The 5 Domains Series: Health - Managing hypothyroidism in Tanami the dingo
Part of providing positive animal welfare is ensuring that the health of every animal in our care is regularly monitored, assessed, and managed.
Our Head Veterinarian and hospital team work closely with the keepers to make sure this happens, so back in 2017 when our female dingo, Tanami, started showing some abnormalities in her coat and weight, the hospital team were quick to act and determine the cause.
Tanami has a condition known as hypothyroidism, a fairly common disease that can affect all dog breeds but is most common in middle-aged, medium to large dogs.
The dingo keepers had noticed that Tanami wasn’t looking quite herself. Her usually glossy ginger coat was a bit coarse and scruffy. This, coupled with the fact that she had an unexpected weight gain despite a decrease in food, led to a further investigation from the hospital team.
A series of blood tests confirmed that Tanami has a condition known as hypothyroidism, a fairly common disease that can affect all dog breeds but is most common in middle-aged, medium to large dogs.
Hypothyroidism means that the thyroid gland is not producing enough of the hormone ‘thyroxine’, which plays a crucial role in many of the body’s systems, including controlling metabolism. All of Tanami’s symptoms were standard for canine hypothyroidism.
To manage this condition Tanami receives a twice-daily thyroid hormone replacement tablet, as well as six-monthly blood tests to check that her hormone levels are being adequately controlled by the medication.
To address the issues with her skin and coat, Tanami actually had a visit to a specialist doggy-dermatologist and was placed on a dermal skin care diet. Unfortunately, our discerning dingo wasn’t a big fan of this special diet, so she has now been switched back to her normal food with a sneaky dose of the omega fatty acid supplement, Megaderm, to help with her fur. Her coat may still be a bit scruffy, but at least her tummy is full.
Tanami will require lifelong medication and hormone checks to monitor her condition, however she is an otherwise happy and healthy dingo who enjoys going on her daily walks and engaging in different enrichment activities such as food scavenger hunts. Some of her favourite things to do whilst out on a walk include stopping by to check in on the wombats in their den and finding different smelly things to roll around in.
If you’re lucky enough to catch Tanami out for a walk with one of her keepers, be sure to come say ‘g’day’ and give her a pat on her (slightly scruffy) back.