This disorder is the result of excessive secretion of PTH, which is the parathyroid hormone. There are several parathyroid glands in the neck. This results in elevated calcium in the bloodstream. Excessive calcium can have harmful effects in dogs.
Hyperparathyroidism is usually a benign tumor called an adenoma. The occurrence of malignant parathyroid tumors is rare. Primary tumors are prevalent in dogs. Older dogs are more susceptible with the average age being ten years. There is no difference in gender occurrence. Keeshonds are the only breed that has a significantly higher incidence. There has been a genetic marker found in Keeshonds that are associated with primary hyperparathyroidism.
Initially the slightly elevated calcium does not cause any symptoms. As time moves on and calcium continues to rise, several clinical symptoms arise. The three systems that are usually affected by these elevated calcium levels are the nervous system, kidneys and the gastrointestinal tract.
Signs and Symptoms
Be on the alert if your dog shows any of the following symptoms.
• Stiff gait
• Decrease in muscle mass
• Urine may be bloody, your dog can have difficulty passing urine and there will be an increase in the frequency
• Standard blood tests will be performed by your vet including calcium levels
• A complete medical history and physical exam will be performed as well
• EKG will be done to evaluate the electrical activity of the heart. Calcium can affect heart rhythm
• Ultrasound of the neck
Admission to a veterinary hospital is likely. If the calcium levels are exceptionally high, there are several medications as well as intravenous fluids that will be administered. Removing the affected parathyroid gland surgically is the next step in treatment.
Any surgical procedure will cause Dog Pain. Your veterinarian will most likely prescribe pain medication and it should be given as directed. By keeping your dog comfortable, you can hasten recovery. Providing comfortable sleeping areas will also aid in that comfort. If your dog is crate trained, you may notice him using the crate more frequently during the recovery period. This is your dog’s safe place and when in pain they seek areas of comfort more frequently.
It is also possible that your dog will have low calcium post operatively. This can occur within the first week after surgery. Be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of dangerously low calcium:
• You may notice your dog panting more
• Your dog may appear nervous and edgy
• There can be muscle twitching
• Leg cramps are possible
• Your dogs gait may become stiff
• If too severe, Dog Seizures may occur
Currently the cause of primary hyperparathyroidism is not known. Due to that fact, there is no way to prevent it.
By providing your dog with the prescribed pain medication and a comfortable place to sleep, you will play a big part in their recovery. Should you notice any severe changes, notify your veterinarian.
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