Q: I’ve been giving my 9-year-old Labrador Retriever, Cocoa, a healthy premium dog food, but she has continued to gain weight, even after I reduced her meal portions and started her on a special weight-loss-kibble diet. Her coat is thinning, and she seems tired to me. Is she just slowing down because of age? – Penny
A: Cocoa should undergo a full blood test, including a chemistry panel to evaluate all her organs, a CBC to evaluate her blood cells and a thyroid panel that contains at least a free T4 and T4 test for the thyroid to look for a physiological reason for her weight gain and loss of energy. Many veterinarians use laboratories that do combination panels so you can typically get all of this in one geriatric panel. If you find that Cocoa is hypothyroid, your veterinarian will place her on supplemental thyroid medication.
It’s not uncommon for older Labs to become hypothyroid. In addition to age and breed predilection, certain environmental factors affect thyroid function. Minimizing exposure to chemicals that adversely affect thyroid function would be a good idea.