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Discussion Starter #1
I'm going to ask our vet to test Riley's thyroid when he goes in for his annual next week.
I know there's a difference between a thyroid test and a full thyroid panel, right? Do I need to ask for something, specifically, to make sure he gets the works?
Is there a specific lab I should request? And does he need to be fasted for any length of time before the test?
When they tested Gunner's, I was in such a fog from his other problems that I don't remember what they did, or didn't do.
 

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You need to ask for a full panel and make sure the doctor sends it to either Michigan State or Dr. Dobbs for analysis - I know that mine doesn't trust local labs for Thyroid in particular. When I had my dog tested he did not fast as far as I remember.

One thing to be aware of and you might already know this. The general protocol for goldens is to treat for low normal thyroid. At the very least your vet should give you the option, there are some out there that will just say it's normal and it's ok.
 

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In the Moment
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No fasting required. Dr Dodds does a full panel ( the 5 tests.... T3, free T3, T4, free T4 and the autoimmune antibodies) for around $70. Most important, it comes with her interpretation to you and your vet. What we do is have our vet draw the blood and spin it to serum. Then I take and send to Dr Dodds UPS ( doesn't need to be refrigerated). A day or two after she receives it, you get your report and her interpretation. WELL worth the $ IMO.

You can read all about how to do it at her site: www.hemopet.com

And most important, many vets don't realize that low normal for a golden is actually low and needs supplementation. Dr Dodds factors in breed, age, sex ( neutered/spayed?) in her interpretation and recommendation as far as meds/doseage. Can you tell we've been down this road??? lol For us, it turns out Penny is fine, Maggie needs supplementation.... she was low across the board. It didn't show on her T4 alone.
 

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Kate
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1. Don't let your vet talk you out of it. <- Mine didn't see any concerns in my guy's behavior or appearance and tried talking me out of the complete panel.

2. Make sure they do the full panel. <- Mine does it as a matter of course. The other test they only do for rechecks every 6 months.

3. Be prepared to spend $120 or so for the full panel. The other test is only $50.

4. When they get the results back, ask for a copy for your records. And ask if you can come in and have the vet go over the numbers with you in person. This way you can ask questions and bring up the low normal thing if it seems the numbers are on the lower end.
 

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Our vet does require a fasting panel for any thyroid testing. They use MSU for their panels BTW. Check with your vet first regarding fasting requirements. If they are drawing blood at the same time for a wellness panel you need to fast anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks, everyone!

I'll check with him about the fasting issue.

No, I won't let him talk me out of doing it. It's probably fine. (I'll be a little surprised if it isn't.) But I'd rather be sure. Luckily, our vet is pretty good about things like that. He'll tell me if he thinks something isn't necessary, but he always tells me that it's my money and my peace of mind, so if I want to part with one in favor of the other, he'll go along with it.

Are there any drawbacks to starting the medication if it is in the 'low normal' range? I've learned from this forum that low normal is low for a Golden, but I'm always leery of over-medicating, too. Are there any risks or side effects to consider?
 

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Thanks, everyone!

I'll check with him about the fasting issue.

No, I won't let him talk me out of doing it. It's probably fine. (I'll be a little surprised if it isn't.) But I'd rather be sure. Luckily, our vet is pretty good about things like that. He'll tell me if he thinks something isn't necessary, but he always tells me that it's my money and my peace of mind, so if I want to part with one in favor of the other, he'll go along with it.

Are there any drawbacks to starting the medication if it is in the 'low normal' range? I've learned from this forum that low normal is low for a Golden, but I'm always leery of over-medicating, too. Are there any risks or side effects to consider?
There could be some drawbacks if you start him on supplementation and he really isn't hypothyroid. You don't want a normal dog getting too high a dose because then they become hyperthyroid that can lead to some other issues. That's why they usually recommend a retest of some sort (our vet does a thyroid absorption post-pill test) to recheck levels. If his level goes sky-high at the recheck then you can either lower the dosage and recheck or possibly take him off. If you use MSU they sometimes say the dog is euthyroid (I think that's the term), meaning the level is low because of some non-thyroid condition. When we first did Toby he was in that gray area and he got a euthyroid diagnosis, but I convinced his vet to do a trial run of a couple of months with a retest and when we did he came in solid normal levels. She decided to keep him on it because his weight normalized (he was chubby back then) and his coat improved dramatically on the supplement. I reported to her that his energy levels were more normal (which is high energy for him). At the next big recheck his levels were extremely low so we increased his dosage. She believed we caught him at the earliest beginnings of the disease. Over the years his levels bounced depending on the seasons but consistent bouncing--higher in the winter/cooler months and lower in the warmer months. As a result we recheck quarterly and adjust accordingly. He is entering the months when we can lower his dosage a bit.
 

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Kate
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Are there any drawbacks to starting the medication if it is in the 'low normal' range? I've learned from this forum that low normal is low for a Golden, but I'm always leery of over-medicating, too. Are there any risks or side effects to consider?
I was concerned when we started, not just because of the possibility of it making him hyperthyroid (restless, anxious, drinking more, panting, etc).

My guy got sick when I started him on glucosamine. So instead of giving him the loading dose for a month, we started him off with half the maintenance dose and worked him up to the maintenance dose. My vet was amazed my guy had that reaction.

With the soloxine, they started out with a lower dose. They rechecked his numbers after 30 days to make sure they were where they needed to be. They weren't, so they bumped up the dosage. Another check after 30 days and he was perfect and good to go for 6 months.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
There could be some drawbacks if you start him on supplementation and he really isn't hypothyroid. You don't want a normal dog getting too high a dose because then they become hyperthyroid that can lead to some other issues. That's why they usually recommend a retest of some sort (our vet does a thyroid absorption post-pill test) to recheck levels. If his level goes sky-high at the recheck then you can either lower the dosage and recheck or possibly take him off. If you use MSU they sometimes say the dog is euthyroid (I think that's the term), meaning the level is low because of some non-thyroid condition. When we first did Toby he was in that gray area and he got a euthyroid diagnosis, but I convinced his vet to do a trial run of a couple of months with a retest and when we did he came in solid normal levels. She decided to keep him on it because his weight normalized (he was chubby back then) and his coat improved dramatically on the supplement. I reported to her that his energy levels were more normal (which is high energy for him). At the next big recheck his levels were extremely low so we increased his dosage. She believed we caught him at the earliest beginnings of the disease. Over the years his levels bounced depending on the seasons but consistent bouncing--higher in the winter/cooler months and lower in the warmer months. As a result we recheck quarterly and adjust accordingly. He is entering the months when we can lower his dosage a bit.
Is it common for their levels to bounce around like that?
Boy, I'll have a lot to learn about this, if he is low...!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I was concerned when we started, not just because of the possibility of it making him hyperthyroid (restless, anxious, drinking more, panting, etc).

My guy got sick when I started him on glucosamine. So instead of giving him the loading dose for a month, we started him off with half the maintenance dose and worked him up to the maintenance dose. My vet was amazed my guy had that reaction.

With the soloxine, they started out with a lower dose. They rechecked his numbers after 30 days to make sure they were where they needed to be. They weren't, so they bumped up the dosage. Another check after 30 days and he was perfect and good to go for 6 months.
Okay, so if his levels are a little low, I'll probably want to make sure we start him out on the lowest possible dosage.
I really don't think they will be. At the absolute worst, he might possibly be in the 'low normal' range, so I'll make sure the vet understands that I'll want to proceed with caution.
 

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Is it common for their levels to bounce around like that?
Boy, I'll have a lot to learn about this, if he is low...!
No, they typically normalize very well....at least that's been my experience with my other two hypothyroid goldens. Toby is just unique in that way. Just when you think you can manage a disease or condition, he comes along and teaches me something new!
 

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I forgot to add that most veterinarians are overly cautious in starting dosing and intentionally prescribe the lowest dose possible anyway. Some vets prescribe morning and evening dosing and some just once a day. My two other goldens did just fine with one dose a day, but Toby definitely is better with the twice daily regimen. I think Dr. Dodds recommends the 12 hour supplementation cycle as well for better stability and absorption. You'll also find many people give the medication on an empty stomach--either 1 hour before a meal or 3 hours after. Others don't see a difference in absorption by trying to time it.
 

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I forgot to add that most veterinarians are overly cautious in starting dosing and intentionally prescribe the lowest dose possible anyway. Some vets prescribe morning and evening dosing and some just once a day. My two other goldens did just fine with one dose a day, but Toby definitely is better with the twice daily regimen. I think Dr. Dodds recommends the 12 hour supplementation cycle as well for better stability and absorption. You'll also find many people give the medication on an empty stomach--either 1 hour before a meal or 3 hours after. Others don't see a difference in absorption by trying to time it.
It's good to know that most are overly cautious about it. My vet seems to take a conservative approach with most things, so I imagine he'd do the same with this. Riley's reactive enough - the last thing I would need to do is over-medicate and make him anxious.
I'm really betting that his levels will be normal, though. If it weren't for that funky spot on his tail, I wouldn't have him tested at all. He has no other signs or symptoms.
 

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I didn't think Maggie had many symptoms either.... except she had her first hot spot and was a spayed middle aged golden. Turns out she was low across the board. Since being on supps since June, it's amazing how much more engaged she is.
 

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I didn't think Maggie had many symptoms either.... except she had her first hot spot and was a spayed middle aged golden. Turns out she was low across the board. Since being on supps since June, it's amazing how much more engaged she is.
Good thing you had her tested!
I think it's definitely worth going ahead with it, with Riley. If nothing else, it'll give me peace of mind to rule it out. And if it does turn out to be low, we'll be catching it early.
 

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No fasting required. Dr Dodds does a full panel ( the 5 tests.... T3, free T3, T4, free T4 and the autoimmune antibodies) for around $70. Most important, it comes with her interpretation to you and your vet. What we do is have our vet draw the blood and spin it to serum. Then I take and send to Dr Dodds UPS ( doesn't need to be refrigerated). A day or two after she receives it, you get your report and her interpretation. WELL worth the $ IMO.

You can read all about how to do it at her site: www.hemopet.com

And most important, many vets don't realize that low normal for a golden is actually low and needs supplementation. Dr Dodds factors in breed, age, sex ( neutered/spayed?) in her interpretation and recommendation as far as meds/doseage. Can you tell we've been down this road??? lol For us, it turns out Penny is fine, Maggie needs supplementation.... she was low across the board. It didn't show on her T4 alone.
Okay, stupid question: Does it have to be spun into serum, or can you just send a regular old blood-draw to her?

He has another weigh-in tomorrow morning. I don't know - it doesn't seem, to me, like he's lost any more weight since the last weigh-in (two weeks ago.) I know a couple pounds is really hard to notice, especially when you're looking at them and petting them 24/7. So I could be wrong.

I keep going back and forth between thinking that the vet is right and his thyroid is fine, to thinking that he's wrong and I should have it tested. At the moment, I'm leaning toward the latter, though I have no concrete reason for it. (I'm probably just obsessing.)
But I might see if they have time to do a quick blood-draw for me when we take him in tomorrow morning. I don't think the vet will appreciate my wanting to 'go around him' so to speak and send it to Dr. Dodds, but I think that's the best way to go.
 
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