Nutritional hyperparathyroidism occurs in young animals fed diets containing improper amounts of calcium and phosphorus. It is most common in young cats. The disease develops in the following
A balanced diet for your pet contains nearly equal amounts of calcium and phosphorus. Most meats, however, contain very high levels of phosphorus in relation to calcium. Beef liver, for example, contains 52 times as much phosphorus as calcium. When such a food constitutes the main diet, more phosphorus than calcium enters the animal’s bloodstream.
The parathyroid glands (small glands in the neck) produce a hormone that restores the proper proportions of calcium and phosphorus. If little dietary calcium is available, the needed calcium must come from the only other available source: the animal’s own bones.
Removal of calcium from the bones severely weakens them, and signs begin to develop. If the condition is untreated, the bones may bend or even fracture. Eventually the animal cannot walk or support its weight, and it may die.
Important Points in Treatment
1. Radiographs (x-rays) are necessary to evaluate damage to the bones. Blood tests are used to monitor calcium and phosphorus levels.