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Assessment of criteria used by veterinary practitioners to diagnose hypothyroidism in sighthounds and investigation of serum thyroid hormone concentrations in healthy Salukis

Robert E. ShielUnit of Small Animal Clinical Studies, School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.

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MaryDee SistEndocrinology Section, Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, Lansing, MI 48910.

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Raymond F. NachreinerEndocrinology Section, Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, Lansing, MI 48910.

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Claire P. EhrlichCollege of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.

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Carmel T. MooneyUnit of Small Animal Clinical Studies, School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.

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Abstract

Objective—To assess use of serum thyroid hormone concentrations by veterinarians to diagnose hypothyroidism in sighthounds and to evaluate serum thyroid hormone concentrations in healthy Salukis.

Design—Retrospective case series and cross-sectional study.

Animals—398 sighthounds of various breeds with a diagnosis of hypothyroidism and 283 healthy Salukis.

Procedures—Pretreatment thyroid hormone assay results from sighthounds subsequently classified as hypothyroid by practitioners were retrieved from a laboratory database. In healthy Salukis, serum concentrations of total thyroxine (T4), free T4, total triiodothyronine (T3), free T3, and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and antibodies against thyroglobulin and thyroid hormones were assayed.

Results—Records indicated hypothyroidism had been diagnosed in 303 (76.1%) sight-hounds on the basis of low serum thyroid hormone concentrations alone and in 30 (7.5%) others despite all thyroid hormone indices being within reference limits. Only 65 (16.3%) dogs had a high TSH concentration or positive thyroglobulin autoantibody result to support the diagnosis. In healthy Salukis, median (reference limits) serum concentrations of total T4, free T4, total T3, free T3, and TSH were 13.0 nmol/L (2.8 to 40.0 nmol/L), 12.0 pmol/L (2.0 to 30.3 pmol/L), 1.0 nmol/L (0.4 to 2.1 nmol/L), 4.0 pmol/L (1.6 to 7.7 pmol/L), and 0.18 ng/mL (0 to 0.86 ng/mL), respectively.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Diagnosis of hypothyroidism by practitioners was most often made without adequate supportive laboratory evidence. Thyroid hormone values in healthy Salukis differed markedly from standard reference limits for some, but not all, thyroid hormone indices. Breed-specific reference limits should be used when interpreting thyroid hormone profiles of sighthounds.

Abstract

Objective—To assess use of serum thyroid hormone concentrations by veterinarians to diagnose hypothyroidism in sighthounds and to evaluate serum thyroid hormone concentrations in healthy Salukis.

Design—Retrospective case series and cross-sectional study.

Animals—398 sighthounds of various breeds with a diagnosis of hypothyroidism and 283 healthy Salukis.

Procedures—Pretreatment thyroid hormone assay results from sighthounds subsequently classified as hypothyroid by practitioners were retrieved from a laboratory database. In healthy Salukis, serum concentrations of total thyroxine (T4), free T4, total triiodothyronine (T3), free T3, and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and antibodies against thyroglobulin and thyroid hormones were assayed.

Results—Records indicated hypothyroidism had been diagnosed in 303 (76.1%) sight-hounds on the basis of low serum thyroid hormone concentrations alone and in 30 (7.5%) others despite all thyroid hormone indices being within reference limits. Only 65 (16.3%) dogs had a high TSH concentration or positive thyroglobulin autoantibody result to support the diagnosis. In healthy Salukis, median (reference limits) serum concentrations of total T4, free T4, total T3, free T3, and TSH were 13.0 nmol/L (2.8 to 40.0 nmol/L), 12.0 pmol/L (2.0 to 30.3 pmol/L), 1.0 nmol/L (0.4 to 2.1 nmol/L), 4.0 pmol/L (1.6 to 7.7 pmol/L), and 0.18 ng/mL (0 to 0.86 ng/mL), respectively.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Diagnosis of hypothyroidism by practitioners was most often made without adequate supportive laboratory evidence. Thyroid hormone values in healthy Salukis differed markedly from standard reference limits for some, but not all, thyroid hormone indices. Breed-specific reference limits should be used when interpreting thyroid hormone profiles of sighthounds.

Contributor Notes

Ms. Ehrlich was a first-year veterinary student at the time of the study.

Supported by the Saluki Club of America, the Society for the Perpetuation of Desert Bred Salukis, and Saluki Health Research Incorporated.

The authors thank Susan Beyerlein for assay performance and Dr. Kent Refsal for technical assistance.

Address correspondence to Mr. Shiel (robert.shiel@ucd.ie).