Ionized hypercalcemia in dogs: a retrospective study of 109 cases (1998-2003)

J S Messinger, W R Windham, C R Ward
Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 2009, 23 (3): 514-9

BACKGROUND: Serum hypercalcemia in dogs has been reported in association with a variety of diseases. Serum-ionized calcium (iCa) concentration is a more accurate measure of hypercalcemia than total serum calcium or corrected serum calcium concentrations. The severity of hypercalcemia has been utilized to suggest the most likely differential diagnosis for the hypercalcemia.

HYPOTHESIS: Diseases causing ionized hypercalcemia may be different than those that cause increases in total or corrected serum calcium concentrations. The severity of ionized hypercalcemia in specific diseases cannot be used to determine the most likely differential diagnosis for ionized hypercalcemia.

ANIMALS: One-hundred and nine client-owned dogs with a definitive cause for their ionized hypercalcemia evaluated between 1998 and 2003 were included in this study.

METHODS: Retrospective, medical records review.

RESULTS: Neoplasia, specifically lymphosarcoma, followed by renal failure, hyperparathyroidism, and hypoadrenocorticism were the most common causes of ionized hypercalcemia. Dogs with lymphoma and anal sac adenocarcinoma have higher serum iCa concentrations than those with renal failure, hypoadrenocorticism, and other types of neoplasia. The magnitude of serum-ionized hypercalcemia did not predict specific disease states.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: Serum-ionized hypercalcemia was most commonly associated with neoplasia, specifically lymphosarcoma. Although dogs with lymphosarcoma and anal sac adenocarcinoma had higher serum iCa concentrations than dogs with other diseases, the magnitude of the serum iCa concentration could not be used to predict the cause of hypercalcemia. Total serum calcium and corrected calcium concentrations did not accurately reflect the calcium status of the dogs in this study.

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