Help.....My Sheltie is scratching and itchy all over.
Help.....My Sheltie keeps
Help...... My sheltie has terrible allergies
Help........My Sheltie has constant ear infections
Help.......My Shelties skin and coat look awful
If any of these sound familiar, your Sheltie may have
"Hypothyroidism".......or "Low Thyroid". It is one of the most common
ailments in this breed, yet it goes undiagnosed MOST of the time.........
A low thyroid Sheltie may display some or all of these symptoms:
Overweight! Weight gain or the inability to lose weight.....ravenous
appetite, acts starving all the time.
A sheltie who is overweight and normal diet and exercise don't
help.....should be checked for low thyroid.
Problems will begin on the rear of the dog, on the hips and tail.
(usually, not always) (Thus the term "Thyroid Tail")
When your dog is first experiencing Low Thyroid, you will likely
notice hair loss, dry flakey skin on the tail and rear of the dog.
It will progress and spread the longer the dog goes without treatment. Dry, itchy,
flakey skin. (can have terrible dandruff) The Sheltie may or may not scratch and chew at his skin
(depends how infected it is) ...often mis-diagnosed as an allergy. Mild cases can just involve itchy irritated skin. The
more severe cases often
have infected, open sores. These dogs often smell bad because of the infection in the
skin, or the resulting yeast infection in the skin from Antibiotic
use. Low Thyroid hair loss is most often on the trunk of the
body and the tail. Thyroid tests should be run on any
Sheltie with skin problems.
Ear infections. Either bacteria or yeast based. Ongoing or
occasional. The lower the thyroid the more chronic the ear infections become.
If a Sheltie has gone too long with low thyroid, the ears can
thicken and become deformed from constant infection. (Often
called Cauliflower Ear) Any ear infection in a Sheltie
should be accompanied by a thyroid test. When we have a dog come in with an ear infection, the thyroid is the
first thing we check.
Puppies that are the same size as their littermates but weigh
considerably more are the ones that have a thyroid problem in later years. I know this is not
scientific.......but this is what we see.
Coat problems .... Low Thyroid shelties
just don't have healthy looking coats. It can vary from thin,
short, sparse, fuzzy, and often downy soft fur. Or,
there can be only a thin overcoat, with no undercoat. In all cases,
a low thyroid Sheltie just does not have a nice thick, long coat. Shelties
who have gone years without treatment will often have wide-spread hair
loss. (bald spots)
Runny eye or eyes. A clear watery discharge coming from the eye. It is
often misdiagnosed as a blocked tear duct. (note: a yellow or green
discharge from the eye is not low thyroid and should be looked
at by your Vet)
problems.......fearfulness, aggression, grumpy, etc
Cholesterol deposits (foggy spots) on one or both eyes.
High cholesterol blood test results
Inability to be bred......and/or
lack of coming into season. OR....if bred, inability to
This is a "worst case" photo.
The dog in this picture, Marty, has low thyroid that has gone
untreated for years. His ears are
inflamed and infected. Hair loss is wide-spread. His skin is oozy
and infected in places. He has runny eyes. The only
reason he is not fat is because he did not have food to eat.
This case is one of the worst we have had.... this is NOT typical, but
this IS what will happen if this goes on for years.
Marty's T4 was
.8 on a scale of .8 - 3.5
Not really that low.....but disastrous for a Sheltie.
So what does the average low thyroid dog
look like? See below.........
Before and After's
Randy - Before
Here are some close-up pictures of Randy's severely
infected ears, caused by Low Thyroid. This boy was
dumped, likely because the ear infection was so bad. Click on photo to see full size image. Randy made a full
Randy After-- 3 months after starting Soloxine
Widespread hair loss. Open infected sores.
Nasty ear infections in both ears. T4 was 1.0
(considered normal by many tests)
after starting on Thyroid Medication (Soloxine).
Of course there are always other causes of all of these symptoms, but low
thyroid needs to be ruled out.
Our group alone places 100-200 shelties per year. I would
easily say that about a third of them are low thyroid. It is so
common that we can now just look at a group of shelties and pick out the
ones with low thyroid.
The reason that so many Shelties with
Low Thyroid go undiagnosed......is because
Shelties need to maintain a higher thyroid level than most other breeds.
A sheltie must always run very high normal to be truly normal.
We suggest making sure the T4 is in the upper 1/2 to 1/3 of normal.
For example; lets say your test's normal range is from .8 - 3.5
If your Sheltie's tests result is 1.2, many tests will call that
"normal". We disagree. We would like to see a Sheltie test
at 2--4 on this scale. We have seen some extremely sick
Shelties that will test at under a 2.
1) All the info on this page
applies ONLY to Shelties who have low thyroid symptoms. (see above).
If your Sheltie has none of the symptoms listed above, and you simply
want to know if your Sheltie is low thyroid, a full Thyroid panel is
2) Never, ever
treat your dog for low thyroid, unless you and your Vet are certain your
dog needs it, and you have proven it by blood test.
3) All suggestions on Thyroid
treatment on this page assume that the dog is in good health otherwise,
and all other diseases and conditions have been ruled out.
OK...so how to test. What
test does your Vet offer? .....we have played with the different tests and
symptoms in all of these Shelties. The test itself doesn't matter
as much as knowing the normal range. The T4 by itself tells us what we need to know.
I know the T4 can vary with many things......but not that much...and not enough to
make a difference in what we are looking for. In other words.........start
with the T4. It may be all you need, and it is far less expensive than the
full thyroid panel.
Another interesting scenario we have run into. Let's say
that your Sheltie has one or more low thyroid symptoms..... but
the T4 tests show he is in the upper range already. Don't
give up on thyroid !! Sometimes the old "If it walks like a duck"
thing applies here.
Your Sheltie could just be starting down the Low Thyroid road.
If you catch it early, great job!! If the first test does not
catch it, continue to test every 2-6 months before you rule it out.
Another problem we have run into a few times, is the T4 can fluctuate
slightly during the day. Not much, but sometimes enough to throw you.
If you are convinced of low thyroid in your sheltie and are having
trouble proving it.....try having your Vet draw blood for a T4 three
times in one day. Before breakfast, around 2:00pm, and then at the end of the day. Then compare and
discuss the results. Some Shelties have just been difficult
like this, and it has taken several readings to prove (or rule out) low
NOTE: If testing your
Shelties T4 three times in one day, still shows his thyroid
high-normal...... then you may very well have something else going on
with your dog. There are other diseases that can mimic low
thyroid. Cushings disease would probably be my next suspect.
Our lab of choice for your dogs thyroid test is:
Also, after reading all this, please
know that we are not suggesting that you march
in and tell your Vet what to do! Rather; we are suggesting you share this vital information with
your vet, and ask him/her to work with you in solving the problem.
This is not something you can treat by yourself. However, if your
vet is unwilling to listen to you, or refuses to work with you.......
well then you have some choices to make.
OK, so now you got your test results back, and they are low.
Now what? Soloxine is
the drug of choice. We have not had good luck with the generic
brands. Your vet can advise the strength and dose. (We
prefer twice a day treatment over once a day.) The suggested
dosage is .10 per 10 pounds of ideal body weight twice a day.. so for a
30 pound dog it would get .3 in the morning and
.3 again at night. A 20 pound dog will get .2 morning
and .2 in the evening..etc. Please note that dosage is
based on ideal body weight.... not current weight.
After 30-45 days on the Soloxine, you should begin to see the symptoms easing away. It
doesn't happen overnight, as it takes Soloxine a month to build up in the system.
Important note: Soloxine
MUST be given on an empty stomach. 1 hour before, or 3 hours
after a meal.
When beginning on Soloxine, ask your vet
to check the levels (T4) in 6 weeks just to make
sure the dosage is correct. Dogs on thyroid medication should test
at the very high edge of normal. The "therapeutic range" is
higher. Don't forget this! Then check levels yearly
after that. Just remember ......... with Shelties you want the
levels in the upper third of normal when first checking it, and at the
very high end once on Soloxine.
OK....so you just started your Sheltie on Soloxine.
What do you do about the current problems your dog if suffering from ??
Keep in mind that until the thyroid levels are normal, the infections
will just keep recurring. All you can do at this point is treat
Here are some tips that we use while we wait.......
For a greasy coat, (with no skin
infection) -- try bathing with Dawn dishwashing liquid. Works
great at cutting through that oil. Make certain you rinse it
For smelly, yeasty, or Itchy ears (in
between treatment) - squirt a little Monistat in each ear and rub.
For ravenous, always starving dogs:
Add warm water to their food, making it soup-like. Warm
water will fill up their stomach more, and make them feel fuller.
Also give 1/2 cup of raw green beans once or twice a day as a snack.
Carrots also work well too.
For current ear, skin, or systemic
infections, pain, itching or open sores--- discuss with your vet.
(You still need to get rid of the infection).
Then, hang in there!!
Help is coming.
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