Hypothyroidism is the most common, heritable endocrine disorder of dogs. Up to 80% of cases result from an autoimmune disease that progressivley destroys the thyroid gland, called autoimmune thyroiditis. Once this disease has destroyed more than 75% of the thyroid gland, clinical signs of hypothyroidism (low thyroid function)appear. Because the thyroid gland regulates metabolism of all body cellular functions, hypothyroidism can produce a wide range of clinical signs, causing neuromuscular problems, reproductive disorders, eye diseases, and more. Our dogs can have chronic infections, incontinence, infertility, absence of heat cycles, dying and stillborn pups, dry eye, and bleeding disorders. Dogs can also show unprovoked aggresssion, exhibit fearfulness or anxiety, or have seizures. Individuals genetically susceptible to autoimmune thyroid disease may also become more prone to immune mediated disease. This is a disease that has significant implications for breeding stock, and is certainly cause for serious concern to anyone who owns and loves a Kerry Blue Terrier.
Presently Dr. Lorna Kennedy at the University of Manchester in England is trying to find the gene that causes Autoimmune Thyroiditis in Kerries. If the gene is located, then a test can be developed that will allow breeders to test for that gene before breeding their Kerry. By NOT breeding affected Kerries, Autoimmune Thyroiditis can be eliminated from the gene pool of our wonderful breed. This is a project that is crucial to the future health of our Kerries.
The Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation, in affiliation with Dr. Jean Dodds of California, have been given an opportunity to help with this research. We are presently looking for 50 Kerries to participate by donating blood. (A copy of the dog's pedigree must be included.) The samples will then be shipped overnight to Dr. Dodds at Hemopet who will process the blood and forward it to Dr. Kennedy in England. In exchange for each Kerry that gives a blood sample, Dr. Dodds will be providing their owners with a complete thyroid panel, free of charge.(a $65 value!) For the purposes of this study a copy of each dogs pedigree would also be needed, from any registry. With your help, this research has a great chance of success, and we can all gain by protecting our Kerries, for many generations to come. We are asking that anyone that plans to send blood please contact Peggy Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may keep track of how many donors we have. And thank you for helping a great breed become healthier.