Sunday, June 09, 2013
Blame the behaviour or blame the bloodwork?
I had an interesting case where a dog presented for his annual exam and his owners began to discuss what had happened 6 months prior. At that time, the owners had noticed a significant weight gain of several kilograms and the dog had begun to resource guard food, very out of character for their middle-aged dog. Sure enough, 6 months prior there was a note in the file documenting a conversation with one of our clinic's up front staff, recommending the dog come in for a physical exam and possible bloodwork. The dog was not seen by a veterinarian at this time, but the owners sought the help of a trainer and began to increase exercise and decrease the calories in his diet. By the time they came in for an exam, the dog's weight was back to normal and the resource guarding had stopped.
I ran a full blood panel on the dog, and the only abnormality was a thyroid level in the borderline-low range. Had the dog presented 6 months prior for his issues, I would have likely started medication, as well as recommended the changes that the owners implemented on their own. I wonder, in some cases of low thyroid levels being blamed for behaviour, did the real improvement come from everything else we did, and not from medication? It's important to remember that correlation does not equal causation.