Saturday, March 23, 2013

Elevated what?

Yesterday Boden was supposed to get neutered. I brought him into the vet around 7am and went through the check-in process. Because of their large size, the Newfies get a little special treatment. Instead of having to wait in kennels like other dogs, they usually get an entire exam room or the surgery recovery room to themselves, even just for basic check-ups. So the vet tech took Boden and set him up to await surgery in his own exam room. I filled out the paperwork and the techs told me they'd call when he was ready to be picked up later that afternoon. One item checked off my to-do list.

I went back home to walk Thatcher and feed him breakfast, then headed off to an eye appointment. Feeling good about my morning and everything I was getting done, I arrive at my appointment and begin filling out the required forms. My phone rings, but I didn't know the number so I ignore the call. A moment later I receive a voicemail from this random number. I keep filling out the paperwork with one hand and pick up my phone with the other hand to half-heartedly listen to the message, expecting it to be a telemarketer or my old college asking for a donation. Instead, I hear, "This is Dr. so-and-so. I just looked at the results for Boden's pre-surgery blood work. I found some abnormalities that I need to speak with you about immediately. We'll be postponing his surgery until I am able to speak with you regarding my findings. Please call me back as soon as possible." Wonderful.

Immediately worried, I step out of the eye clinic to call the vet back. In a whirlwind of information, he basically runs through the abnormal findings of the blood tests. I am completely overwhelmed, and only a few words register, "Elevated levels...parathyroid organ...cancer...cholesterol...". I freak out. He asks me if Boden's been acting out-of-the-ordinary at all or if we've been seeing any symptoms of anything. I tell him that if we had been seeing anything weird we would've brought him in sooner. The vet explains that he needs to run some additional tests to try and pinpoint what's going on. Until we know any results (next week), the neuter will have to wait. I tell him to go ahead and run the tests, and he promises to call me when Boden's ready to go home.

I walk back into the eye clinic in a daze of confusion and worry. I honestly can't remember much about the appointment, but right after I leave, the vet calls and says Boden is done. I drive straight over and practically run in the door. The vet tech calmly shows me the bill, and several hundred dollars later, brings me over to the exam room that Boden is happily waiting in. He sees me through the window on the door and dances with joy. Besides the bandage on his arm from the blood draws, he's the same cheerful dog I dropped off earlier. As we're leaving, the vet tech explains that the test results will take a few days, so they'll call us as soon as they know anything. When J. got home from work later that day, I try to explain what is going on, but realize I really have no idea. He decides to call the vet to get more details. This time I am prepared to listen and armed with a notebook. 

Boden's blood work showed elevated levels of bilirubin (can signify liver problems), cholesterol and calcium. According to the vet, the combination of these abnormalities mean it's one of three scenarios. 

  1. Problems with the parathyroid organ, which, among other things, regulates the amount of Vitamin D in the body. An elevated calcium level is one of the main signals of this. There are usually no noticeable symptoms, except for what shows in the blood test.
  2. Some cancers. The vet thinks this is the least likely, since Boden is so young.
  3. These abnormal levels are just normal for Boden.
Obviously, we're crossing our fingers for number 3. But we'll find out more once the test results come in. Until then, we're supposed to just keep an eye out for any unusual symptoms like vomiting, increased drinking, etc. We've been watching Boden last night and today, and he seems to be his normal, spunky self. Let's hope the test results agree. In the meantime, instead of recovering from being neutered, Boden is just rocking a tiny shaved patch on his arm from where they put the needles in.


  1. Hi I'm reading you for a while now and I have question for you. Whad brand of food are you giving to your dogs?? I know it is a silly to think that dog food may cause that. Last night i was reading about Purina Beneful and other kind of dog food made by this company cause sudden death in dogs and cats. It is very upseting. I'm hoping everything is going to be ok with Boden. Best wishes.

    1. Hi Ana. Thanks for your concern! We use Eukanuba brand (their large breed kinds), and have religiously since we got our first Newfie Thatcher. The vet did ask about the food we use, and when I told him Eukanuba, he said he didn't think it had anything to do with Boden's problems. I also have read about certain types of those cheaper dog foods like Beneful and how they can cause major issues. I asked the vet if what's wrong with Boden could have been caused by something, and he said if there is something wrong, it's much more likely to be something genetic. And of course, there's the possibility that nothing is wrong at all. We're just erring on the side of caution!

  2. Our thoughts are with you that he is going to be just fine. Give both your boy's a huge from me and will be waiting with my fingers crossed.


  3. Oh, how awful for you! Paws and fingers crossed that it all turns out okay!

  4. We'll be keeping our paws crossed for Boden and hoping that it's just the way his values are for him!