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Hey everyone! I am new to this forum and came here because I am desperate and don't know what to do. My 13-ish year old beagle Rooster has recently been diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism, a rare disease that causes the parathyroid gland to become hyperactive, causing large amounts of calcium to be produced. This was discovered only via bloodwork as Rooster appears active, healthy, and happy otherwise. We have two courses of action: do nothing or have surgery. If we do nothing, the excess calcium will eventually destroy his internal organs, most likely the kidneys, and he will die. But we don't know how long that will take. If we go the surgical route, the hyperactive gland (there are four of them) will be removed and the other three will remain in place. This in and of itself presents its own issues. First off, this is such a rare disease that our vet hasn't even treated it before. She would be doing this for the first time (we think. we actually haven't talked to the surgeon directly, but Rooster's primary vet said she has never treated it before) and experience is crucial. Even if the surgery is successful, most likely the other glands have shut down to some extent since this one has been so dominant. He would most likely dip into hypoparathyroidism, or not producing enough calcium. This can be treated with supplementation BUT can cause serious complications, especially within the first week. His calcium could plummet causing siezures or potentially death. Even if he makes it past the worst of it (first week or two) we could still be in for constant evaluation and supplementation. I would hate to do that too him. He really hates the vet, and we can't explain this to him. The surgery has the potential to fix his problem and extend his life significantly. It also has the potential of killing him faster, or causing him a lot of pain. And, he really is an old dog. He has had heartworm in the past, he is lyme positive (although shows no symptoms) and is arthritic. Who knows if the surgery will buy him more time, although I really hope so. I feel like not doing the surgery is prematurely giving up on him but I also feel that doing it could do more harm than good. Anyone out there who has had this problem? Any advice on what to do or who to talk to? Any responses are greatly appreciated.
 

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The little I know is mostly human hyperthyroidism from having a family member undergoing surgery for it and she had to have her whole thyroid removed, but now is on thyroid meds for life and if she doesn't take them she will die.
Considering your dog's age I would ask about the prognosis of 'wait & see'
vs the quality of life your dog would have after surgery.............At his age I would want him to be as comfortable as possible, not stressed out about vets and meds and all the other painful things he would have to go thru in recovery..........can it guarantee good years or just a few months........
 

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From my understanding it is a much smaller deal for people than animals. His thyroid is already shot and he is on meds for that so that is not an issue. The surgery cannot guarantee many years of life due to the potential of other unrelated health problems but it gives him the best chance. If we find a way to balance the hypoperathyroidism post-surgery or if his other glands take over like they should, this will no longer be a problem since parathyroid tumors are benign. Our vet is unsure about the prognosis of the "wait and see" approach but his calcium is at 14.6 so he is definitely in the danger zone.
 

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For me age and overall health play the biggest part in whether or not I'd decide to put my dog through a risky and costly surgery.

For age, breed and size of dog also plays a part. The smaller the dog the longer they will live. I would not put a giant or large breed dog through such a surgery since they are likely at the end of their life and the surgery wouldn't likely buy then much time if any at all. A medium to small breed dog I'd give serious consideration into having it done if the dog was in overall good health since there would be a good chance that the surgery would buy the dog some quality time.

Back when I had my elderly dog, he was well over 17 when he passed away, I started opting to just treat the symptoms of his health problems, and stopped doing any really stressful procedures, his health was declining and no treatment would have done anything to really improve his life or extend it at his age.
 

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I am sorry to hear that. Trust me, I totally understand how hard the decision could be. Because my dog has another rare disease, hypoparathyroidism. It was in China. There are not many hospitals can identify the disease, let alone come out with a way to help my dog.

No matter which way you choose, I wish you dog all the best.

If it is possible, you should take him to the big city, maybe there will be more veterinarian know the disease and have experience.

Wish you and your dog good luck.
 
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