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Hypoparathyroidism in Dogs

Hypoparathyroidism in dogs causes hypocalcemia.

Hypoparathyroidism is a condition in which the parathyroid gland isn't secreting enough hormone. The result is hypocalcemia (not enough calcium in the bloodstream).

The parathyroid gland is next to the thyroid in the front of a dog's neck. It monitors calcium levels and releases parathyroid hormone (PTH) when those levels are too low to stimulate calcium production.

Causes of Hypoparathyroidism in Dogs

In dogs, hypoparathyroidism is relatively rare, and it's most commonly caused by idiopathic immune-mediated parathyroiditis. That means that, for an unknown reason, the body's own immune system attacks the parathyroid gland.

The condition may have a genetic component because it's seen more often in miniature Schnauzers, German shepherds, labs, and Scottish terriers.

Calcium helps control muscle contractions, contributes to blood clotting, aids in bone growth, and helps with nerve conduction, so low calcium levels can cause a dog a lot of problems.

Signs of Canine Hypoparathyroidism

Signs of hypoparathyroidism in dogs include:

  • Seizures
  • Muscle twitching
  • Decreased heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Wobbliness
  • Fever
  • Panting
  • Cataracts
  • Weakness
  • Increased drinking and urination
  • Rubbing at the face
  • Vomiting
  • Not eating

Some dogs may not show any signs of the condition.

Diagnosis of Hypoparathyroidism in Dogs

Other causes of seizures and weakness, like heart problems, neurological issues, and epilepsy, must be ruled out. Also, toxin exposure can cause similar signs.

Blood tests on a dog with hypoparathyroidism may show low calcium and high phosphorus levels.

A blood test can be done to check PTH (parathyroid hormone) levels specifically. If a dog has low calcium, low PTH, and no other positive test results for other issues, hypoparathyroidism can be diagnosed.

Treatment of Hypoparathyroidism in Dogs

Hospitalization may be required to stabilize dogs that are having seizures and other severe signs of hypocalcemia. Then, the dog is kept on calcium and vitamin D supplements for life. Calcium levels need to be monitored closely over time so the dosage can be adjusted as needed.

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