My good friend just had parathyroid surgery and conversations with her family and friends have made me realize that most people don ™t know the difference between thyroid glands and parathyroid glands. The thyroid glands are in the neck, usually just below the larynx (or voice box.) The parathyroid glands are very small and sit either on top of or inside of the thyroid glands. Thyroid disease is very common in dogs and cats, and also in women. Dogs get low thyroid production and cats tend to have over-active thyroid glands. Thyroid disease effects metabolic rate – cats tend to get skinny and dogs tend to get lazy and overweight. The parathyroid glands help to maintain normal blood calcium levels. Parathyroid hormone and other agents determine how well calcium is absorbed from the intestinal tract and how much calcium is removed from or put into the bones. Dogs and cats usually get parathyroid disease only secondarily to other issues. The most common cause in this area is kidney failure. Since the kidneys play an important role in calcium metabolism, when they fail, the parathyroid gland goes into overdrive to try to maintain blood calcium levels. In areas where malnutrition is common, we will see hyperparathyroidism due to low calcium in the diet. This occasionally occurs in this area when people try to supplement a pet ™s diet or make their own food. Most homemade diets not formulated by a veterinarian are deficient in calcium. The doctors at Animal Care Clinic have a great interest in internal medicine and want to help you and your pets.
by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP