Sydney is a 10 year old, male Jack Russell Terrier. He visited the clinic in March 2012 when his owner, Karen, noticed that Sydney was drinking a lot, not eating much, losing weight and just not himself. There are a large number of reasons for pets to have these problems so to help us narrow it down blood and urine tests were performed. His results showed a high calcium level and dilute urine. The most common cause for high blood calcium levels is malignancy due to certain types of cancers. We proceeded to take Xrays, perform ultrasounds and do some further blood tests to find Sydney’s cancer but came up empty handed. Our next suspicion was primary hyperparathyroidism. After making a few enquiries we found that the only way to confirm our suspicions was to send some chilled blood to Michigan in the USA. We were told this would be almost impossible, but here at total vets we relish a challenge and you know what – we did it! Sydney was diagnosed with primary hyperparathyroidism, we had our answer.
Primary hyperparathyroidism occurs when a parathyroid gland overproduces parathyroid hormone which in turn causes the blood calcium levels to increase. The body keeps calcium tightly controlled and relies on Vitamin D as part of this regulation. There are 4 parathyroid glands and it is usually only one gland that is affected and the other three glands shrink and cease to work properly. Sydney needed to have the affected gland removed surgically and, as he was not eating much and losing weight before surgery, he had a feeding tube placed. The surgery itself is was relatively straightforward and Sydney sailed through. The hard part was to begin. As Sydney’s remaining glands had shut down his blood calcium levels decreased and he was at risk of seizures and even death, there was also a risk that his kidneys may fail. Despite these post-op risks, if Sydney did not have surgery he would have died. We had to closely monitor his calcium levels and supplement him with additional calcium and vitamin D while waiting for his other glands to kick in. The first week was difficult with Sydney spending his entire time under veterinary care, he spent his days with us and his nights with the great team at the after hours clinic. He had many monitoring blood tests during this time and he never once complained.
Sydney has done amazingly well and a great part of this is down to the dedication of his owner Karen, who has had many a sleepless night worrying about her boy. Sydney used to hate his vet visits, now he loves coming to visit all his “aunties” at Total Vets and we are always happy to see him.