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Low T4 and thyroid medicine.

Species: Dog
Breed: Lab Mix
Age: 5-8 years
I have a 6yr old lab mix (approx 70 lbs) that was diagnosed with hypothyroidism after discovering low T4 level during his full blood panel test. He also recently gained weight even though the amount of his feedings didn't change and noticed increased panting at all hours of the day/night. He was prescribed 0.6 mg Thyrozine twice a day and his T4 level was retested 6 weeks later. We were told his T4 count is now in normal range and we should continue the medication for the rest of his life. The concern we have is that we have noticed increased lethargy during short walks and panting has not stopped and don't think the medication is helping. I'm not convinced we were given an accurate diagnosis and am considering switching vets. Is there something else the Dr should be testing for other than hypothyroidism that could be the issue? Also, tonight we found a white tick the size of a kernel of corn near his ear. He is currently on Vectra which I assumed would prevent ticks. Could a disease related to ticks resemble symptoms of hypothyroidism?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for an interesting question. I have a few thoughts on what you wrote.

First of all, do you know if the test for hypothyroidism was just a single test? (It would be a test called either a Total T4 or a Free T4). Sometimes, things other than hypothyroidism can cause either of these levels to appear to be too low. On one hand, it might be acceptable to say that it would be worthwhile to try Cosmo on meds as he has a few criteria for hypothyroidism:

-He is a lab and hypothyroidism is common in labs.
-he was gaining weight
-he was panting
-he had a low T4

In a case like this I would certainly consider a trial of thyroid medication. However, if he is truly hypothyroid you should be noticing some type of difference.

Now, usually when a dog has a low T4 (or Free T4) I like to do a full thyroid profile. This looks at a number of other factors that can tell us more certainly whether there is a thyroid problem.

The T4 levels can definitely be low because of other issues.

You may want to ask your vet if lyme disease or other tick borne diseases are common in your area. If so, testing Cosmo for tick borne diseases is a good idea. Something like lyme disease can definitely cause the symptoms you are describing.

Another possibility is if Cosmo has some arthritis issues. If this were my case I may consider a trial of some anti-inflammatory medications to see if this makes a difference.

I hope this information helps. It's a tough question to answer because we really don't know exactly what is going on, but hopefully I've helped explain things somewhat. Let me know if you have more questions.

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.