Thyroid can alter behavior
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    Senior Member cshellenberger's Avatar
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    Thyroid can alter behavior

    THYROID CAN ALTER BEHAVIOR


    BIZARRE BEHAVIORAL CHANGES? CHECK YOUR


    DOG FOR HYPOTHYROIDISM



    By W. Jean Dodds, DVM
    As published in Dog World Vol. 77 No. 10, October 1992

    Abnormal behavior in dogs can have a variety of medical causes; it also can reflect underlying problems of a psychological nature. Your veterinarian follows a systematic diagnostic approach in searching for medical causes when a per exhibits unusual or unacceptable behavior. As summarized by Landsberg (Canadian Veterinary Journal, 31:225-227, 1990), this includes:

    1) a complete patient history;
    2) clinical examination and a neurological work-up;
    3) routine laboratory testing of complete blood count, blood biochemistry and thyroid profiles, urinalysis, fecal exam and X-ray;
    4) additional specific laboratory tests as indicated (e.g., other hormonal tests, bile acids, blood ammonia, glucose tolerance, immunological assays and tests for toxins, fungi and other infections;
    5) examination of cerebral spinal fluid; and
    6) more specialized neurological examinations such as an electroencephalography and computerized axial tomography scan.Diagnostic steps 1 through 3 are usually completed first; additional tests such as steps 4 through 6 are performed if indicated. If these test results prove to be negative, a veterinary behavior consultant or qualified pet behavior therapist should evaluate the dog.
    Inheritance has been shown to play an important part in the behavior of both animals and humans; Plomin recently reviewed its role (Science, 248:183-188, 1990). The genetic influence on behavioral disorders rarely accounts for more than half of the phenotypic expression of behavioral differences. Each of the multiple genes involved has a small effect on behavior. Newer techniques in molecular biology should permit the identification of the genetic DNA marker sequences responsible for behavioral variation.
    However, behavior is the most complex phenotype because it not only reflects the functioning of the whole organism, but it is dynamic and changes in response to environmental influences. With respect to animal behavior, applied behavioral genetics first was studied several thousand years ago because animals were bred and selected for their behavior as much as their conformation. The results can be attested to by the dramatic differences in behavior and physique among various dog breeds. Today these breeds have a great range of genetic and behavioral variability.
    In recent years, many investigators have noted the sudden onset of behavioral changes in dogs around the time of puberty. Most of the dogs have been purebreds or crossbreds with an apparent predilection for certain breeds (e.g., Golden Retrievers, Shetland Sheepdogs, German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels, Akitas, Doberman Pincschers and Rottweilers). Many of these dogs also had begun to show the seasonal effects of allergies to inhalants and ectoparasites such as fleas, followed by the onset of skin and coat disorders, including pyoderma, allergic dermatitis, alopecia and intense itching.
    A typical history starts out with a quiet, well-mannered and sweet natured puppy. The dog is outgoing, has attended puppy training classes to prepare for obedience, working or show events, and comes from a reputable breeder whose kennel has no history of behavioral problems.
    However, at the onset of puberty, which varies from seven months to a year in age, sudden major changes in personality are observed. Typical signs may include incessant whining, nervousness, schizoid behavior, fear in the presence of strangers, hyperventilation, undue sweating, occasional disorientation and failure to be attentive. These can progress to sudden unprovoked aggressiveness in unfamiliar situations with other animals and with people, especially children.
    The owners may attribute the problems to the sex hormonal changes accompanying puberty or just the uncertainties of adolescent development. Often these animals are neutered, which appears to alleviate the behavioral problems, specifically the aggression, for varying lengths of time. For a significant proportion of these animals, however, neutering does not alter the symptoms and they intensify progressively to the point that the adult can be described as flaky, unable to handle any kind of stress, frantically circling, hyperventilating and not able to settle down. Animals used for field work and tracking often fail to follow the scent, whereas those in obedience training may lose the scent articles. Their powers of concentration are often very short and so dogs that were training very successfully at obedience appear to lag behind in a disinterested fashion. With all of these changes in behavior, the problem of most concern is unwarranted aggression. When large breeds are affected it poses a significant hazard to family members, friends and strangers.
    In some cases affected animals do not show aggression but become very shy and fearful to the point that they are social outcasts and do not make acceptable house pets. These animals clearly are not suitable for show, obedience or working purposes. Some of these dogs will show extremely submissive behavior, roll over and urinate upon being approached.
    The third group of dogs showing aberrant behavior consists of those that experience seizure or seizure-like disorders beginning in puberty and continuing to mid-life. These are dogs that appear perfectly healthy outwardly and have normal hair coats and energy, but suddenly experience seizures for no apparent reason. The seizures are often spaced several weeks to months apart, and occasionally they appear in a brief cluster. In some cases the animals become aggressive and attack those around them shortly before or after having one of these seizure episodes.

    (continued)




    Last edited by cshellenberger; 09-05-2010 at 09:37 AM.
    Carla
    "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control" Proverbs 29:11
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    Senior Member cshellenberger's Avatar
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    The number of dogs showing various types of abnormal behavior in these three classical modes (aggression, extreme shyness or seizure-like activity) has been increasing over the last decade. Veterinary colleagues have remarked that in recent years some young dogs have become completely unacceptable because of bizarre, sudden behavioral changes. Consequently, we began to examine these animals by using the stepwise diagnostic approach outlined previously. The importance of performing complete laboratory profiles in the blood and urine, with specific emphasis on thyroid hormonal function was stressed.
    We were surprised to find that in many of the cases studied, significant abnormalities were found in the thyroid profile. Some cases also had changes in the liver enzyme patterns, specifically with abnormal increases in pre and post meal bile acids and elevated gamma glutamyl transerase levels. About 10 percent of these young dogs had abnormalities of the liver profile and a few also had changes in renal function. For the majority, however, the primary abnormality was attributable to abnormal thyroid function. This thyroid dysfunction would classically express high levels of T3 and T4 autoantibodies with an artifactual, apparent elevation of total T3 level. It would not be uncommon to find circulating total T3 levels that read as much as 3,000 to 5,000 nanograms per deciliter. While not all of the affected animals had documented evidence of T3 and T4 autoantibodies, some of these had positive antithyroglobulin antibody tests. In either event, the diagnosis was confirmed as autoimmune thyroiditis.
    The autoimmune thyroid disease present in these patients apparently is inducing some type of physiological change at the cellular lever, which leads to the aberrant behavior. This supposition can be made with some assurance because treatment of thyroiditis of these dogs with appropriate doses of thyroid replacement hormone given twice daily along with a one-month tapering course of low-dose corticosteroids, has successfully reversed the behavioral problems within four to eight weeks. Dramatic changes in behavior have been recognized in a few cases as early as after 10 days of therapy.
    By contrast, it usually takes five to seven months of thyroid replacement therapy to effect complete disappearance of the circulating antithyroid antibodies. These dogs should be maintained for life on the appropriate dose of thyroid hormone, which may need to be adjusted periodically.
    Another subset of affected dogs consists of those that do not have demonstrable antithyroid antibodies but have baseline thyroid profiles that are clearly abnormal. In these cases, levels of total T4, total T3, free T4 and free T3 are usually well below the lowest limits of the adult normal ranges or are in the low normal or borderline ranges. The latter situation is of particular significance in young dogs of nine to 15 months of age. When these dogs are treated with standard doses of thyroid replacement therapy (0.1 milliliter per 10 pound of body weight, given twice daily) the clinical signs associated with abnormal behavior rapidly resolve.
    To date (October 1992) more than 25 animals have been diagnosed as having thyroid imbalance as the major, if not exclusive, cause of their behavioral abnormalities. Some of these animals have been followed for as long as three years and are still exhibiting anormal behavior. Animals on therapy have returned successfully to obedience activities, completed show championships and undertaken active field and tracking work.
    Here are two case studies as examples:
    In the first, a four-year-old male Akita, weighing 110 pounds, suddenly attacked his owner and bit her in the face. The dog had been owned by the same family since early puppyhood and had been a remarkably even tempered, well-behaved and non-aggressive pet with people and other animals. After seeking the advice of two different veterinary clinicians and a major teaching hospital, the owner was about to give up in despair because no physical abnormalities could be found.
    She was referred to us by an Akita rescue group, as this pattern of behavioral change has been associated with thyroid dysfunction in the breed. A complete thyroid panel which had not been performed earlier, was suggested and the dog was found to be hypothyroid. Thyroid therapy was initiated on a twice-daily basis. The dog's exemplary temperament returned and he has not shown any unusual behavior for more than a year. An interesting additional complication of the case was a moderately severe thrombocytopenia which also resolved with low doses of alternate-day steroid therapy and thyroid medication.
    In the second, a nine month old male Shetland Sheepdog from excellent show-quality bloodlines suddenly became frantic and fearful. Acting intermittently, as if his vision were impaired, he attacked a toddler in the owner's home. A complete physical examination was given and laboratory testing done; a routine check for T4 was borderline normal. The dog's abnormal behavior appeared to resolve, but soon reappeared.
    After a second attack the dog had a complete thyroid profile done at Michigan State University's Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory. The total T4 was 44 nmol/1; total T3 was 0 nmol/1; free T4 was 2 pmol/1; free T3 was >20 pmol/1; T4 autoantibody was 18 and T3 autoantibody was 85. The referring veterinarian did not realize that the results were consistent with autoimmune thyroiditis and the dog was not treated. Two months later the dog attacked another person and a second thyroid profile was sent to the Michigan State Laboratory. The second profile showed a total T4 of 29 nmol/1; total T3 of 0 nmol/1; free T4 of 25 pmol/1; free T3 of >20 pmol/1; T4 autoantibody of 48 and T3 autoantibody of 91. Consultation with our group was made at this point.
    The dog had a previous history of facial demodectic mange; because corticosteroids are not recommended with demodecosis, the treatment consisted for a full therapeutic dose of T4 thyroid supplement at 0.1 milligram per 10 pounds and a one-third dose of T3 thyroid supplement at 1 microgram per pound, both given twice daily. The rationale for treating with both T4 and T3 supplements in this case was to attempt to normalize the thyroid axis as quickly as possible to avoid danger to family members. At the time of this writing the dog's behavioral aggression has subsided.
    For those animals that show occasional seizure disorders, thyroid medication alone usually will suffice. Anticonvulsant medication is needed along with the thyroid therapy to control cases with more severe seizure clusters. The anticonvulsants of choice would be phenobarbital or, alternatively, sodium bromide, particularly if the patient has abnormalities of liver function.
    Because many of these animals have autoimmune thyroid disease, concomitant medical management includes avoiding environmental factors that can further challenge the immune system. This means placing the animal on a hypoallergenic "natural" diet preserved with vitamins E and C (e.g., lamb and rice based lower-protein kibble without added chemical preservatives); avoiding drugs such as the potentiated sulfonamide antibiotics and monthly heartworm preventatives that may adversely affect the immune system in these susceptible dogs; and withholding vaccination boosters until the thyroid function is balanced properly and the behavioral abnormalities are resolved. If animals are due for annual vaccine boosters during this period, vaccine antibody titers for distemper and parvovirus can be determined.
    If your otherwise healthy young or adult dog experiences sudden behavioral changes, you should consult your vet and check for an underlying thyroid imbalance as shown by:
    1) The presence of thyroid autoantibodies
    2) Low or borderline levels of total T4, total T2 and Free T4 or
    3) Failure to triple baseline total T4 levels in response to challenge with thyroid-stimulating hormone.
    In our experience, the most predictive thyroid test parameters to identify these cases are 1 and 2, because the thyroid stimulating hormone response test just measures thyroid reserve, which remains adequate in the early stages of thyroid disease.



    Carla
    "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control" Proverbs 29:11
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    Senior Member Cracker's Avatar
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    Awesome, Carla. Thanks so much for finding and posting this. It is especially important to note that the dog does NOT have to show overt gross signs like weight gain/loss and hair loss to be hypothyroid and also that low normal when combined with other "minor" symptoms can still need treatment.

    One of my client dogs (now passed to the bridge) had behaviour changes happen suddenly, an increase in anxiety and he was hiding and reactive. His Thyroid was low normal and his vet didn't think it was a big deal. I pushed the owner to put him on thyroxin for a while to see if it would change his emotional state at all, so she insisted we try it. Four weeks later he was back to his normal, cool GR state.

    People underestimate how important our thyroid and adrenal gland function is in relating to mood and behaviour, aside from all the physical important things it does.

    BTW, Dr. Gary Landsberg is the vet behaviourist I refer to. I am so lucky to have been able to attend consults with my clients and their dogs.
    Maggi and Cracker, Dog about Rosedale

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    Senior Member cshellenberger's Avatar
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    Indeed Cracker, many vets do NOT recognize that even Low/Normal thyroid can cause a dog to be behaviorally symptomatic, I've run into it myself with rescues I've dealt with.



    Carla
    "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control" Proverbs 29:11
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    Great article. I was interested in a rescue BC who was surrendered because his thyroid condition caused him to become dog-aggressive. He's still a great performance dog, and does not go out of his way to attack dogs, but the foster family absolutely will not leave him uncrated around other dogs and they believe he will always be dog aggressive. I asked a vet about this situation, and she felt the aggression was NOT caused by his thyroid problems, so yes, vets have varying opinions.
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    Good that you shared such an information.
    People usually do not know the right health tip or reasons of why their pet behave in a different manner.
    A common looking problem could be the dangerous one sometimes.
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    Hypothyroidism is a common disease in dogs, and is caused by low levels of the hormone thyroid. It can have a range of symptoms and can be challenging to diagnose, but is easily treated and the long term prognosis is very good. Hypothyroidism is most commonly seen in young to middle aged dogs, generally they are between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. More information on symptoms and treatment of hypothyroidism in dogs can be obtained from following sites.

    http://www.vet.uga.edu/VPP/clerk/bell/index.php
    http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/cliented/hypothyroidism.aspx

    It's better to mark the symptoms in preliminary stage otherwise the treatment of this disease may become more difficult.
    Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    My sister's dog had a thyroid problem which caused him to become increasingly aggressive before he went into renal failure.
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    very good information to know! thanks for posting the article!
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    Tupples, please make sure you link the site site where you cut/pasted this information from or I'll have to delete it as Plegerism.



    Carla
    "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control" Proverbs 29:11
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    Quote Originally Posted by cshellenberger View Post
    Tupples, please make sure you link the site site where you cut/pasted this information from or I'll have to delete it as Plegerism.
    And that would be terrible, because it is good information..plagiarized or not!
    I hope he/she comes back and fixes it.
    Maggi and Cracker, Dog about Rosedale

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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    My friend has a dog that has some problems with her thyroid. The dog is a bit older, we think about 12 or 13 years and she had started the strange behavior of panting continuously without any regard to the temperature of the room or outside air. A trip to the vet showed a tumor growing on the thyroid gland that was causing her body temperature to rise and it was deemed inoperable. She has lived a pretty comfortable life with this issue now for about two years though, so we feel like she’ll be ok.
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    Well thyroid can really affect the behaviour of dogs. If they are suffering from Hypothyroidism then dogs take time to come to their normal behaviour. Because it is a very serious disease which affects the brain of the dogs one should be careful with these dogs.
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    Very informative post, my buddy has a 11 year old lab with thyroid problems, and recently it has started to acted strangely, I'm going to refer him to this post, thanks for the info
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    Now I am thinking if one of my dogs got this condition. I better take him to the vet.
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    Thanks a ton for sharing this nice article. One of my dogs had a thyroid problem that caused him to become very aggressive. Is it a serous god health problem> How to deal with such condition?
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    As i know Thyroid is the most common endocrine skin disease in dogs-but it is still less common than other skin diseases. These tips and tricks are so good to beware dogs from this type of problems. This article is so good and useful for me to learn some more points about this problem.
    Karalist.com
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    thanks for the information that would really help many of the dog owners to make them more secured with the thyroid
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    Glo
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    Dear Carla, I am stunned! Here's my story: My brother had a Neo Mastiff, but he passed, so my mom asked me to take "Bella" she was 6 month old. I have rescued: A Belgian Mal, a Mini Pin and 4 Chis, so with 6 dogs of my own, I was very careful in the introductions. The Chis and the Mini Pin wouldn't care at all for her, but I ignored them. The Belgian Mal, Tanya, was careful, but after a couple of days they were playing tug o wars and slept in the same bed. They became friends. At this time I discovered that Bella had demodectic mange so the vet gave her ivomectin.

    Time goes by and one day out of the blue, Bella attacks two of the Chis. I was so scared! I hardly had time to take them away from her before she bit (killed?) them. So, I put a small metallic portable fence in my living room separating Bella and Tanya from the Chis. I must first say that I go out of the house one to four hours a week to get groceries, but not at the same time: 30 minutes here, 1 hour there, etc. I work at home so I am practically 90% of the time with them. I also live alone, so they rule my house in the good sense lol.

    So, here we are: Tanya and Bella together and separated by the chis. Everything fine and dandy. Tanya and Bella had a 4 hour playing time in the patio and then they came in for a nap, treats, etc. One day while I was bathing Tanya she screamed in pain. I stopped and looked carefully. She had a dime size hole where you could see the raw flesh. I immediately took care of her and inspected Bella. Bella had a scratch on her side, but nothing major. I came to the conclusion that they had a fight, so I separated them too. Now Tanya and the chis are together, and Bella alone. Keep in mind that they are seeing each other all the time, that I play w/them, pet them and care for them; they just can't be together. Everything is fine so far.

    In the meantime I'm on the second month of ivomectin for the DM. One day Bella was playing in the patio while I took Tanya out. I had Tanya by the leash. The moment I come in with Tanya, as I turn to close the gate, Bella jumps over Tanya, snatches the leash from my hands and attacks her. I immediately grabbed Bella's collar and started pulling. The more I pulled the harder she bit. Tanya is bleeding, screaming in pain, pinned to the floor unable to defend herself. I kicked Bella, pulled her ears, pulled her nozzle and nothing so I just started pulling the chain until she started to choke and asphyxiate. She finally let Tanya go. I put Bella in the kennel and started to take care of Tanya's lesions. OMG! She had a hole on the neck, about a the diameter of a pencil. Smaller than the other one, but this was bleeding. She had a bad scratch on the ear and lots of peeled skin on the head where Bella had gnawed! I took care of Tanya. She's fine now. So now, here we are:Same thing, all separated from Bella, but now if I have to go to the bathroom, first I have to take Bella to the patio. If I go to the kitchen, the same. If I go to another room, take her to the patio. OK so far, it is stressing, but I can live with that.

    By tis time Bella is 10 months old. A week ago I was watching the TV and Bella ran over the fence and jumped over Tanya! No provocation whatsoever! I barely had time to get between them and stop her from attacking Tanya again. There is a post in this forum. If you are interested to see everything I did, you can read it. It's called: "My Neapolitan Mastiff is making my life a LIVING HELL!!!!!"

    At this point I had done everything possible! So an angel in the forum, Reynosa, said she would take Bella in her rescue. Later she said that she had found a good family for Bella and yesterday, this family came to pick up Bella. They are adorable! I cried a lot and I miss her, but my house is peaceful like it was before. Now, the new owner knows everything. I would not hide something like this from her and I read your post today Carla, so what do you advise? Thank you for reading me.
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    Re: Thyroid can alter behavior

    I totally agree with your idea and thinking, Doctor because the facts that which you have provided are up-to the mark. I really want to know about the treatments which can be easily offered and also being provided or available.
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