Friday, August 5, 2011

Stella Has a Thyroid Deficiency!

My dog Stella has had a lot of changes over the last year.
  • Increased shedding with a dull and greasy feeling coat, no matter how high the quality of dog food and the amount of essential fatty acid
  • Weight gain, even though she gets a regulated,diet-portion sized serving of food
  • An eye infection that seemed to persist no matter what
  • Re-occurring ear infections
  • Thinning hair along the sides of her back.
  • Less energy - her exuberance dulled
  • Re-occurring skin infections

My vet felt these were allergy symptoms and encouraged me to go on a raw food diet. I declined as it would just add more stress to my already maxed schedule. I found that salmon based dog food was the only variety that didn't aggravate everything.

The eye got better, but then got worse, then better, then worse. When Stella developed a vaginal discharge I decided to go back to my old vet. There we met Dr. Schroeder. She tested Stella's tear production in each eye - almost none in the right eye. Dr. Schroeder diagnosed dry eye syndrome and prescribed the treatment that will help.

When she considered Stella's weight gain and listened to my insistence that my dog gets small portions of dog food, Doc Schroeder looked more closely. The texture of Stella's coat, the excessive hair loss . . . these suggested a thyroid deficiency to Dr. Schroeder. Test results came back this morning!!!!! Stella has a thyroid deficiency.

While we could do additional testing to absolutely confirm this, I think that Stella has just about all of the symptoms. Here is a chart that lists the most common symptoms of thyroid deficiency in dogs and the percentage of dogs with low thyroid that present with each symptom

Clinical SymptomsPercentage of Dogs Showing Symptoms
Lethargy/mental dullness


Hair loss


Weight gain/obesity


Dry hair coat/excessive shedding


Hyperpigmentation of the skin


Cold intolerance


Slow heart rate


High blood cholesterol




Stella has every symptom but hyperpigmentation and a slow heart rate. I am delighted that there is an explanation for the cluster of symptoms that started slowly and eventually really effected Stella's quality of life. I really wish I had been more informed about how low thyroid manifests in dogs.

If your dog has any of the symptoms I discussed, please read this excellent article "Care of Your Hypo-thyroid Dog" by Dr. Hines.

Stella and I are very grateful she now has an accurate diagnosis. Thank you Dr. Schoeder of Sunnybrae Animal Clinic in Arcata.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Summer Vacation So Far . . .

Has been pretty busy! I am re-posting a blog entry I just wrote for a blog belonging to Heart of the Redwoods Horse Rescue . . .

About a year ago, something wonderful happened at Heart of the Redwoods Horse Rescue. A new team of six committed people took over the management of the non-profit. New volunteers were recruited, an effective corporate structure was re-developed, and once again horses started to be rescued. Today HRHR is responsible for the welfare of 10 horses. Each horse has rehab needs: think of this as being healed and prepared for continued productive relationships with humans. We have long known that rescuing horses is a community effort. Today we are asking all of you to become horse rescuers! Here are the horses that need your help.

Bryron is a stunning four year old, still a baby in many ways. He was bred to race but the economy and other issues changed those plans. Left at pasture for almost two years, Byron just came to HRHR. He will need ground training and saddle training - a complete foundation to enable him to share his amazing qualities safely with people.

Miss T has spent over a decade producing babies for the racing industry. This kind, lovely 16 year old mare is very polite on the ground. She appears sound and will need training from the ground up. There will be a no breeding stipulation in her adoption contract. There are enough horses needing homes in our world.

Chip is a breath under 14 hands and is coming to HRHR tomorrow. He is SUCH a good boy! Born in July, 2007 he is halter broke and leads. He needs extensive training.

Charlie is approaching the point where he will be available for adoption. His story is a good illustration of how we work at HRHR. When Chuck was surrendered to the Rescue he was a 17 year old, neglected mustang stallion. First stop was North Coast Veterinary Hospital for a gelding appointment. Chuck needed time to recover emotionally and physically. He is now in training with Jody Swanlund. Thank you Jody for donating your time and skill - it is part of the rehabilitation process that is changing and saving Charlie's life.

Levi came into the Rescue in July. In severe pain from her badly foundered front hoofs, she needed some immediate relief. Xrays and a treatment plan following the founder rehab protocol developed by Pete Ramey and Dr. Debra Taylor at Auburn University were the first step. Talented trimmer Jessica White is donating her time as an essential part of the team desperately trying to save this mare's life. To make a difference we need to continue to provide her with expensive therapy boots and pads, mineral supplements, and weekly White Lightning treatments. We think we can make a difference and that in the end Levi will be sound.

Angel. LOOK AT THIS MARE!!!!!! She is SO adoptable. Trainer Heather Snow-Flamer said she has had extensive training at one time in her life (thank you Heather for all you do for us!). Angel is great little riding horse. Senior horses have SO MUCH TO OFFER. Please adopt this mare.

Captain Jack joined HRHR on June 21st. His "savior" was a kind-hearted woman in Fort Dick who took him in when he was abandoned by his long time owner. Jack had some medical needs and HRHR was contacted. Dr. Branch of NCHV has been wonderful with this boy, treating a long term low grade infection. Just cleared for exercise and light riding (to start), Jack's "horse team" can now begin the process of preparing him for adoption.

Long time friends of HRHR will recognize Olive, who was one of the 40 horses seized by Humboldt County in 2008 in a heart-wrenching hoarding case. Currently in training with Heather Snow-Flamer, we believe that Olive will soon be a very adoptable riding horse. Heather, thank you for donating you time and talent to give Olive the best chance for a wonderful life.

Bodie . . . after five years in a small, manure filled enclosure, Bodie is delighted to run free in the pastures donated to HRHR. We have many "silent" partners whose generosity makes it possible for the team to exist. Bodie would be such a wonderful companion horse. How would you, her adopter benefit? You would get to share her infectious joy.

In addition to these nine horses HRHR is responsible for the life-long care of a senior pony, Legacy. We are very grateful to our foster homes who are providing exceptional care for Sophia and Quincy.

Our Board of Directors recently met to review HRHR's expenditures between June 2010 and July 2011. Here is a "snapshot" of those expenditures (click on image to make it bigger). We are highly committed to ensuring that the funding generously donated by our community of fellow horse rescuers is effectively managed. All donated funds go for the welfare of HRHR horses.

As we move into our fundraising season, we want to thank all of you for what you have helped to create over the last year. Heart of the Redwoods Horse Rescue is again thriving and rescuing horses. The horses who come to us have needs that must be met to prepare them for adoption. We will continue to need your help and would like to invite you to be horse rescuers, your generous donations make the work possible.

Charlie getting a lesson from Jody Swanlund.

Levi's damaged front left hoof upon intake.

Levi getting her first trim from Jessica White.