Eclampsia is a life threatening condition that results
from the development of calcium deficiency around the time
of birth. It is most commonly seen in smaller dogs, first
time mothers and in dogs with large litters. The early signs
can be very variable and include trembling and panting.
The demand for calcium during pregnancy whilst higher than
normal is nothing compared to the raised levels which are
needed once the mother begins milk production. It is this
"sudden" change in calcium requirements which
can cause a relative deficiency.
Most of the calcium in the system is diverted into milk
production - sometimes leaving the mother without! This
metabolic crisis can often then lead to convulsions, respiratory
failure and death.
Since "Rusty" clearly fell into this high risk
category I advised that "Rusty's" calcium level
should be checked with a blood test. Fortunately, in this
instance "Rusty's " levels were fine.
Her owners, very sensibly, had NOT supplemented her during
pregnancy. This well intentioned but dangerous habit of
supplementing the body when calcium demand is not great
lulls the patient's metabolism into a "false sense
of security" so that when a large and rapid demand
occurs at lactation the body is poorly equipped to deal
with the change with potentially disastrous results.
However, now that "Rusty" is producing milk in
large quantities it is important at this stage to feed a
diet which is rich with minerals, vitamins and calories.
To accomplish this the best advice is to feed the mother
a complete quality puppy food which is extremely energy
The latest news is that mother and puppies are doing fine!
Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS
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