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In human medicine, behavioral and psychological changes associated with thyroid dysfunction were noted in the nineteenth century. Scattered reports of aggression and hyperactivity in hypothyroid dogs suggested that dogs also might exhibit a wider repertoire of behaviors in response to low thyroid levels. In dogs, as in humans, behavioral signs often precede the more traditional skin, coat and metabolic changes characteristic of the condition.
Of my 10 cases with hypothyroidism there was considerable or nearly total improvement in their behavior once thyroid supplementation was given and dosage stabilized. Our figures have been similar, but we have only submitted blood on dogs which we suspect might be hypothyroid based on other signs of disease, breed or combination of behavioral signs. Data collected over the same period for 20 dogs with dominance aggression treated with behavior modification, exercise, diet and Promise Collars alone, showed that one dog was euthanatized for worsening behavior, two were placed after failure to improve or worsening of behavior, 3 failed to improve and 3 showed less than 25% improvement. After our initial success with aggressive dogs, we have looked at the role of hypothyroidism in other behavioral conditions. Psychiatrists at Harvard Medical School have recently used low level thyroxine replacement for euthyroid and suboptimal thyroid normal patients with some success. Follow-up: Five days after dog started on thyroid replacement therapy the owner took it to a neighborhood park and let it play off leash with a number of dogs. Problem: Aggression directed at owner, her husband and his teenage daughters from a previous marriage. Discussion: While these are two of the more dramatic cases of hypothyroid aggression we have treated, they are illustrative of the response we have experienced.
At Tufts we have seriously considered obtaining a thyroid panel on all dogs presented for evaluation, and we feel that it is a very good screen for a condition which may underlie a wide variety of behavioral problems, and one which is relatively easily and cheaply treated. You are definitely in the right place if you are looking for doggie boot camp, dog training boot camp, doggy boot camp, bootcamp dog training, board and train dog training, boot camp training for dogs, send away dog training, drop off dog training, puppy boot camp or dog boarding and training.
The first thing you need to do, whether your dog is aggressive or not, is to get your dog under control. Call Superdog for ADA SERVICE DOG training and for training emotional support and comfort dogs. Recently I had an old high school friend reach out to me through Facebook about her dog.  She noticed that her dog, who has always been a bit of a handful and not to fond of other dogs, had recently escalated her aggressive behavior.
As I do with all clients who call me about aggression or reactivity, I asked for her to tell me about her dogs history. Although not commonly talked about, there is a connection between aggressive, reactive and anxious behavior and low thyroid. If the test comes back with a positive finding for low thyroid – I know that working with the dog and reconditioning the learned reactive behavior will be much easier. Low thyroid can be one part of the puzzle for aggressive, reactive or anxious behavior but the second part is teaching the dog a new response to it’s previous triggers.
The behavioral abnormalities seen in the hyperthyroid cat have been well described in the literature, and mimic closely the restlessness, insomnia and irritability or aggression described in humans with thyrotoxicosis.

Dodds DVM unpublished data As of January this year, 319 cases of dogs with a variety of behavior problems had been presented to Dr. While some breeds are clearly more prone to thyroid disease than others, our data include two Bichon Frises which both proved to be hypothyroid and responded behaviorally quite well to thyroid replacement therapy, although this is not a breed which has shown much evidence of hypothyroidism in the past. Aggression is the most common behavior problem among dogs presented to our clinic for treatment.
Although the sample size is not large, the successful outcome of cases treated with thyroid replacement was significantly better than that of those treated with behavioral modification alone. Although the sample size is too small to be conclusive, it would certainly seem worthwhile to look for an underlying thyroid deficiency in these cases.
They feel that the thyroid damps down the background noise in the brain, thereby enabling the patients to function better.
She reported that the dog showed no aggression and it played like a puppy, including a game of tug-of-war over a stick played with a puppy. 7mg levothyroxine sodium PO q 12h, and within a week aggressive behavior had decreased by 60-70%, Its aggression continued to decrease over subsequent weeks. It is our recommendation that hypothyroidism be considered as a rule out for dogs and horses showing inappropriate aggression. Shop smart for aggressive dog training and know if your puppy's aggressiveness warrants a dog aggression expert rather than an obedience dog trainer. Jean Dodds is well known in the dog behavior and training world for her work with studying aggression and its link to low thyroid. Approximately 80% of hyperthyroid cats are hyperactive, while 10-25% are reported to be aggressive, Cats, as well as people, may experience the rarer manifestation of apathetic thyrotoxicosis, characterized by lethargy and depression.
One case has since slipped back a little, but became better again once thyroid dosage was increased slightly. Most of these dogs were placed on behavior modification programs, and it was recommended that exercise should be increased, and dietary protein reduced. We have also successfully treated one case where a hypothyroid horse exhibited intraspecies aggression with thyroid replacement.
Similarly, other behavioral conditions have shown variable response to thyroid supplementation.
In humans, and seemingly in dogs, mental function is impaired and the animal is likely to respond to stress in a stereotypical rather than a reasoned fashion. In a limited number of cases where we have tried to boost dogs with suboptimal but normal thyroid levels into the optimal range, we have failed to achieve behavioral improvement. It should also be a rule out for dogs which show an inability to learn or concentrate on the owner, or for older dogs which have developed a personality change either rapidly or more gradually. Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder in people with generalized resistance to thyroid hormone. We have not seen much improvement in those dogs we have treated with seizure-related disorders, although Dodds has found seizure activity to be responsive to thyroid replacement, however, our sample size is extremely small.

We have noted that the type of aberrant behavior exhibited by hypothyroid dogs tends to be typical of the behavioral problems seen for its breed, or predominant breed, rather than hypothyroidism producing a specific behavioral problem. Prior to that time there had been three isolated incidents of aggression when the dog was confronted over food or stolen objects either by the owner or children the dog knew well. It is probably a good rule out for dogs which exhibit fears or anxieties and possibly for some dogs with compulsive disorders. In Braverman LE, Utiger RD (eds) Werner and Ingbar’s The thyroid, a fundamental and clinical text (7th edition).
In Braverman LE, Utiger RD (eds) Werner and Ingbar’s The thyroid- a fundamental and clinical text (7th edition). Following her lead, we believe that truly euthyroid dogs in most breeds should have hormonal levels falling in the upper half of previously accepted normal ranges, This is particularly true of dogs under 18 months of age. One case with bizarre erratic behavior had very normal levels of thyroid and I advised retesting in 6-12 months.
Its particularly remarkable in cases of working obedience dogs, as their owners are very aware of performance nuances – such as changes in power of concentration which wanes with thyroid imbalance and is restored on supplement. Similarly, the horse mentioned earlier showed a rapid resumption of aggression when its dose was halved while its owner awaited the arrival of more medication. Other behavioral symptoms have included fear – ranging from mild anxiety to frank paranoia, mood swings and aggression.
Major depression has, in turn, been shown in imaging studies to cause changes in neural activity or volume in the amygdala, prefrontal cortex and hippocampus – areas of the brain which regulate aggressive and other behaviors.
It showed appropriate aggression when other dogs acted aggressively towards it, or if they were too exuberant in their greeting.
In the other case a dog with fear and intraspecies aggression had not been helped with amitryptiline, and the dog was completely weaned from the drug after complete remission of its aggression on thyroxine. The role of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin has been clearly demonstrated in aggressive pathways in the CNS. Some cases in which elevated autoantibody levels indicate autoimmune disease would otherwise have been considered thyroid normal at the time of presentation. On two subsequent occasions the efficacy of the thyroxine in controlling the dog’s aggression was demonstrated. Interestingly, several of the dogs which failed to respond to thyroid replacement or in which response was suboptimal have subsequently been treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants either without or with limited success. Given the far reaching effects of thyroid hormones throughout the body it is likely that these as well as other mechanisms are involved in its behavioral role. On the second occasion the owner ran out of medication and the dog was not medicated for 48h, Within 24h aggression had returned to the same level it had been at prior to medication, After thyroxine supplementation was resumed aggression was extinguished over the subsequent 2-5days.

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