Elevated Calcium Levels in Dogs

Elevated calcium levels in dogs may be caused by a number of medical conditions. The dog receives the diagnosis of hypercalcemia if the calcium levels in the blood stream are over 12 mg/dl. Puppies and pregnant dogs may have higher calcium levels. Detecting the possible cause of hypercalcemia is important to get suitable treatment.

Causes of Elevated Calcium Levels in Dogs

The calcium level in the blood stream is determined by the activity of the dog’s entire system and the production of certain hormones (e.g. calcitrion and parathyroid hormone). The calcium levels may fluctuate during the day and may also be determined by the dog’s diet. However, when the dog has abnormally high calcium levels, this may be due to a few possible conditions:

  • Hyperparathyroidism, which means that the parathyroid glands secret a high amount of parathyroid hormones, leading to an increase in the calcium levels
  • The presence of cancerous cells in the body
  • Kidney disease
  • Toxicity with various substances such as lead or vitamin D
  • Severe dehydration
  • Addison’s disease, which is a deficiency in the adrenal hormone production

Symptoms of Hypercalcemia in Dogs

The symptoms of elevated calcium levels may be indicative of the underlying condition and may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Polyuria (frequent urination)
  • Polydypsia (increased thirst)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • General state of weakness
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Increased blood sugar
  • Dehydration
  • Sudden collapse and coma

Diagnosing Elevated Calcium Levels in Canines

Your vet will have to measure the calcium level in your pet. He will consider the fact that the calcium may be higher immediately after a meal or if your dog is younger or pregnant. Special attention must be paid to avoid using lab dishes that may contain a high concentration of detergents, which may also lead to inexact test results and typically higher calcium levels. Other tests performed to detect possible underlying condition may include:

  • A physical examination to find a hidden tumor
  • A biopsy of tumors found
  • A CBC — complete blood count
  • The PTH level test, to assess the function of the parathyroid glands
  • An ACTH stimulation test, which can establish if there is a deficiency of adrenal hormones
  • A urine test, to see if the excess of calcium is eliminated
  • X-rays and ultrasounds to find tumors or to see if there are any bladder or kidney stones, which can form due to the excess calcium in the body

High Calcium Treatment Options

Treatment for high calcium in dogs is necessary, especially if the concentration of calcium is very high. If left untreated, the condition can cause the mineralization of tissues and vital organs. Furosemide can be administered to help the elimination of the excess calcium from the blood stream and the system. Prednisone can be prescribed as well, as this drug can facilitate the elimination of the calcium from the kidneys. The excess calcium from the bones will be extracted using diphosphonates.