Hypercalcemia in Dogs
Behind the thyroid gland in the neck, there lie four parathyroid glands which secrete the hormone the body needs to regulate calcium and phosphorus. Parathyroid hormone and vitamin D interactions work to release calcium from the bones, gut, and kidneys for deposit into the bloodstream. When these interactions are disturbed, or when cancerous cells secrete hormones that interfere with calcium regulation, hypercalcemia can result. Hypercalcemia is characterized by an abnormally high amount of calcium in the blood. A dog is considered hypercalcemic when its total serum calcium is greater than 11.5 mg/dL.
Symptoms and Types
- Increased urination
- Increased thirst
- Lack of appetite (anorexia)
- Decreased gastrointestinal function
- Lack of energy/fatigue/lethargy
- Enlarged lymph nodes (swelling in neck)
- Bladder stones
- Stupor and coma in severe cases
- Abnormal or over functioning of the parathyroid gland (hyperparathyroidism)
- Cancer or tumors
- Bone deteriorating diseases
- Kidney failure - sudden or long-term
- Under-functioning adrenal glands
- Vitamin D poisoning: from rodenticides, plants, or food (supplements included)
- Aluminum toxicity
Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam, with a blood chemistry profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. While a high serum is crucial to the diagnosis of hypercalcemia, the results of the other tests will help to indicate the origin of the hypercalcemia.
Radiograph and ultrasound imaging can also be used for diagnosing underlying conditions, such as kidney disease, bladder stones, or cancer. Fine needle aspirates (liquids) from the lymph nodes and bone marrow can be used for diagnoses of lymphoma, or cancer of the blood.
If your dog has been diagnosed with hypercalcemia, your veterinarian will very likely want to hospitalize it for fluid therapy. Once the primary disease is diagnosed, your dog will be given the appropriate medication(s). Your doctor will continue to check your dog’s serum calcium twice a day during its stay at the veterinary clinic, until calcium levels have returned to normal.
Living and Management
Your veterinarian will set up a schedule of follow-up appointments for your dog dependent on the underlying cause of the hypercalcemia.
A gland found in the neck of humans and animals that secretes glands responsible for metabolic rate, calcitonin, and others.
An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness
The name for four glands that are located on the top of the thyroid gland that help to regulate the amount of calcium in the blood
Small structures that filter out the lymph and store lymphocytes
The condition of being drowsy, listless, or weak
The digestive tract containing the stomach and intestine
A term for a type of neoplasm that is made up of lymphoid tissue; these masses are usually malignant in nature