Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Too Much Calcium in the Blood Is a Diagnosis?

Last week, a friend contacted me, concerned about her dog drinking like there was no tomorrow. Of course, a dog will drink more when it's hot or when they exercise and play hard. But that wasn't the case.

He was drinking as if trying to drown himself.

I told my friend she was right to be concerned and that she should see her vet to find out what's causing this. Excessive drinking can be caused by anything from infections, diabetes, Cushing's disease, Addison's disease, kidney issues, liver issues ... This is serious stuff and it is important to find out what is going on and address it.

My friend went to her vet to have the labs done.

The vet told her that her dog has too much calcium in his blood.

She contacted me again, trying to figure out what she should do about it. She contacted ME trying to figure out what she should do about it.

The vet told her the adult dog's blood calcium was high and sent her on her merry way?

It's time like this when I would pull my hair out if I had any. Blood calcium is highly regulated and the odds that a dog has too much calcium in the blood from having too much of it in their food are minimal. While reducing dietary calcium might help getting the levels down, what about looking for the real reason?

An accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause of a dog’s hypercalcemia is truly important. ~CriticalCareDVM

There is such a thing as idiopathic hypercalcemia, but that's only when nobody can figure out the reason, not because there isn't one.

Unfortunately, the most common cause of high blood calcium is cancer.

There are other major causes, such as hyperparathyroidism, Addison's disease, kidney disease ... One dietary issue which does cause high blood calcium isn't actually too much calcium in the diet but too much vitamin D.

In general, high blood calcium levels mean break-down in the regulation, not too much calcium in the food.

I sent my friend back to a vet. A different one.

One that won't consider high blood calcium a diagnosis, merely a presentation of the actual problem that's behind it.

Not everything that SOUNDS like a diagnosis, is one.

Related articles:
What Do Those Nutrients Do? Calcium
Medical Terms That Sound Like A Diagnosis But Really Are Not (Part I)  
Medical Terms That Sound Like A Diagnosis But Really Are Not: One-thing-or-anotheritis
Medical Terms That Sound Like A Diagnosis But Really Are Not: Otitis

Further reading:
Hypercalcemia (High Calcium Levels) in Dogs

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you!


  1. It's a good thing your friend had you to come to. I hope that whatever the diagnosis, her dog is put on the path to full recovery.

    1. I hope so too. Drives me out of my mind, though, that the vet would just send her home with that.