The Rip Van Wrinkler, Volume XX, Issue 3, August 2016

Page 13 < previous page > <next page>


by Susan Kamen Marsicano {Wrinkler Editor}

Back in days, it was sad to hear about basenjis being put down, at around 5/6 years old, because, "they got nasty". Sad, because, it may have been that they simply did not feel quite right, because their thyroid's needed to be supplemented. It is equally sad to hear of dogs who are overweight, and being dieted, who, instead, need their thyroid levels fixed. Some dogs are picky eaters, as hypothyroidism can cause a loss of smell. Some dogs have too many heats or too few heats, or false pregnancies, or absorb their puppies, and these bitches needed to have their thyroids checked. Some dogs are impotent, and the same is true for them.

So, have you done a Wellness Thyroid Panel? I always test mine at around 12 months of age.

The test is simply a blood draw. Easiest way to get it done right is to send the sample to Dr. Dodds (Hemopet). She has a basenji data base, has now instructed her lab crew about the correct basenji normals. They will send you and your vet the test results, and recommend the correct dosage (BID) of Thyro-Tabs.

A few "whens":

The first Wellness test should be done at around 12 months of age, or 100 days past day one of that first season. This is true for both dogs and bitches.

Always thyroid check before breeding, in the anestrus (100 days either side of the heat cycle).

Thyroid check 4 to 6 months after neutering/spaying.

Thyroid check if you notice symptoms, such any problems with coat or skin.

Have your vet send the sample out to Hemopet. Hemopet is Not-For-Profit, and is less costly than your own vet can do "in house", or at his lab, and they will get it right. The simplest thing to do is to sign up for the test online, & pay for it online. You'll get a barcode for the vials, and all the info you need for your vet to do the blood draw and ship the sample (not frozen).

Here's a screen shot of part of the test submission form, and here is the link:

Here is a piece from a previous Wrinkler:

Thyroid Testing/by Andrea Stone ~ University Canine Learning Academy Instructor/Owner and Saorsa Basenjis.

By now most of us understand the importance of thyroid testing annually with our lovely little breed, even within families not known to show symptoms. According to Dr. Dodds' website, Hypothyroidism is the most common endocrine disorder in dogs and once symptoms begin to manifest, 70% or greater of the gland has been damaged. This means that a dog may be Hypothyroid though they do not appear sick at all. But it’s much like running an engine on poor gasoline – things are not functioning properly and it puts stress on the rest of the system. Sooner or later, it will break down. So testing regularly should be part of any Basenji’s basic wellness care.

That said, it can sometimes be said much more easily than done. Even still, many veterinary offices do not embrace full panel testing as part of pet wellness nor do many of them seem to take advantage of Dr. Dodds' lab and her vast experience regarding interpretation of thyroid results. This does not make such veterinarians lesser, they or their staff may simply be unaware of this wonderful resource.

Not too long ago I was faced with this very problem myself. I cannot be certain whether it was a communication problem between me and the office staff, or the office staff and the veterinary staff, however in order to get blood drawn and the tests I wished for my dog, I had to be very certain of myself as well as insistent.

Having been involved in animal care for over 20 years and sending in Basenji blood samples to Dr. Dodds for at least 15 of those, that wasn’t a problem – I knew exactly what I wanted. I can imagine how things might go for the average pet owner who relies upon their veterinary office to assist them more fully.

I will explain and perhaps it will help others avoid problems in the future:
When I made the appointment to have a blood sample drawn I was very clear about what I wished to do –
“OFA Thyroid Expanded Profile” via Hemopet, and I was willing to mail it myself if need be. I had downloaded copies of instructions for doing so and sent them along, via email, to the vet’s office at the receptionist’s request. Lovely! They would know exactly what to do when I arrived, no reading the instructions to them as in the past. A few days before our appointment, the office called to confirm and I reiterated my intentions and was assured all was well.

When arrived to the office all seemed as it should be right up until the vet tech stepped into the exam room. First, they wished to take my dog “in back”. I explained that I have Mama Bear syndrome (I do not want anyone doing anything to my dog that they are uncomfortable doing in front of me) and that I was to be with her at all times. Okay, they could accommodate that. However, when I began speaking about Hemopet I could tell that the tech had not been given the information I provided. My email was present and in the file, however none of the attached instructions were included and indeed she seemed surprised. Given that I was not going to use their in-house lab an exam by the vet would be necessary and they had not scheduled me the proper appointment. The tech went on to suggest that I change and use their lab as surely it is less expensive. I declined.

I must admit that I was rather terse in suggesting that they figure out how to handle this and if necessary there were other vet offices to which I could go for such things. After all, I had been very specific about what I wanted to do when making the appointment and it was not my fault that their own staff did not schedule me properly. Apparently I cut a daunting enough figure (at least that’s how I choose to think about it!) that they did manage to find a doctor who had a few moments to look at my dog before blood was taken. Thankfully I had brought with me a printed copy of the instructions so that the right amount could be drawn and prepared.

When all was said and done, I did get what I wanted – blood was drawn and spun down and I then shipped it myself to Hemopet in California. There we had the “Expanded Profile” done with Dr. Dodds' analysis. However had I been less sure or relied more heavily on the expertise of my veterinary staff I may not have received what I wished. Be sure of what you want any time you do something ‘out of the norm’ and don’t be afraid to put your foot down.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, it is even easier now thanks to the Hemopet website, where you can fill out a “Test Request” form online, and immeditately receive a copy of the request with a tracking number, by PDF and email. Then you can print this. The tracking number allows you to check on the status of your sample in real time. If needed, sample instructions may still be downloaded from the site. If you do not know for a fact that your veterinarian is familiar with sending samples to Hemopet I strongly recommend you do so and take everything with you on the day of your appointment.

Veterinarians are wonderful and we rely on them to take good care of our pets. However they do not always know everything and cannot always be expected to be “up” on some more specialty services. We wish all vets could always have the most current information, especially as pertains to our pets, but the fact is that they don’t . They are human and the bigger and busier the practice the more they rely upon their support staff to relay information accurately between them and the pet owner. So occasionally misunderstandings may happen.

Know what you want and ask questions. When it comes to thyroid testing, stick to your guns.

Good resources:

Dr. Nancy Kay:
Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy Healthy Longer Life.

Your Dog's Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet

< previous page > <next page>