Hypercalcemia and Canine Lymphoma

November 19, 2021
3 min read

Article Highlights

  • Hypercalcemia is when there is elevated calcium in your dog’s blood.

  • Hypercalcemia is usually indicative of health issues.

  • Hypercalcemia may be due to lymphoma if your dog has low parathyroid hormone (PTH) and elevated PTH related protein (PTHrP) levels.

Calcium is a mineral found in small amounts throughout your dog’s body. It plays multiple important roles in the body. Calcium is necessary for maintaining bone health, aiding muscle contraction, and sending signals from the brain to the rest of the body.

What is hypercalcemia?

Hypercalcemia is when there are higher than normal levels of calcium in your dog’s bloodstream. Calcium levels are regulated by the parathyroid gland, found near your dog’s voice box. When calcium levels get too low, the parathyroid gland releases parathyroid hormones (PTH) to trigger the production of calcium.

Symptoms of hypercalcemia

Some signs of hypercalcemia in your dog can include increased thirst, increased urination, and loss of appetite. If calcium levels are high for an extended period of time, a dog can experience permanent kidney damage and bladder stones. It is critical that hypercalcemia gets identified and treated as soon as possible.

What does hypercalcemia mean for my dog?

Hypercalcemia is an indicator of a problem. To treat the symptoms of hypercalcemia, you must treat the underlying cause. Hypercalcemia can be caused by various illnesses, including Addison’s disease, Vitamin D exposure, kidney failure, and canine lymphoma.

Through blood tests, your veterinarian can determine the cause of hypercalcemia. For example, high PTH levels could indicate hyperparathyroidism.

Hypercalcemia and lymphoma

Dogs with lymphoma can exhibit hypercalcemia, but have lower than normal PTH levels. If other testing comes back inconclusive and your veterinarian finds low PTH levels, they may test for PTH related proteins (PTHrP). If there are elevated PTHrP levels in your dog’s blood, the next step may be to have your veterinarian test for lymphoma.

Hypercalcemia doesn’t automatically signal a lymphoma diagnosis. However, if hypercalcemia is found along with other signs of canine lymphoma, it’s time to start testing. As a pet owner, the best thing you can do is voice your concerns to your veterinarian.