The parathyroid glands are positioned on the thyroid glands. (Para is from the Greek meaning alongside). Both parathyroid glands are located at the front of a pet’s neck near the trachea just below the skin.
The parathyroid glands secrete a hormone that regulates calcium and phosphorus levels in the body. They adjust the amounts entering the gastrointestinal tract, eliminated by the kidneys and released into the bloodstream.
Hypoparathyroidism occurs when little or no parathyroid hormone is being secreted by the glands which causes a decrease in calcium levels in the bloodstream and an increase in phosphorus levels.
Dog breeds more sensitive to hypoparathyroidism include German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Toy Poodles, Miniature and Terriers. The disease is found more often in females and is seen at about 5 years old.
Cats are usually diagnosed at 12-13 years old and the disease is often seen after surgical removal of the thyroid gland.
Symptoms due to low calcium levels (hypocalcemia) in the blood include fever or low body temperature, muscle twitching, loss of coordination, vomiting, lethargy, low heart rate, panting, inappetance, growling.
Diagnosis is made through a complete blood count (CBC), serum chemistry profile which includes measurinf calcium and phosphorus levels, electrolyte panel, urinalysis, PTH (parathyroid hormone test).
Treatment is long-term for hypocalcemia. Your pet may be hospitalized at first to be stabilized. At home, your vet will prescribe Vitamin D and calcium supplements. Your vet will monitor and adjust doses according to your pet’s response to treatment.
Cats who havehad their thyroid gland removed resulting in hypothyroidism often recover normal parathyroid function after a few weeks or month following surgery.
Consult with a holistic vet for information on diet and vaccinations.