fancypants, Paris Bueller, Zeke, and Angus 
Dante (Dg's Boyd), Zoe (In a While), Brady (Devilish Effect), Goose (BG Shotgun), Maverick (BG ShoMe), Maggie (All Trades Jax), Sherman (LNB Herman Bad) and Indy (BYB whippet) forever in my heart
The flame that burns the brightest, burns the fastest and leaves the biggest shadow

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What's his weight like, Cindy? If he's eating well and eagerly, yet is still skinny OR holds on to pounds, there might be some metabolic/thyroid issues that could be helped by meds. Toni eats like a trucker, anything and everything put in front of her. But I only have to adjust her food by a 1/2 cup either way to get her to gain or lose weight. Most greyhounds I have had are the same way - except for the one dog that had thyroid issues. I really had to work to get him to drop weight. He did benefit from supplementation, but his reading weren't that dissimilar to Maverick's.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)


Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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