Epidemiological, clinical, haematological and biochemical characteristics of canine hypothyroidism

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Dixon RM, Reid SW, Mooney CT.

The Veterinary record 1999;145:481-487.

Hypothyroidism was diagnosed in 50 dogs and excluded in 86 dogs suspected of hypothyroidism, on the basis of the results of bovine thyrotropin response tests. Breed, pedigree, sex or neutering status did not significantly influence the likelihood of the dogs being hypothyroid. The hypothyroid dogs were significantly older than the non-hypothyroid dogs referred to the University of Glasgow during the same period. However, when dogs under two years of age were excluded from the statistical analyses there was no significant difference in age between the two groups. The most common clinical characteristics associated with hypothyroidism were metabolic signs (84 per cent of cases), particularly lethargy (76 per cent), obesity or weight gain (44 per cent), and exercise intolerance (24 per cent); and dermatological abnormalities (80 per cent), including alopecia (56 per cent), poor coat quality (30 per cent) and hyperpigmentation (20 per cent). When compared with the laboratory reference limits the most common biochemical and haematological abnormalities were increased concentrations of triglycerides (88 per cent), cholesterol (78 per cent), glucose (49 per cent), and fructosamine (43 per cent), and increased activities of creatine kinase (35 per cent), and decreased concentrations of inorganic phosphate (63 per cent), and a low red blood cell count (40 per cent). When compared with reference limits derived from the euthyroid dogs the most common abnormalities were increased concentrations of gamma-glutamyltransferase (21 per cent), cholesterol (18 per cent), and aspartate aminotransferase (15 per cent) and a decreased red blood cell count (29 per cent), and decreased neutrophils (18 per cent) and decreased activity of creatine kinase (15 per cent). Assessment of cholesterol, creatine kinase, aspartate aminotransferase, gamma-glutamyltransferase, and red blood cell and neutrophil counts may be particularly useful in distinguishing hypothyroid dogs from euthyroid animals with similar clinical signs.