Ask The Vet Archives

Hypothyroidism, Remedies In Canada

My 12 year old Malamute has marginally low hypothyroidism and has been on low dosage of Levothyroxine for quite a few years.  Her dosages were recommended following testing through Dr Jean Dodds’ lab.  She has continued to lose hair coat and her tail is almost completely bald.  Her coat shedding and replacement growth does not occur seasonally as it should and the old hair becomes quite dry. She is on a wonderful diet with supplements and has seen a few holistic vets but we have not been able to resolve her coat issues.
She also has issues with incontinence and tremors.
We have been able to partially manage these other symptoms with homeopathics but the coat continues to worsen.
Do you have any suggestions as to causes or treatments to help with this?
~ Marilyn

Wondering if there is a homeopathic remedy to deal with thyroid issues in my senior girl. Also where to buy the different remedies in Canada.
~ Elizabeth

Dr Jeff FeinmanHi Marilyn and Elizabeth,

The diagnosis of hypothyroidism in dogs is reaching epidemic proportions. Unfortunately Elizabeth there is no single homeopathic medicine (out of the thousands that are available) that is most commonly used for treatment. The good news is that well chosen homeopathic medicines can normalize low thyroid levels in the dog.

Low thyroid levels are best addressed as soon as symptoms arise. Symptoms may manifest externally with coat changes, low energy, easy weight gain, etc. or internally with low hormone levels, high cholesterol, mild anemia, etc. Early treatment can both prevent development of clinical hypothyroidism and can even normalize low thyroid levels without hormone replacement.

Hair loss such as you are seeing Marilyn is indeed a common feature of the disease. Thyroid hormones are integral for normal hair growth in addition to their role in many other metabolic processes. The question is whether your pup’s alopecia (hair loss) is directly related to her hypothyroidism.

Have your vets have been monitoring blood thyroid hormone levels? If you are maintaining therapeutic levels then clinical hypothyroidism is much less likely. However, it’s very important to understand that supplementing with soloxine is not addressing the “root” of the problem. Hypothyroidism often results from immune-mediated destruction of her thyroid cells from her own antibodies. Vaccination can induce auto-immunity. Especially early age and repeated immunizations. I’d therefore be very cautious about further vaccinations. Consider running titers for distemper and parvovirus and only giving rabies vaccinations as required by law.

In the common situation you describe where years of supplementation is not addressing the symptoms, it is still often very helpful to treat the underlying problem.  This needs to be accomplished energetically. Homeopathic treatment after assessment of all signs and symptoms is the most scientific way of doing so in my experience.

Urinary incontinence and tremors are great examples of “unrelated” symptoms that can be very useful to the veterinary homeopath. There are many supplements that can be used to treat these symptoms. However, like drugs which cover up physiologic abnormalities, these supplements often have to be given daily. Repeated doses of medications or natural supplements used to keep symptoms at bay is one of the hallmarks of palliation. I’m sure that you have used many of these over the years. Two of my  favorite incontinence cover-ups include the supplement DHEA and ½ cup of soy milk as needed.

Elizabeth, buying homeopathic medicines in Canada is pretty easy. Many general pharmacies in Canada now carry most common remedies in 6, 12, 15 and 30c potencies. Some even stock up to 200c. As in the US, OTC purchase of some homeopathic medicines is  restricted to licensed health care practitioners.

Hooper’s and Smith’s pharmacies in the Toronto area have a good supply and may be able to mail remedies to you. You can also order directly from Boiron (the maker of homeopathic medicines in the blue tube) through their online store.

Good luck to you both.

Dr. Jeff

Cracked Teeth

I have a healthy 13 year old non neutered male Vizsla. Yesterday, while brushing his teeth, I noticed that his upper left molar is cracked. He is showing no signs of discomfort. There is no decay.  Do I need to do something about this or just let it be ? Please advise.

~ Jodi

Dr Sara ChapmanDear Jodi,

It is excellent that you are regularly brushing and observing your Vizsla’s teeth.  Brushing every day is fantastic, and even brushing a few times a week can help decrease tartar and improve dental health.  The other important thing about brushing is, as you have seen, that you observe changes in your dog’s mouth, such as tooth fractures.

A simple chip off the tip of a molar or premolar is unlikely to cause a problem, as long as the pulp of the tooth is not exposed.  (Most dogs have four premolars behind each pointed canine tooth; they have two molars on the top and three molars on the bottom behind each fourth premolar). However, it can be hard to tell just how extensive a crack is.

Dogs can get slab fractures of their premolars or molars; this may occur when they chew on or catch something overly hard.  A slab fracture may be small and superficial, or it may extend down into the pulp cavity.  This can lead to inflammation and abscessing of the tooth root.  Look closely at your boy’s chipped tooth to be sure that it is just a surface chip.  If it extends further into the tooth pulp, veterinary intervention may be required.



S.F. Chapman DVM, MRCVS, VetMFHom

Parvo & Distemper Vaccine & Chronic Disease

What is the recommended parvo/distemper vaccine schedule? I have a rescued Shih Tzu and have given him his “yearly” vaccine now for the past two years as I do not know his medical history prior to. He has also gotten the three year rabies vaccine when I adopted also for the same fact. With all the articles I have read about over-vaccination I want to be sure I am doing the right thing for him.

~ Barbara

Jennifer RamelmeierDear Barbara,

In my practice I only give one distemper/parvo vaccine after 14 weeks of age and then do yearly  blood titers to satisfy boarding and local veterinary requirements.  Dr Ronald Schultz, head of pathobiology at the Wisconsin University has shown that a distemper vaccine given at or after 12 weeks of age, provides life time immunity in 95% of dogs and that the 5% that do not mount an immune response will not likely do so no matter how many vaccines given.

I do recommend giving a rabies vaccine every three years but do not recommend giving to senior or unhealthy dogs.

Yours in health,

Jennifer Ramelmeier DVM, CVH

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