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Horse Hypothyroidism: Symptoms and Diagnosis Test

When the levels of thyroid hormones are too low in your horse, it is often difficult to diagnose and treat this condition.

Essential for your horseís healthy metabolism and level of energy, the functioning of the thyroid made be adversely impacted when thyroid hormone levels or their release are insufficient. Horse owners should be on the lookout for energy related symptoms, such as an overall weakness, low energy, or goiter. Metabolic changes, such as sudden spikes in weight and infertility have also been linked to hypothyroidism. Other symptoms include laminitis, loss of luster of the coat, and tendon problems in foals.
Tests to diagnose hypothyroidism usually involve blood work, where the veterinarian will check the T3 or T4 level. When diagnosed, the common treatment consists of feed additives containing thyroid hormones. Unfortunately, supplementing the feed if there is a different condition at work in the horseís body may actually spell more trouble! For example, if the body considers the supplementation to be excessive, the thyroid may decide to decrease its normal production of hormones, thus actually causing hypothyroidism. Add to this the fact that excessive supplementation in humans has been linked to undesirable side effect, such as heart problems, and you will have to agree that caution is warranted.

It is not surprising that because of these dangers this kind of testing has come under scrutiny, since some kinds of these hormones may be deemed active while others are considered inactive, yet they are still having a heavy bearing on the outcome of the test. In addition to the foregoing, the administration of drugs and even changes in feed may influence the levels of thyroid hormones. To make matters worse for the testers, it has been discovered that within a horseís body there is a complex system of hormonal regulation which directly affects the thyroid gland. Thus, thyroid levels may fluctuate from hour to hour and day to day, without this being an indication of hypothyroidism.

To this end, many horse aficionados have concluded that in order to receive an accurate test result, there needs to be a periodic sampling of blood which takes into account normal fluctuations. This will permit adequate treatments to be undertaken, and it will avoid false-positive results that may lead to an unnecessary treatment of the thyroid. Another test that has garnered a lot of favor involves the administration of the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which occurs naturally in the horseís pituitary gland. During clinical tests veterinarians will be able to ascertain the thyroid glandís response to the increased TSH will in turn will give an accurate measurement of the glandís level of functioning.

It is obvious that much more research is warranted. Similarly, because of the adverse effects of misdiagnosis, it is imperative that thyroid supplementation not take place based on guesses, but only cold, hard data which is further supported by the horseís condition improving in response to treatment.



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