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Companion Animal Practice
Diagnosing canine hypothyroidism
  1. Ian Ramsey

    Ian Ramsey qualified from Liverpool veterinary school in 1990. After a short period in general practice he spent four years at Glasgow veterinary school where he completed a PhD on feline leukaemia virus. Since 1994 he has worked at Cambridge veterinary school as university assistant physician (small animals), during which time he has had a special interest in the fields of endocrinology and infectious diseases. He gained the certificate in small animal medicine in 1995.


HYPOTHYROIDISM is usually caused by immune-mediated destruction or idiopathic atrophy of the thyroid gland. Diagnosis is initially based on historical and clinical findings consistent with the condition. If the history or clinical examination are inconsistent with the diagnosis, then other differential diagnoses should be thoroughly investigated before any investigations are conducted on the thyroid gland. Unfortunately, many dogs present with a history that is at least suggestive of hypothyroidism (for example, lethargy and poor coat condition), but clinical examination proves unrewarding. In these cases further tests are indicated. This article discusses the interpretation - and limitations - of specific tests of thyroid function and sets out a diagnostic protocol.

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