Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hypothyroidism is no reason not to adopt a dog; Roseanne's story

Roseanne has hypothyroidism
and is available for adoption to
an understanding family.
The Auburn University School of Pharmacy estimates 3 to 8 percent of the American human population have hypothyroidism, and the incidence increases with age. I was surprised by this number because when I conduct a poll among friends and acquaintances the percentage seems much higher. Everybody I asked seems to be on thyroid medication. So I'm hoping Roseanne's story finds an empathetic audience.

Roseanne is a 7-year-old female Labrador Retriever mix surrendered to YHS by her owner because of Roseanne's medical condition. This happened on Saturday, June 17. From day one, Roseanne captured the heart of employees and volunteers alike. To say Roseanne has personality is an understatement. In fact, she is borderline mischievous - with a heart of gold.

Roseanne is the most popular dog at YHS. Everybody who meets her wants to adopt her on the spot. That is, until they learn she has hypothyroidism.

The YHS medical team diagnosed Roseanne's hypothyroidism after noticing a slight head tilt that gradually became worse. Hypothyroidism is a common disease in dogs and occurs when the thyroid gland produces insufficient hormones to regulate the metabolism. This causes a variety of symptoms including weight gain or obesity, hair loss and skin problems. Most hypothyroid dogs respond readily to treatment.

Roseanne has been on treatment (a pill in his food morning and night) for several weeks and her desire to play and be more active is palpable; and her coat has improved too. Many dogs suffer from a low thyroid hormone level for years without treatment. If your dog has recurrent skin problems, or unexplained weight gain, she may be suffering from hypothyroidism and you should talk with your veterinarian.

Although the onset of clinical signs is variable, hypothyroidism most commonly develops in middle-aged dogs between the ages of 4-to-10 years. The disorder usually affects mid- to large-size breeds, and is rare in toy and miniature breeds. Breeds that appear predisposed to the condition include the Golden Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, Irish Setter, Miniature Schnauzer, Dachshund, Cocker Spaniel and Airedale Terrier. German Shepherds and mixed breeds appear to be at a reduced risk for contracting the disease.

Hypothyroidism in dogs is easy to treat. Treatment consists of placing the dog on a daily dose of a synthetic thyroid hormone called thyroxine (levothyroxine). The dose and frequency of administration of this drug varies depending on the severity of the disease and the individual response of the dog to the drug. A dog is usually placed on a standard dose for her weight and blood samples are drawn periodically to check her response and then the dose is adjusted accordingly. Once therapy is started, the dog will need to be on treatment for the rest of her life. Usually after the treatment is started, the majority of the symptoms resolve.

Roseanne's improvement is obvious; she lost 17 pounds, weighing in now at a svelte 79 pounds. Her head tilt has also vanished. She is ready to be adopted into an understanding home. If you are interested in adopting Roseanne, come by YHS at 1625 Sundog Ranch Road in Prescott, off the Prescott Parkway for a get acquainted meeting. Roseanne is a senior dog so adoption fees are waived for citizens 59 years of age; $40 for all others.

If you would like to make sure dogs like Roseanne get the medical care and treatment they need, please make a donation to the Yavapai Humane Society Special Treatment And Recovery (STAR) program. You can send your donation on-line at or by mail to 1625 Sundog Ranch Road, Prescott, AZ 86301.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.