Mrs Rusbridge who is the RCVS European Specialist in Veterinary Neurology recently gave a full health MOT to Reno the first male Lagotto that Ann Kemp and I imported into the UK. Reno had suddenly become uncharacteristically grouchy and needed a check up to establish whether his sudden change in behaviour could be caused by a health problem. Bearing in mind that he might be a carrier (a dog that has never shown signs of the disease but can “carry” the defective gene undetected to the next generation), it seemed sensible that he should be checked by Mrs Rusbridge in case he was developing a neurological problem. So Reno had the works (including MRI Scan) to see if anything showed up out of the ordinary. Nothing remotely neurological other than his brain looked very dense confirming what I’ve always suspected that Reno is sixpence short of a pound. (only joking) However he was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. This is a common endocrine disease in dogs which is a deficiency in the secretion of thyroid hormone. It is easily diagnosed by a blood test and very easily and successfully treated with a daily tablet of Soloxine. Many breeds seem predisposed to developing hypothyroidism so it is not unusual to find cases occurring in Lagotto. Reno aged nine is the second Lagotto in the UK to develop hypothyroidism. His niece Fresca developed it much earlier at about the age of three and a half after her first litter. Fresca’s father Lorenzo is Reno’s litter brother so there could be a familial predisposition or it could be co-incidence. The only way to establish if this is familial is by keeping careful records over the next ten years or so. Therefore it is important that the Club is notified if your Lagotto develops this condition. Since originally writing this a third Lagotto has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Like Reno and Fresca he has been prescribed Soloxine and one pill a day will keep him in tiptop shape.

So what are the signs? Most often lethargy; disinclination to get up in the morning and take exercise: marked increase in weight. Thinning of hair on the body and muzzle sometimes with skin thickening and other skin problems. This condition can cause sudden mood swings so it is quite possible that Reno’s grumpiness was due to his hormone deficiency. After six weeks treatment with Soloxine his blood was tested again to determine whether he was on the correct daily dosage. He was and within a couple of months he was back to his loveable if slightly dim self.

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