Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hypocalcaemia in Dogs

Hypocalcemia is a condition in which the calcium level is too low in the bloodstream. It is also sometimes called “Eclampsia” or “Milk Fever.”

It can occur in any dog or cat but is most commonly seen in small breed dogs that are either pregnant or nursing a litter. The problem is caused by the increased demands of pregnancy or nursing a litter, which require high levels of calcium. As the puppies grow inside the mother, the mother’s body must supply calcium through her bloodstream for the bone growth of the puppies. After birth, the calcium is supplied through the milk for the puppies’ nutrition. As each day passes, and the puppies grow, more milk (and therefore more calcium) is required.

If the female has a large litter, it increases the demands for milk production and calcium for the puppies. This condition occurs when the calcium level of the blood is decreased below the minimum levels needed for the health of the female.

Early signs of this condition include nervousness, panting, shivering and muscle tremors. If not treated at this early stage, the condition progresses to seizures — and eventually death. Prompt treatment of this condition is required to prevent death.

Hypocalcemia often recurs in later pregnancies, often on subsequent times much quicker than the first time. If a bitch has had it before and is therefore of known susceptibility to it, then it may occur in late pregnancy, before the birth of the puppies has occurred. IT IS IMPORTANT TO SPAY THESE PETS AFTER THE FIRST EPISODE FOR THE WELL BEING OF YOUR PET!

Initial treatment of this condition requires IV Calcium to replace what is needed by the female. Follow-up doses of calcium and other drugs are often required.

Please follow the below instructions:

Give all medications as directed.

Feed HIGH QUALITY PUPPY FOOD to the bitch (this is higher in calcium than normal adult dog food).

Allow only LIMITED FEEDINGS (3-4 times each day). Supplement the puppies with an artificial milk replacement product. Remember that as the puppies grow, they will require more milk. If the female is allowed to nurse too much, the chances of the condition recurring increase greatly.

Spay the female as SOON as the puppies are weaned.

Notify your veterinarian if any of the following signs are observed:

Staggering, muscle tremors, excessive panting, or seizures

Refusal to eat or vomiting

Breasts become hard, painful, or swollen

Any other condition you feel is abnormal for your pet

This article has been kindly donated by the Claws and Paws Veterinary Hospital. For further information about this clinic visit

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