Euthyroid Sick Syndrome in Dogs with Idiopathic Epilepsy before Treatment with Anticonvulsant Drugs

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Euthyroid sick syndrome is a common finding in dogs and is attributable to nonthyroidal illness or treatment with any of a variety of drugs such as phenobarbital. In dogs with epilepsy, treatment with anticonvulsant drugs can lead to subnormal plasma thyroid hormone concentrations despite normal thyroid function. One-hundred thirteen dogs with seizure activity were retrospectively evaluated to determine the influence of idiopathic epilepsy (IE) on thyroid hormone concentrations. Blood samples were taken from 60 dogs with IE before initiation of anticonvulsant therapy. Control groups consisted of 34 dogs with IE and receiving anticonvulsants and 19 dogs with secondary epilepsy. Thyroid concentrations consistent with euthyroid sick syndrome were diagnosed in 38% of dogs with untreated IE without clinical signs of hypothyroidism or concomitant diseases. There was a significant correlation (r = 0.363, P = .01) between seizure frequency and plasma thyroid hormone concentrations: the longer the interval between 2 seizure events, the higher the serum total thyroxine concentration. There was no correlation between the degree of alteration of thyroid hormone concentrations and the time span between the most recent seizure event and blood collection, the type of the most recent seizure event, the duration of the complete seizure history, or the predominant seizure type. These results suggest that IE can be a reason for euthyroid sick syndrome in dogs. The effect of phenobarbital on plasma thyroid hormone concentrations must be investigated in future studies, as it might be less pronounced than expected.

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