The AKC Canine Health Foundation Announces Funding to Address Canine Thyroid Disease


The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to prevent, treat and cure diseases in all dogs, announces an exciting new grant that aims to address thyroid disease in dogs. Funding for this grant is made possible by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), a long-time partner of CHF.

Hypothyroidism is one of the most common endocrine disorders in adult dogs with a majority of cases caused by autoimmune thyroiditis (AIT). The dog’s own immune system attacks the thyroid gland causing progressive, irreversible destruction of thyroid gland cells resulting in loss of thyroid hormone production. This disorder is similar to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a leading cause of hypothyroidism in people.

Brian Petroff, DVM, PhD and Kent R. Refsal, DVM, PhD, of Michigan State University will study dogs with elevated thyroglobulin autoantibodies (TgAA) as a marker for early stage AIT. Identification of elevated TgAA with otherwise normal thyroid hormone concentrations is referred to as ‘subclinical thyroiditis.’ Dogs with subclinical thyroiditis are considered at risk of progression to hypothyroidism. It is assumed that while dogs with subclinical thyroiditis have increased TgAA, the rate of progression to hypothyroidism varies, and not all dogs with increased TgAA will become hypothyroid. Drs. Petroff and Refsal aim to more accurately define the proportion of dogs that subsequently develop hypothyroidism, and a progression timeline.

“Year after year, thyroid disease has been listed among the top ten parent club health concerns. The OFA is pleased to join our long-standing partner, the AKC Canine Health Foundation, and one of the country’s leading endocrine labs at Michigan State University, in pursuing and funding this important research,” said Eddie Dziuk, OFA chief operating officer.

“OFA continues to be a strong ally in our mission to improve the health and wellness of all dogs,” said Dr. Diane Brown, CHF CEO. “Thyroid disease remains an important canine health concern, and this project will help us better understand the progression of thyroid disorders in dogs, with potential to improve understanding of the disease in humans as well.”


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