Eclampsia in dogs or milk fever is caused by a deficiency in serum calcium in the blood due to a malfunction of calcium metabolism. Toy dogs are most likely to have this problem. Eclampsia usually happens up to six weeks after puppies are born. It occasionally happens before delivery, but is more common in dogs nursing.
Canine symptoms of eclampsia are restlessness, anxiety, rapid breathing, nervousness, and whining. The dog staggers or has stiff legs. Females with eclampsia hide under furniture, attempt to climb walls, maul or even kill their puppies. The temperature of the dam may be elevated up to 106 degrees. The dog fever causes the female to pant more, which raises the PH of the blood and lowers the serium calcium level more. Her face may take on a pinched look that exposes the teeth. Muscle twitches may be seen or felt. The female may look glassy eyed and shiver. As the condition worsens, she falls down on her side and exhibits spams and salivates profusely.
If left untreated, dog eclampsia will eventually lead to convulsions and death.
Since the immediate loss of dog calcium is through the milk, early symptoms might be controlled by removal of the puppies.
Eclampsia is considered to be a medical emergency and must be attended by a vet. A calcium solution must be given intravenously or subcutaneously to restore low calcium levels. An overdose or too rapid administration can cause heart stoppage or heart attack. so careful medical supervision of these treatments is very important.
The problem is caused by a body deficiency, complicated by the increased draining of calcium supply by the puppies. It can not be treated by adding calcium to the diet. In fact, high calcium fed during pregnancy may actually increase the risk. This condition can often recur with each litter. Females who have a history of having canine eclampsia may routinely be given calcium injections prior to and following whelping puppies. If this does not help, puppies must be removed and hand fed.