by Barbara Andrews,
Misdiagnoses of low thyroid hormone
results in coat, skin, allergy, reproductive, and behavioral
problems because hypothyroidism weakens the immune system in dogs (and people)
leading to serious health problems.
Pekingese is in excellent heath as represented by his full glorious
coat. Dull, listless, thin hair coat, if combined with
behavioral changes can be a sure sign of low thyroid hormone.
Many professional handlers put the new dog on thyroid hormone
supplements if symptoms are present. They then test the dog to
confirm low thyroid hormone or any other contributing factors.
Symptoms of Canine Hypothyroidism
Poor hair coat, lethargy,
inattentiveness, and weight gain lead the list of symptoms. If the
dog has suffered with hypothyroidism for some time, there may be
thickening of the skin.
But there are other symptoms and a dog
may exhibit any or all of these classic signs of low thyroid hormone:
intolerance to cold, frequent ear infections, behavioral changes such as
unprovoked aggression, depression, obsessive behavior, even seizures.
Okay so what
to do about thyroid problems? In addition to complimentary and alternative
medicine (CAM), there is plain old fashioned common sense. For
instance, my friend in England had never heard of thyroid problems back
in the early eighties when
it was becoming common here. She fed meat to her own dogs and the
hundred-plus dogs in her quarantine station. She supplemented with
wheat-based “kibble” formulated specifically to balance a high meat
diet. Gradually though, the Brits, including my friend, Chairperson of
the TKC Breed Standards Committee and one of the most knowledgeable dog
people I’ve ever known, were swayed by the marketing and convenience of
“prepared” foods. Now they and their dogs, have the same thyroid
problems we’ve experienced for over two decades.
The point is that
for centuries, domesticated dogs ate hormone and chemical free, meat and table scraps.
Neither humans nor dogs suffered from the immune disorders so rampant
About forty years
ago, as fewer people baked, iodine was added to “store bought” bread.
One slice contained about 150 micrograms of iodine, the RDA amount.
Then the food industry decided to replace iodine with bromine, something
that belongs to a pretty scary group of elements that include fluorine,
chlorine, and of course, iodine.
But wait, bromine
doesn’t help the thyroid gland, in fact, it inhibits iodine’s activity!
When food producers stopped enriching grain products with iodine and
replaced it with an element that doesn’t work, it spelled trouble for
both people and dogs.
been added to table salt to counteract deficiencies but most "sea salt"
contains no iodine. Check labels. By all means, add a small
amount of salt when preparing fresh meat or vegetables. Salt will
NOT "cure" thyroid disease and excessive salt can cause other problems.
Okay so what can
you do for your dog? I hear you long-time breeders shouting “kelp!” If you want to
protect yourself and your dog, there are excellent kelp products. Brown
and red seaweeds such as kombu contain the most iodine. Visit a health
food store or an Asian market. It’s cheap, effective and comes in many
use Lugol’s solution, a nasty tasting iodine/iodide preparation that’s
been around forever. Or you could use Iodoral, a dried
Lugol’s solution that provides 12.5 mg of iodine/iodide.
Unused iodine will
be excreted in the urine which by the way, is an excellent but
little-used test for iodine deficiency. Note: If you have a dog with
mammary cancer, be SURE to supplement. In one human trial, 100% of
cancer patients tested iodine deficient!
Can Antibiotics Cause Hypothyroidism?
There are many factors that inhibit the production of thyroid hormone in mammals.
The most common inhibitors are certain antibiotics which, while they may
solve one problem, often create another. Before we and our dogs took so
much medication and ate so little “real” food, thyroid imbalance was a
negligible condition. Talk to your vet if the dog is on
any prescription medication.
A more frequent cause of low thyroid
output is fake food. The current “low
carb” craze is good only if we replace white sugars and grains with
something that has life and nutrients. The same science applies to the
canine population, now largely fed corn and beet pulp, i.e. sugar.
Back in the
eighties, I reported that cats were suddenly dying with previously
unknown heart and thyroid problems until a researcher tumbled to the
fact that cat food lacked taurine. It is coincidence that the critter
highest in taurine is a mouse? No… Cat food manufacturers hastened to
add taurine, solving that mystery and saving millions of cats.
Thyroid Hormone Medication
Do not take
your dog off thyroid medication without talking to your vet but
here’s the key. Whether vet or medical doctor, you may have to push for
sound advice and not just accept the “standard” answer
propagated by prescription drug manufacturers.
Here’s a classic example of getting a medical practitioner to put aside the
indoctrination of prescribed drugs. Blood thinners are
prescribed under many different pharmaceutical names but basically they
are warfarin, i.e. rat poison! Coumadin received a “black box” label warning in Oct. 2006 but is
still routinely used for chemo patients. Then on June 1, 2008, the FDA
updated its report of deaths associated with Heparin use, adding 86
more deaths in the United States.
Vitamin “E” is a
natural blood thinner with tremendously beneficial side effects
rather than adverse side effects. When pinned down, most doctors will
agree and remove the patient from warfarin-based prescriptions. As an
aside, "E" research was pioneered by Dr. Wilfred E. Shute, a Canadian
All Breed Judge... So, ask your vet if natural sources for iodine will
work to boost thyroid hormone and the immune system.
Also ask if thyroid supplementation can permanently depress thyroid
Hypothyroidism Be Genetic?
No, don't believe that. But
DNA developed or altered by a century of ingesting certain foods or by
chemical exposure can occur. Akitas, a
Japanese breed genetically “programmed” to eat iodine-rich seafood,
became so challenged on our western diet that thyroid problems were
rampant. Estrus cycles became flakey and non-productive. Males
suffered from low libido and/or sperm count and often became overly
I wondered why my dogs weren’t affected but it took a
visitor from Japan to turn on the light bulb. We had always added
fresh raw meat and supplemented
Sooo, that’s my
layman’s advise but discuss it with your vet
or as we did when my husband was battling cancer, ask your doctor.
I asked the Oncologist why he had prescribed Coumadin when they inserted
the porta-cath and he told Bill to not
take vitamins, particularly "E". He looked away, sighed and mumbled something about
protocol, then said "Yes it will. He can take "E" and stop the prescription."
Excerpts from ShowSight Magazine, 2008