Posted By: Lynn Broom

Lethargic Daisy gets help

Daisy is a lovely friendly 3 year old Spanish Water dog. She has always been quieter than her ‘sister’ Poppy and, particularly since being neutered, her owners have struggled with her expanding waistline.

We try to assess a pet’s weight every time we see them. Being underweight can be a sign of underfeeding, parasites or underlying disease and can lead to malnutrition, poor growth and muscle loss. Being overweight is usually due to taking in more calories than the body is burning although, occasionally, it can be due to underlying disease, and can lead to difficulty exercising, increased breathing problems and multiple effects on internal organs and joints.

It is important to feel your pet to assess their weight because a long or curly coat can make it difficult to assess their weight visually. If you are unsure if their weight is correct then your vet or vet nurse will be more than happy to advise you.

Daisy presented with lethargy to the point where she was struggling to get up and was not showing any enthusiasm for anything. She had not been ‘quite right’ for a few days and this had progressed. Following a thorough clinical examination it was determined that Daisy had a slightly raised temperature but no other symptoms. She found it difficult to stand from sitting but had no pain anywhere and this appeared to be due to weakness. Following discussions with her owners a blood sample was sent to the lab. A urine sample was unremarkable.

The following day Daisy was still as lethargic although her temperature had returned to normal. The blood test results had changes consistent with hypothyroidism and so a further test to check her thyroid level and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels were run which confirmed hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is a condition where the body is not producing enough thyroid hormone. The pituitary gland produces TSH to tell the thyroid to produce thyroid hormone. If the level of thyroid hormone drops too low in the body then more TSH is produced .The thyroid hormone can be lowered by other ongoing diseases but a low thyroid hormone and high TSH is diagnostic for hypothyroidism.

The thyroid hormone affects many body systems and, when low, it typically presents with lethargy, weight gain and skin abnormalities. Although Daisy has had previous ear infections she had no obvious associated skin issues when she presented. Bilateral  hair loss (alopecia), thinning coat and increased pigmentation/thickening of the skin are all typical signs of dogs with hypothyroidism.

We immediately started Daisy on a thyroid hormone replacer and, within a few days, she had improved dramatically and had lots more energy. Having a low thyroid hormone is a cause of weight gain and difficulty losing weight. Since starting on treatment Daisy has been taken off her low calorie weight loss diet and put back on her normal diet and she has continued to lose weight and is enjoying playing with Poppy even more than before.


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