Is it possible to diagnose canine hypothyroidism?

Authors

  • D. L. Panciera

    1. Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0442, USA
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Abstract

A definitive diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be difficult because of the many clinical abnormalities associated with thyroid hormone deficiency, and the lack of readily available diagnostic tests with high sensitivity and specificity. Thyroid function tests should be performed only in dogs with clinical findings consistent with hypothyroidism. Measurement of serum total thyroxine (T4) concentration is a useful initial screening test since most hypothyroid dogs have values below the reference range. Serum free T4 concentration measured by equilibrium dialysis is a more sensitive and specific test of thyroid function than total T4 and is particularly useful in dogs with non-thyroidal illness or atypical clinical signs. Measurement of serum endogenous thyroid-stimulating hormone concentration is also helpful, but many hypothyroid dogs have normal results. The gold standard for diagnosis of hypothyroidism remains the thyroid-stimulating hormone response test. It should be used to confirm hypothyroidism when other tests do not agree with the clinical impression or if atypical signs or non-thyroidal illness exist or there has been administration of drugs known to alter thyroid function tests. Ultimately, a positive response to treatment is expected in hypothyroid dogs treated appropriately with levothyroxine.

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