General => General Discussion => Topic started by: Cindy Conner on June 14, 2012, 11:26:20 AM

Title: Behavior and Fear issues in an Agility Dog and Thyroid problems
Post by: Cindy Conner on June 14, 2012, 11:26:20 AM
Many of you in the agility community have seen me struggle with fear issues in the agility ring with Tansy, since late October of 2010. It has been a long journey to figure out why the fear issues showed up and what I could do to help Tansy. I am sharing my story, so others can learn from my experiences.

In late 2010, I started researching fear issues in dogs and learning as much as I could about how to build Tansy confidence and over come the fears. I met Kristy Pearson at an agility trial in Helena in March of 2011 and she was very helpful with advice and books to read. I talked to numerous people and took Tansy to see two vets who said she was healthy. I was given great advice about behavior modifications. I was seeing some improvements with behavior modification, but I kept feeling like I was up against a wall, and that something was not quite right with Tansy. Her behaviors and agility performance would yo-yo. Many times I was frustrated to the point that maybe I should stop doing agility with Tansy and even considered finding a new home for her. Jean McCreight was so helpful in encouraging me to keep working on Tansy's issue and knows first hand how I have struggled.

I received Jean Dodds, DVM book "The Canine Thyroid Epidemic" as a gift and read the whole book in a few days. What an eye opener!!!! Jean Dodds in her book, described a large list of behavior issues, including fears and phobias, that can show up in young dogs and indicate a thyroid problem. Reading the list of behavior symptoms in the book made me realize that Tansy may have a thyroid problem.

Tansy's behavior issues included: fear and phobias; unprovoked aggression incidents mainly toward my other two dogs, with one incident toward a child; fear of strangers; fear of children; lack of confidence; not wanting to spend time in the same areas of the house as the rest of the family; grumpy behaviors; plus she was lethargic. I was aware of thyroid issues with Huckleberry, but it never occurred to me that a very young dog would have thyroid problems. Jean Dodds in her book states that dogs as young as 6 to 9 months can exhibited thyroid problems which usually manifest as behavior problems. Plus, Jean discusses in her book that many of the dogs turned into shelters with behavior problems most likely have thyroid problems, which is easily treated with an inexpensive drug. The problem is that the general vet community does not recognize behavior issues as the early stages of thyroid problems, before the dog reaches full blown hypothyroidism with hair falling out, weight gain, and skin problems.

I made an appointment with my vet, and requested that blood be drawn for a CBC (Complete Blood Count), Differential, Chemistry Panel and the Complete Thyroid 5 Panel to go to Jean Dodds lab in California. The vet office had never heard of Jean Dodds, the leading researcher in canine thyroid issues. I had to send them the website address and info. This vet office was very willing to work with me, but they thought Tansy could not have a problem with thyroid, she looks like a very healthy dog with a beautiful coat. I stressed I needed to find out if there is a physical reason causing the behavior issues.

The results of the test confirmed positive that Tansy has autoimmune thyroiditis, the heritable form of canine thyroid disease.

Tansy is a different dog after six weeks of treatment. Within a few days of starting treatment, I noticed changes in Tansy, all positive. Her behavior issues are disappearing. She has become loss fearful of strangers and children. She has way more energy, wants to play with toys, runs after her ball, her YPS is going up, wants to be with the rest of the family and there have not been any incidents of unprovoked aggression. Since it is summer, I do not know how she will be with the loud noises with arena heaters, but I am thinking it will not be an issue anymore.

The future for Tansy and I to play agility is looking up as she returns to her active, happy self.

Each dog that has come into my life has been a wonderful teacher and Tansy was no exception. With all my research on fear issues in canines, no one, even two vets, ever mention to me that Tansy may have a physical reasons for her fears. My goal is to educate as many folks as possible about thyroid problems in canines and that any changes in behavior could be related to a poor functioning thyroid gland and take the dog to the vet for a complete thyroid panel.
Title: Behavior and Fear issues in an Agility Dog and Thyroid problems
Post by: Lin Battaglia on June 14, 2012, 02:19:27 PM
Behavior and fear issues.
Thank you for posting this Cindy, as it a current issue with a couple of dogs I know. I believe this will help them. I have tested some of my own dogs with Dr. Dodds before.

Title: Behavior and Fear issues in an Agility Dog and Thyroid problems
Post by: Lin Battaglia on June 14, 2012, 02:22:21 PM
Behavior and fear issues.
PS.... glad TANSY is doing better. I remember her as a puppy with Sharon. Good luck and have fun.

Title: Re: Behavior and Fear issues in an Agility Dog and Thyroid problems
Post by: Maureen deHaan on June 14, 2012, 06:24:57 PM
So glad you got your answers and that she is getting Tx.  My husky, Nika is also hypothyroid (not autoimmune) and I insisted that she was... against my vet's opinion. I love my vet ...I trust him ...but *I* know my dog...she has a lovely coat but was exhibiting really super bitchy behavior and was also running off on her papa when they were out running.. not something that she EVER does.  I sent blood out to Jean Dodds as well and got the answer I had expected... My vet was also pleased and now really listens to my gut feelings about my dogs.. he has even suggested that I should have been a vet - LOL!

Dr. Dodds is wonderful! Hemopet is a great group that does really good things for dogs.

Good for you for your perseverance and good for whomever gave you that fabulous book (which I also have!)
Title: Re: Behavior and Fear issues in an Agility Dog and Thyroid problems
Post by: Diane Whitney on June 14, 2012, 08:25:17 PM
On a related note, I have read numerous anecdotes on one of my other boards of dogs with sudden, dramatic behavioral changes (fearfulness, unprovoked aggression, really extreme separation anxiety, destructive behavior, etc.), that turned out to be caused by Lyme. No physical symptoms--purely behavioral. A round of doxy and the dogs were completely back to normal. So, something to consider if you're struggling with similar issues.

Title: Re: Behavior and Fear issues in an Agility Dog and Thyroid problems
Post by: Lynn Broderick on June 15, 2012, 03:56:23 PM
Cindy- how awesome that your vet was willing to work with you to confirm the thyroiditis! I saw Dr. Dodds at a seminar a few years ago and she is a trooper for continuing to fight the incredible resistance of vets about the signs of a thyroid condition.  What a sneaky disease- "slight" symptoms that could be related to something else, but it seems that if your dog isn't hairless and fat (which are signs the disease is starting to do serious damage), you're deluded.

I deal with this all the time in my job, as I'm a dog trainer & canine behavior counselor. It is unfortunate that even when a vet will do a blood test for thyroid issues, they do the wrong ones.

Congratulations- so happy for you! May you and Tansy have a long and distinguished agility career!

Lynn Broderick
Buffalo NY