An interview with Dr. W. Jean Dodds, DVM,
author of The Canine Thyroid Epidemic, Answers You Need for Your Dog
by Carol Petersen, RPh CNP
When breeding animals for desirable traits, sometimes the less desirable genes can become predominant. Consequently, according to an interview with Dr. Dodds at The Thyroid Summit, somewhere between 20 and 50 breeds of dogs now have a higher risk of developing autoimmune thyroiditis, which is akin to Hashimoto's disease in humans.
Hypothyroidism doesn't develop overnight; hence owners, and even veterinarians, may not realize it has taken hold at first. Dr. Dodds says to look for changes in behavior, or unexplainable weight gain could also be a sign. If something seems "off" with the pet, take a picture or video when you notice it to document it and watch for changes over time. Warning behaviors can include licking the feet or chewing at a certain spot in the skin, so much so that hair loss occurs.
The thyroid controls the metabolic rate in both humans and dogs. But understanding what normal thyroid activity is for dogs is a lot more complicated than it is for humans. In addition, there are differences among breeds, as well as among dogs of different weights and ages. Not all dogs can be treated in the same way.
Dr. Dodds believes that the overuse of iodine in some dog food products is partly responsible for the rise in autoimmune thyroiditis. In the last 15 years, the major dog food producers have increased the amount of iodine in their products, while the incidence of hypothyroidism in dogs is also increasing, even though the intent for adding the iodine was to help decrease the incidence. Dr. Dodds cites research done in South America that suggests that too much iodine can actually activate thyroiditis. She claims that there has to be enough iodine in the diet, but not too much.
Talking With PHP Pete
Dear PHP Pete,
My Dog, Chester is in misery. Chester is my mixed breed rescue dog with a strong retriever look. He was stuck in the shelter for over nine months before we found each other. I think he is trying to make up for time lost in a cage because every chance he gets he loves to run. He does not let underbrush or tall grass stop him; he simply bounds through it all! Usually he has a soft pink belly but recently I noticed some red irritated skin on his belly which he keeps scratching constantly. I know he does not have fleas. We have bonded so strongly that I think he may have decided to share my allergies, could this be possible? I am usually sneezing and Chester is usually itching. I am afraid we are chasing away potential friends at the local dog park. Do you have any suggestions to help Chester?
Dear Chester's Dad,
PHP Pete understands all about socializing at the local dog park and tag-team sneezing/itching is not going to make either of you any new friends! Allergies for dogs can be a problem. You should take Chester to visit your local veterinarian. One idea you may want to share with your veterinarian is a medication Pet Health Pharmacy can compound called oclacitinib.
As far as your allergies go for you, Chester's Dad: PHP Pete is sympathetic and hopes for a hard freeze soon if you are in a cold climate or that you have patience and a favorite tissue box if you are in a warm climate!
Here is the information you can share with your veterinarian:
oclacitinib: for the control of pruritus and associated skin lesions in dogs with canine allergic dermatitis.
Some examples of strengths of oclacitinib we compound are:
1.8mg, 2.7mg, 3.8mg, 5.7mg, and 8mg.
Please call Pet Health Pharmacy for additional information: 800.742.0516
*Compounded oclacitinib is shipped overnight on ice. Also, compounded oclacitinib must be stored in the fridge for short term use(days to weeks) and should be stored in the freezer for long term storage(months).
Reference: Cosgrove, S. B., Wren, J. A., Cleaver, D. M., Martin, D. D., Walsh, K. F., Harfst, J. A., Follis, S. L., King, V. L., Boucher, J. F. and Stegemann, M. R. (2013), Efficacy and safety of oclacitinib for the control of pruritus and associated skin lesions in dogs with canine allergic dermatitis. Veterinary Dermatology, 24: 479-e114. doi: 10.1111/vde.12047