Hyperparathyroidism In Dogs: How Does It Affect Them?

Hyperparathyroidism is a condition characterized by an abnormal secretion of parathyroid hormone. This hormone is involved in various processes in the body.
Hyperparathyroidism in dogs: how does it affect them?

The thyroid glands are small glands in the throat with a characteristic butterfly shape. Sometimes one or more stop working properly,  leading to conditions such as hyperparathyroidism in dogs, cats and other breeds.

What is hyperparathyroidism in dogs?

Hyperparathyroidism is defined as a condition in which the parathyroid gland (one of four pea-sized organs in the thyroid gland) produces too much parathyroid hormone.

This leads to loss of calcium from the bones and higher concentration of calcium in the blood. Symptoms include leg pain and kidney problems.

The parathyroid gland is small and plays a vital role in regulating calcium levels. It secretes parathyroid hormone, which increases the amount of calcium in the blood and also affects the intestines, bones and kidneys.

One of the main functions of this hormone is the hydroxylation of vitamin D in the kidneys. This activation triggers a series of reactions and activates the proteins that regulate calcium absorption in the intestines.


This disease is divided into two groups  called primary hyperparathyroidism and secondary hyperparathyroidism.

Primary hyperparathyroidism

This occurs when a change in the parathyroid gland occurs. The main consequence of this is the secretion of large amounts of parathyroid hormone.

The main cause is in turn the presence of adenoma (a non-cancerous growth). Sometimes , however, it can also be the result of carcinoma (a cancerous growth) or hyperplasia (enlargement of the gland).

Hyper secretion of the hormone causes the body to reabsorb calcium from different regions, causing hypercalcemia.

This hypercalcemia in turn leads to changes in various parts of the body,  such as the kidneys, the lower urinary tract, the heart, etc.

Tired dog on the floor

Secondary hyperparathyroidism in dogs

This type has two subgroups. This condition is a homestatic response triggered by low levels of ionized calcium in the blood.

Secondary hyperparathyroidism caused by the kidneys occurs as a result of a drop in the calcium concentration in the blood plasma. This leads to increased hormone release and decreased glomerular filtration.

Nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism, in turn, is a metabolic condition caused by hyper secretion of the hormone in question over a long period of time.

In both cases, calcium plays an important role. Calcium is a structural component of bones and teeth, and is therefore an essential mineral for the body.

It also has a series of other uses, including acting as an intracellular messenger and participating in processes such as blood clotting and muscle contractions.

The effects of hyperparathyroidism in dogs?

In general, it is quite uncommon for dogs to suffer from this disease, and cats even more so. Normally, only older animals are affected.

Dog is allowed to squirt

The prognosis will vary depending on the symptoms of the animal. The most common are polyuria (increased amounts of urine), incontinence, muscle weakness, vomiting and tremors.

The prognosis becomes worse if the veterinarian detects the presence of kidney problems.

To diagnose hyperparathyroidism, the veterinarian must first take a blood sample. This will allow the person concerned to  confirm whether the animal is affected and to establish its general health.

A treatment plan will then be arranged based on the test results. If hypercalcaemia is detected, treatment must be started immediately, even if the exact cause is not certain.

If there is a parathyroid tumor, the treatment will almost certainly suggest one of two treatments. The first is to remove the tumor with surgery and the second a less aggressive form of treatment, such as ablation.

The size of the tumor will determine which option is best.

After the operation, the veterinarian will monitor the calcium levels in the blood. In some cases, the animal may develop hypocalcaemia after surgery, in which case it must be treated with vitamin D and calcium.

It is important to be aware that the  treatment will vary depending on the severity of the condition. The veterinarian will primarily try to check for damage to the dog’s kidneys.

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