Ziggy is a 6 year old Schnauzer who is just very laid back! He came to us for further investigation of an electrolyte abnormality. A high calcium level had been found on a blood test and had been making him feel a bit off colour.
A thorough physical checkup showed that Ziggy was very healthy however we found a small lump inside his anus next to his anal sac. Blood tests ruled out kidney failure and adrenal failure as possibilities and since rat poison works by causing kidney failure, this was ruled out as well. Our next step was then to remove the anal lump and have it examined. His calcium remained high and the lump turned out to be tumour unrelated to his anal sac. To continue the search we x-rayed Ziggy's chest and abdomen looking for signs of a lymphoma but found nothing. We did an extensive ultrasound scan of his abdomen and again found nothing.
The next step was to measure his parathyroid hormone level. This is a difficult test to do as the sample must be transported frozen to a human hospital in Sydney. A tumour of the parathyroid gland will often cause a high reading, but a normal reading does not rule this out. Parathyroid glands are very small and lay embedded in the thyroid glands at the top of the neck. The hormone they produce keeps the body's calcium level up. A low calcium is even more dangerous than a high calcium as it results in muscle tremors, seizures and cardiac arrest! Ziggy's result came back in the high part of the normal range.
This small innocuous nodule had been producing an excess of parathyroid hormone which had been causing the high blood calcium. It had taken a lot of testing, xraying and scanning to track down, a delicate operation to treat but now Ziggy could look forward to a normal life again.