Thyroid Testing Guidlines

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The following correspondence has been received from Dr Aine Seavers in relation to testing Basenjis for Thyroid dysfunction. A guide and best practice for testing thyroid is attached. It is suggested that owners provide this guide to their vet prior to any thyroid diagnostics.

I have had a recent run of cases being diagnosed as Hypothyroid on the basis of a low TT4. You would think after all the blood, sweat, tears and money we all poured into alerting owners and vets not to do this it would not still be happening. It seems a timely reminder is needed for all Basenji owners on the very specific aspects of thyroid in our breed.

1)No dog but especially NO Basenji should ever be considered Hypothyroid on the basis of one blood test taken in one moment in time.

2)TT4 should never be read alone:TT4 should always be paired with cTSH and repeated to get a ‘trend’ or pattern.

3)FT4 in 2018 as the test stands offers Nothing (other than expense and delay)over the combination of TT4 and cTSH.

4)TgAA is an unreliable test at the best of times, is age restricted and if the Basenji I have followed after TgAA tests are anything to go by this is a very dangerous test to use in a small gene pool. Despite TgAA results of concern-many of the dogs were followed for years and never had any issues in life nor on their thyroid biopsy. What would have been an issue is for such healthy stock to have been pulled from our small gene pool on the basis such a blood test that would have seen some of the best healthiest dogs I have ever dealt either not being bred from or indeed ever born!

5)Older Basenji that are Hypothyroid are often thin – the norm in other breeds is to gain wt but 20% of all hypothyroids, of all breeds, are in fact Thin. The Basenji like to sit in the 20% Occult & Thin zone.

6)The How/Where/When of the blood test being done is also important-please don’t do any thyroid test on any in-heat, pregnant, lactating, or vaccinated animals within 100 days of any of those events.

7) Most Basenji -especially those over 7 years will have a low to very low test result but are in most case normal thyroid status.

To ensure we are all on the same wavelength- I have attached a pdf above for owners and vets to use to ensure all results are interpreted fully for any given Basenji to maximise the accuracy of the result; but also minimise the risk that good genes get pulled from the gene pool and/or the individual Basenji avoids unneeded and often painful thyroid supplementation.

Many thanks for spreading the message, together we have rewritten the Endocrinology textbooks and been cited in peer-reviewed literature as other researchers agree with our findings of low TT4 being normal for sighthounds. 

It would be a shame to let all that work slide back into how it was back in the bad old 1990s when USA labs pushed screening tests without reference to the breed and the individual pet’s need.

Best practice guide for members and their vets

We suggest the following guide and best practice for testing thyroid be downloaded. It is suggested that owners provide this guide to their vet prior to any thyroid diagnostics.

Thyroid Testing Guide

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