Cardiac & Thyroid
Do Collies Have Heart Problems?
In my experience, yes. I suspect there are more problems than we know based on the lack of screening as puppies and adults. I feel that cardiac issues should be watched closely as heart issues can be found in puppies even though parents have cleared as normal. Screening as both puppies and adults can catch potential issues in related breeding stock. Heart defects can impact the quality of life of puppies or adults in varying degrees and many dogs can appear to have no symptoms and live normal lives. I believe that testing is an important tool since a 'normal appearance' can be deceiving. Dogs can have serious heart defects that are undetected until the dog needs surgery or experiences significant physical exertion or stress.
The severity of heart issues can vary. Occasionally puppies will have a mild 'puppy murmur' that resolves as the body continues to grow and mature. These puppies should be tracked and re-examined as they grow to determine if the murmur resolves or remains both for the benefit of the owner and for the breeder.
Are There Thyroid Problems in Collies?
There are thyroid problems in dogs period and Collies are no exception. The key to reducing issues in the breed is thru screening and understanding family history. While a 'normal' screening is not necessarily a requirement for breeding by all breeders, understanding the testing result is important in balancing the health decisions for all breedings.
The majority of dogs affected with thyroid issues are hypothyroid. Symptoms can vary from weight gain to lethargy to skin and coat issues and even to temperament irregularities and a possible influence of seizure activity. The majority of low thyroid results are due to autoimmune thyroiditis which is an inherited component. Idiopathically Reduced Thyroid Function occurs less frequently and as the name suggests has no specific cause in the reduction of thyroid function. Diet and environment can play a part in both the expression and severity of symptoms regardless of the cause. The symptons can be minimal or they can have an impact on quality of life. Some dogs may test low only with no symptoms and will not require any medication to improve the life of the dog. In terms of the 'problems' dogs can have, hypothyroid is easily and cost effectively managed thru medication.
Diagnosis of thyroid issues can be difficult as the symptoms mimic many other possible causes. A full thyroid panel by a reputable lab is important in targeting thyroid function as a culprit. While overall thyroid issues are not a major health issue in comparison to other issues, thyroid screening is another layer in screening breeding stock.
How Do You Test For Thyroid problems?
Thyroid testing is done via a blood draw by a general practitioner. To have results listed on the OFA site, specific instructions and forms are required which can be found HERE.
I highly recommend testing via Hemopet (www.hemopet.org) due to the expanded testing panels available as well as breed specific interpretation.