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Rhodesian Ridgeback Thyroid Problems

There is no doubting that thyroid issues have drawn much attention in the dog world. And we would all have to admit, whether you do it silently to yourself or out loud with others, that the rate of abnormal thyroids within our breed has increased over the years. Thyroid testing in the Ridgeback was not done consistently, if at all, in the earlier days, so the “increase” in thyroid problems can be subjectively argued. Regardless, this article is not meant to debate the validity of increased detection. Instead, I have penned this article to set the record straight on the two major avenues that most breeders choose to present their dog’s test results by: OFA and MSU. Is a test result from one any better than the other?    The information that follows has been ex- tracted directly from the websites of these organizations so that you, the dog public, will be edu- cated on the requirement of both OFA and MSU when screening for a “normal” thyroid panel.

Thyroid Facts
Both the OFA certification requirements on the thyroid panel and the MSU “premium profile” panel are 8-parameter profiles testing for TT4, TT3, FT4, FT3, T4AA, T3AA, cTSH, and TgAA. The MSU lab does offer a “standard profile” panel test but the premium utilizes the dialysis technique on the T4, which is also within the OFA analysis requirements. Other information provided via the MSU website were information regarding effects of vaccinations as well as medica- tions in relations to the thyroid. MSU has stated that it is not aware of any evidence to support that vaccinations could be associated with the induction of immune mediated thyroid disease. Effects of other medications, such as, glucocorti- coids, anti-epileptic medications, phenylbutazone, and carproten (Rimadyl) can affect thyroid hormone results. It is sug- gested that a 3-6 weeks medication free period preclude any thyroid diagnostic sample.
Also discussed was the thyroid profile of both the sighthound and estrus or pregnant bitches. Higher thyroid hormone concentrations have been documented in normal bitches during metestrus and pregnancy. However, it is yet to be deter- mined whether these numeric differences are of a sufficient magnitude to cause misdiagnoses. Sighthounds have lower TT4 and FT4 reference ranges although these are generally not published. In some case studies, the TT4 reference range extends to zero. As such, a dog with hypothyroidism cannot be differentiated from a normal dog using T4 tests alone. Fortunately, general canine population ranges for TSH appear to apply well to these breeds. Thus a sighthound with low TT4 and FT4 concentration. But with a normal TSH concentration, is unlikely to be hypothyroid.
Whether you pay to register your results through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, it is obvious that there are quality avenues available to adequately test ALL the appropriate ranges needed for a thorough thyroid evaluation. It would appear for the optimal result situation, avoid collecting a diagnostic sample on or around pregnancy, estrus, medi- cating, or even vaccinating. Also utilize the 8–parameter testing for your dog’s panel in order to make the most thor- ough evaluation.

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