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What is Excess Calcium in the Blood?

Many canines with excess calcium in the blood become very sick, while others show no symptoms of the condition. Calcium is essential to critical bodily functions like bone growth and muscle contraction, but an overabundance may be secondary to an underlying disease and can also contribute to urolithiasis (the formation of stones in the kidneys, bladder or urinary tract). Having excess calcium in the blood can cause damage to all areas of the body and the extent of the harm will depend on the how extreme the increase is, and how long your pet has been experiencing the condition. Prompt treatment for your canine companion  is necessary in order to avoid significant complications that could make him very ill.

Excess calcium in the blood is defined as hypercalcemia in veterinary terms. While calcium does play an important role in the body, excessive amounts can signify the presence of a serious underlying disease such as cancer or kidney failure.

Excess Calcium in the Blood Average Cost

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Average Cost

$2,500

Symptoms of Excess Calcium in the Blood in Dogs

Although some canines may be asymptomatic when their blood contains too much calcium, others will become very sick. Hypercalcemia hinders the ability to concentrate urine and also produces abnormal thirst. The symptoms will vary depending on how severe the hypercalcemia has become.

  • Extreme thirst (polydipsia)
  • High production of diluted urine (polyuria)
  • Pain when urinating (dysuria)
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Frequent urination which may come only in drops (stranguria)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle twitching
  • Listlessness
  • Low appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Low activity tolerance
  • Seizures
  • Collapse

Secondary illnesses may manifest additional symptoms related to the specific condition.

Types

Calcium is either referred to as total blood calcium (attached to proteins), or ionized (not attached to proteins, and also known as free calcium). All cells need calcium in order to function properly.

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Causes of Excess Calcium in the Blood in Dogs

The number of reasons why your pet may suffer from an excess of calcium in the blood are many, with cancer being the number one cause. 

  • Apocrine gland sarcoma of the anal sac
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Carcinomas like pancreatic 
  • Lymphosarcoma
  • Ingestion of certain plants
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Hyperadrenocorticism (Addison’s disease)
  • Ingestion of excessive Vitamin D in supplements or medicines
  • Bone disease
  • Fungal infection
  • Dehydration
  • Granulomatous disease like histoplasmosis
  • Azotemia (accumulation of large amounts of nitrogenous waste products in the blood)
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Diagnosis of Excess Calcium in the Blood in Dogs

The veterinary team will require a complete recent history of the events leading to the visit. Be as accurate as you can when relaying information about the symptoms you have noticed, and the approximate time frame for when you began to see changes in your pet’s demeanor and state of health.

There are many causes for excess calcium in the blood, and therefore the number of possible tests that can be ordered varies greatly also. First, a complete physical examination will be done, to begin the overall analysis of your pet’s health.

Tests that may be included in the diagnostic process are listed below.

Blood tests

  • Complete blood count and serum biochemistry profile
  • Tests will include checking calcium levels
  • The calcium test should be repeated after a 12 hour fast for optimum accuracy
  • The veterinarian will check for Addison’s disease
  • Vitamin D levels will be analysed
  • Verification of the presence of fungus is important

Assay of PTH or PTHrP

  • PTH can indicate if the parathyroid glands are causing the hypercapnia
  • PTHrP test can be used to confirm hypercapnia with malignancies like apocrine gland adenocarcinoma of the anal sac

Urinalysis

  • This test can indicate if the kidneys are functioning normally
  • The presence of blood and the concentration of urine will be studied

Imaging Tests

  • A radiograph or ultrasound can reveal cancer or bone damage

Other diagnostic tools like cytology, biopsy, or histology could be needed as well.

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Treatment of Excess Calcium in the Blood in Dogs

Treatment for the excess calcium in the blood will initially depend on the condition of your beloved pet when he arrives at the clinic. The main impact on your dog’s health in the immediate will be regaining the function of elimination of calcium from the urine, and to stop the removal of calcium from the bones.

Your dog may need intravenous or diuretic therapy if he is dehydrated, or if renal function needs to be repaired. Glucocorticoids will also be administered if needed to balance the calcium function and resorption. Medication to decrease serum calcium or inhibit bone resorption could be prescribed. 

In cases of a secondary illness which may be causing the excess calcium, improvement will be seen when the problem is addressed. For example, treatment for hypoadrenocorticism, if that is the cause, will resolve the hypercalcemia. In the instance of a malignancy, surgery or chemotherapy and radiation might be the required method of treatment.

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Recovery of Excess Calcium in the Blood in Dogs

Once serum calcium concentrations are normalised, your pet will be on the road to recovery. If too much supplementation of Vitamin D was the problem, for example, simply removing the additive will help to eradicate the problem. In the event of a malignancy, the treatment and recovery will be more extensive. However, it must be noted that when cancer is causing the hypercalcemia, the positive prognosis is much lower because tumors often recur and survival time is low.

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Excess Calcium in the Blood Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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Excess Calcium in the Blood Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Boxer Mix

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

Anal Sack Tumor

My dog has a tumor in his anal sack and His calcium levels are high and he is drinking a lot of water does that automatically mean that his kidneys are failing

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. While kidney disease is one side effect of having elevated calcium, it is not an automatic thing that happens. If he is drinking more, it may be worthwhile having his kidney enzymes checked with your veterinarian, but it wouldn't be something that I would automatically assume, no. If he is doing well otherwise, he may have a lot of good time left. I hope that all goes well for him.

Oct. 1, 2020

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Jack Russell

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11 years 8 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Back Legs

What could be the cause of high calcium in the bones?

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. Without knowing more about your dog's situation, it is not possible for me to answer that question accurately If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 21, 2020

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Cindy

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Yorkie Russell

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

High Liver And Calcium Levels

My 10 year old Yorkie Russell cross was diagnosed with high liver enzymes 3 months ago. After a routine blood check after she has been on liver aid for a month her calcium levels have come back high and the vets are concerned. My dog is showing no symptoms of either issues. She has problems with her shoulders and back legs and has been taking meloxin we have now had to reduce this due to the liver problems,and over the past year has got pink wart like lumps on her body, does it sound like we are looking at kidney failure or maybe even cancer? The vets want her in for a day to monitor her calcium levels, is my dog suffering?

June 26, 2018

Cindy's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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It does not sound like Cindy is suffering if she isn't showing any signs of illness. Having her calcium levels monitored is a good idea, and they may need to send a sample off to get an ionized calcium, to make sure that the levels aren't' false elevations. Increased calcium can also be caused by kidney disease, which she doesn't' seem to have, or cancer, which your veterinarians are trying to determine.

June 26, 2018

Hi - did you find an answer to the pink warts? Our dog has similar issues...

July 30, 2018

Jean H.


Cindy was in for a day of bloods on Friday, her liver bloods are ok so they have ruled out liver problems, her calcium levels are still very high. The vets have now requested she has a chest xray and possibly a scan as they now think it may well be cancer with a tumour in her chest this will be done this Friday, so not good news this morning for us...

July 10, 2018

Cindy's Owner

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Sonney

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Jack Russell Terrier

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11 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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To Me He Seems Normal,

My dog had a high count of calcium in his body and calcium stones in his stomach, after many tests and scans he has now had the stones removed and a parathyroid removed. His calcium levels are still high and he is now on 3x Fosamax tablets 10MG X once a week, still showing high calcium levels. Is the medication correct for his problem?

June 1, 2018

Sonney's Owner

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Fosamax (alendronate) isn’t a typical treatment in dogs being more commonly used in cats; however it is important to know what the cause of the increased calcium levels are since there are many different pathways which may elevate calcium levels with parathyroid gland issues being just one of them as you will see from the link below. Whether or not the treatment will be effective is down to whether or not the correct underlying cause was determined. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.msdvetmanual.com/endocrine-system/the-parathyroid-glands-and-disorders-of-calcium-metabolism/hypercalcemia-in-dogs-and-cats

June 2, 2018

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Max

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Labrador Retriever

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Appetite

My Veteranary surgeon has recommended surgery of the parathyroid gland and removal of one of the parathyroid gland for my dog Max for hypercalcemia. With comprehensive blood/ultrasound tests tests they have determined that there is no other cause likeCancer etc. They have found that one of the parathyroid glands is enlarged. My dog is a 9 1/2 year old lab retreiver. What are the average survival rates for dogs for 1,2,3 etc years after the surgery. Is there any other option like long term medication that is less expensive than a surgery. Total costs are accumulating to about 10,000 including surgery, tests, hospital stays etc.

May 30, 2018

Max's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Surgery is the treatment of choice in this instance, any medical management options available are not really suitable long term; it seems like this is quite a simple case without any other issues with the kidneys etc… so overall prognosis should be favourable to good based on the information you’ve provided. You should discuss options with your Veterinarian as they have all the medical records and have examined Max. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.msdvetmanual.com/dog-owners/hormonal-disorders-of-dogs/disorders-of-the-parathyroid-glands-and-of-calcium-metabolism-in-dogs http://veterinarycalendar.dvm360.com/diseases-parathyroid-glands-proceedings

May 31, 2018

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Luna

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Labrador Retriever

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5 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Thirst
Lethargy
Increased Urination
Breathing Difficulty

My five year old lab is currently a medical mystery- any insight would be helpful. She has history of cups, an autoimmune disease where her body attacks her teeth. She was on a medication regimen that seemed to be controlling the cups (triamcinolon, doxycyclilne, pentoxifyline and niacinamide). She started refusing the meds, experiencing lethargy, increased water intake and urination and decreased appetite. During this same time she experienced a heavy set woman falling on her (we were thinking the pain in her legs was from this and the other symptoms were the meds she was on). When we took her into the vet, she had tenderness around the spine, increased ionized calcium levels (1.95), increased liver enzymes and increased muscle enzyme. The vet set off a lab sample and "mostly" ruled out parathyroid cancer and malignant cancer. She was hospitalized for 4 days and given IV fluids and diuretics. She also started refusing all food at this time so was given a feeding tube. She then started eating chicken and freshpet when given to her. She also started to perk up. Her calcium levels went back down to normal. The vet said that he would expect them to go down, but not normal. He weened her off the fluids and diuretics while monitoring the calcium levels. She has been off the fluids and diuretics for 48 hours and is home now. Took her yesterday to recheck calcium and it was 1.41. She is still lethargic, drinking more than usual (but less than before) and is a picky eater (but is eating chicken and freshpet). Her WBC are normal, but she does occasionally spike a fever and is currently on an antibiotic that treats toxoplasmosis while we wait for the results of that and a fungal test. While she was still in the hospital, she had an ultrasound of her thyroid and abdomen. The thyroid was normal. Her liver had a different shade to it and she had some swollen lymph nodes in her lumbar area. She had an aspiration of the lymph nodes and the liver. These tests came back with "no obvious sign" of cancer. The liver showed some fatty something and the lymph nodes had some mast cells in them? The vet tells us that he can't connect all of her symptoms. We just want to know what is going on with our Luna. One more thing- her bark has also just completely changed. I wouldn't even believe it was her unless I saw her bark.

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Bella

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Yorkshire Terrier

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Lethargic
Restless
Thirsty
Lack Of Stool

My 12-year-old Yorkie, Bella, was recently diagnosed with a High Calcium Level..13. The vet kept her and hydrated her all day & gave her Lasix. Her Calcium levels are still high, so she will return tomorrow for more IV hydration and Lasix. She has suffered from Pancreatitis in the past. Last night she was vomiting, and restless. She was running around the room like ghosts were chasing her! She wanted to drink tons of water but would throw up right after. This morning she was severely dehydrated and lethargic. Next step: Blood ionized calcium concentration to assess the biologically active form of calcium. I have researched to the point of tears. I don't want to put her through tons of tests and live out the last few years she has in pain. If the ionized calcium is high...is there any chance it is something easily treated at home, or is that the final straw. My mind is exhausted stressed and distraught.

Excess Calcium in the Blood Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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