If you're a dog owner, it's important to be aware of hyperparathyroidism in dogs. This is a condition that can cause serious health problems for your dog, so it's crucial to get treatment if your dog shows any symptoms. In this blog post, we'll discuss what hyperparathyroidism is, the symptoms to watch out for, and how it can be treated. So whether you're a new dog owner or just want to learn more about this condition, read on!

What is hyperparathyroidism in dogs?

Primary hyperparathyroidism in dogs is a disorder in which excessive amounts of PTH (parathyroid stimulating hormone) are released from the parathyroid gland. Hyperparathyroidism in dogs results in increased levels of blood calcium and decreased levels of blood phosphorus. The most common abnormalities associated with hypercalcemia are renal, gastrointestinal (GI), cardiac, and neuromuscular system disruptions.

Secondary hyperparathyroidism can develop secondary to nutritional changes and kidney disease. With nutritional hyperparathyroidism, diets deficient in calcium or diets containing excessive levels of phosphorus can dramatically increase the PTH levels. With renal hyperparathyroidism, there are a lot of factors that can contribute to increased levels of PTH in the blood. One of these is impaired excretion of PTH by the kidneys. So if there is a problem with the kidneys, it can lead to higher levels of PTH in circulation.

What are the normal functions of the parathyroid gland in dogs?

The parathyroid gland in dogs is a gland in the neck which functions to regulate the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. Specifically, PTH (parathyroid hormone) released by the parathyroid gland stimulates calcium reabsorption and vitamin D synthesis and prevents phosphorus reabsorption by the kidneys.

What causes hyperparathyroidism in dogs?

The most common cause of primary hyperparathyroidism in dogs is a non-cancerous mass (adenoma) in the parathyroid gland. Fortunately, cancerous masses are not often the cause of hyperparathyroidism in dogs.

Keeshonds have a genetic predisposition to hyperparathyroidism and studies have revealed approximately 20% of all dogs diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism are Keeshonds.

What are the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism in dogs?

The most common symptom of hyperparathyroidism in dogs is increased thirst and urination. Other symptoms may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss with muscle wasting
  • Anorexia (lack of appetite)
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle weakness and twitching
  • Shivering
  • Exercise intolerance

How is hyperparathyroidism in dogs diagnosed?

If your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it's important to immediately see a veterinarian. Hyperparathyroidism in dogs can be diagnosed through blood tests that measure calcium and phosphorus levels as an elevated blood calcium level is the hallmark abnormality.

Measuring the parathyroid hormone (PTH) is not completely reliable as there are chances for false negatives. In one study, 75% of dogs with hyperparathyroidism had normal PTH levels. Values, however, below the reference range will give your veterinarian confidence that hyperparathyroidism is not present as this is expected with normal parathyroid gland function.

Your veterinarian may also recommend an ultrasound of the parathyroid gland. This can be useful to determine if a mass is present in the gland as 90% of parathyroid masses can be visualized by a trained and experienced ultrasonographer.

Treatment of hyperparathyroidism in dogs

There are three treatment options for primary hyperparathyroidism in dogs: surgical removal of the affected gland, ethanol ablation, and heat ablation. Each treatment option has its own risks and benefits, so it's important to discuss these with your veterinarian before deciding on a course of treatment. Studies have shown that all three treatment options have the same success in controlling hypercalcemia that occurs as a result of hyperparathyroidism.

Treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism in dogs involves addressing and correcting the underlying cause. For example, if your dog has renal failure, treatment will focus on managing the renal failure and supporting the kidneys. If your dog has nutritional hyperparathyroidism, treatment will involve dietary changes to correct the nutritional imbalance.

What is the prognosis for dogs with hyperparathyroidism?

With the appropriate therapy, the prognosis is good. There is a possibility of recurrence of hypercalcemia and therefore frequent monitoring of blood calcium levels is recommended.

What are the risks of leaving hyperparathyroidism untreated in dogs?

If left untreated, hyperparathyroidism can lead to severe consequences such as kidney damage and calcification of soft tissues. Hypercalcemia is also associated with a variety of other health complications including cardiac arrhythmia, decreased libido, confusion/disorientation, constipation, and poor wound healing. For these reasons, it's important to seek treatment for hyperparathyroidism as soon as possible.


Hyperparathyroidism is a disorder in which excessive amounts of PTH (parathyroid stimulating hormone) are released from the parathyroid gland. Hyperparathyroidism results in increased levels of blood calcium and decreased levels of blood phosphorus. The most common cause of hyperparathyroidism in dogs is a non-cancerous mass (adenoma) in the parathyroid gland. The most common symptoms of hyperparathyroidism in dogs are increased thirst and urination, muscle loss and weakness, trembling and lack of appetite. Luckily, there are several treatment options available for hyperparathyroidism, including surgical removal of the affected gland, ethanol ablation, or heat ablation. If you think your dog may be suffering from this condition, it's important to seek treatment from a veterinarian as soon as possible.