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What is Eclampsia?

Eclampsia (also referred to as milk fever and hypocalcemia) refers to a drop in calcium levels of the blood in nursing mother dogs. This is caused when the parathyroid gland (the gland responsible for controlling calcium levels) is not active enough. It most commonly occurs one to five weeks after giving birth, which is a peak in the lactation cycle. In some cases, eclampsia can occur during birth, giving way to possible complications. Eclampsia is such a problem in nursing mothers because the body is unable to keep up with the calcium being taken from the mother’s body to provide for the young. This condition is more commonly seen when there is a large litter. It is also more likely in small breeds, specifically affecting English setters, Italian Spinone, Chihuahuas, Miniature Pinschers, Shih-Tzus, miniature poodles, and Mexican hairless dogs, though the can condition can develop for any dog.

Eclampsia is a condition in nursing mothers where calcium levels in the bloodstream drop. While eclampsia is most common after giving birth, it can also occur before birth and while giving birth. Eclampsia is caused when there is more calcium being taken through the lactation process than the mother has in her body and is receiving through her diet. This is typically caused by poor diet and large litters. Some symptoms include tremors, weakness, hyperthermia, and others, up to and including death. Eclampsia is treated by IV administration of calcium; symptoms may require separate treatment as well.

Eclampsia Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $350 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,500

Symptoms of Eclampsia in Dogs

Eclampsia is an emergency condition and animals that exhibit symptoms should be relieved from nursing, and the vet contacted immediately. Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the condition.

  • Tremors

  • Weakness
  • Puerperal Tetany – a form of paralysis associated with eclampsia in which the dog has stiff limbs and struggles to stand or walk
  • Panting
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Changes in the way they move
  • Changes in behavior
  • Salivation
  • Sensitivity
  • Confusion
  • Hyperthermia – increased body temperature
  • Seizures, which can lead to cerebral edema (swelling of the brain caused by excess fluid)
  • Tachycardia – an abnormally rapid heart rate
  • Polyuria – excessive urination
  • Polydipsia – excessive thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Coma
  • Death
Types

While eclampsia normally occurs after the dog has given birth, it is possible for the condition to develop at different stages in the pregnancy:

  • Prepartum

    - Symptoms of eclampsia may begin to appear before birthing occurs. Mild eclampsia may reduce the effectiveness of myometrial contractions, which in turn induces uterine contractions.

  • Parturition

    - It is possible for symptoms of eclampsia to appear during the actual birthing process. If the eclampsia is mild in severity, it may slow the labor’s progression without exhibiting any other symptoms.

  • Postpartum

    - Postpartum eclampsia is most common in the first five weeks after birth, when lactation is at its peak. This is because the mother’s body is unable to keep up with the calcium it is providing to the offspring.

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Causes of Eclampsia in Dogs

Eclampsia is most common in smaller breeds of dogs and instances where there is a large litter, or the puppies are larger. Eclampsia is ultimately caused by the mother giving out more calcium through the lactation cycle than she has in her body. Possible reasons to this calcium deficit include:

  • Loss of calcium from the mother’s body into the milk used to nurse the young
  • Insufficient calcium quantities in the diet
  • Greater demands for lactation caused by larger puppies or a large litter, especially if the mother is smaller in size
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Diagnosis of Eclampsia in Dogs

Any historical data that you can provide your veterinarian leading up to the onset of the symptoms can aid in diagnosis. In addition to listening to the insight you have to offer, your veterinarian will likely look at the following to come to a conclusion:

  • Physical exam
  • Serum chemistry profile
  • Test of pretreatment total serum calcium concentration, which is verified by a blood test. If your dog has a concentration less than 7 mg/dL, an eclampsia diagnosis can be confirmed.
  • Electrocardiogram

Your veterinarian will also want to rule out other conditions that could cause symptoms similar to eclampsia. These include:

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), conditions caused by poisons/toxins, and neurological disorders that may cause seizures
  • Metritis (inflamed uterine wall) and mastitis (inflamed mammary gland), which may cause irritability and increased body temperature
  • Hypoparathyroidism (deficit of parathyroid hormone in the blood), in instances where there are small amounts of serum PTH
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Treatment of Eclampsia in Dogs

  • IV calcium treatment will begin immediately (this must be done slowly to avoid toxicity). After 15 to 20 minutes, rapid improvement in symptoms typically occurs, as well as almost immediate relaxation of the muscles.
  • Monitoring of heart rate during calcium administration by means of auscultation (listening with a stethoscope) or electrocardiogram so that any bradycardia (slow heart activity) or arrhythmias (irregular heart beat) are caught.
  • Anti-seizure drugs, in some dogs
  • Treatment for cerebral edema increased body temperature, and low blood sugar will be completed if these symptoms are present. In cases where cerebral edema occurs, it is possible that the dog will be unresponsive after treatment for eclampsia has concluded.
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Recovery of Eclampsia in Dogs

Post-treatment recovery and management is dependent on the severity of the condition and other symptoms present. The affected mother should not nurse her puppies for 12 to 24 hours after treatment. During this time, the offspring should be provided a milk substitute or other appropriate nutritional replacements. If the offspring are old enough to be weaned, they should be.

If the mother returns to nursing and muscle spasms or other symptoms return, the litter should no longer nurse from the mother. If they are under four weeks, they will need to be provided milk supplements or other appropriate nutritional replacements. If the litter is over four weeks, they are able to be weaned from the mother. The dog will be provided oral calcium supplements for the remainder of the lactation cycle. Other therapies for improvement and maintenance include oral vitamin D and calcium supplementation, which will take 1-4 days to show any change. Postpartum eclampsia is likely to recur with future pregnancies though the following preventative steps can be taken: nutritionally balanced and appropriate diet through pregnancy and lactation, feeding and watering as often as desired during lactation, supplementing lactation with milk replacer early on and solid food after 3 to 4 weeks.

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Eclampsia Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $350 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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Eclampsia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Chihuahua

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking Stiffness

My dog had pups for first time she has had a seizure and trying to now please help me my daughter died last Friday nite I'm broke loosening all I got and izabella is all I have now please please call me now help me someone please

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, I cannot help her over an email, and she should see a veterinarian right away. She may be having a problem with her Calcium levels, or there may be something else causing this to happen. Having her seen by a veterinarian may not be as expensive as you think, and starting with an examination will give you an idea as to what might be going on. I hope that she is okay.

Sept. 30, 2020

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Pomchi

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting Two Days After Birth.Poor Appetite

What can I do at home?

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I do not think that there is anything that you can do at home, as I'm not sure why your dog is vomiting and not eating. There could be a number of reasons, including parasites, low blood sugar, low calcium, intestinal infection, for a retained puppy or placenta. It would be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine her and see what might be going on. I hope that she is okay.

Oct. 3, 2020

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Shih Tzu

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Chills Panting

She was nursing for her 3 weeks old puppies. Suddedly she began, panting and havung chills. After a while, she died. She was well, and strong mother.

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I am sorry for your loss. She may have had a problem with a retained placenta, puppy, or a problem with her calcium levels.

Oct. 20, 2020

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Spitz

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3 years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting And Panting

What should I do now? Its 4 am and my dog is serious

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 23, 2020

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Rat Terrier

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Not Moving

Shes a nursing mom, all of a sudden she's not moving on her own her jaw seems locked and if I pick her up she holds her straight up and front legs straight out. Shes also leaking milk. I dont have money to take her to a vet I need a home remedy

Aug. 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There are many things that could be going on, depending on how far into the nursing your dog is. She could be low in calcium, she could have an infection, or she could have some other metabolic problem. Unfortunately there may not be a home remedy for this, and having her seen by a veterinarian to see what's going on would be best. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 23, 2020

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Luna

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Beagle

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness
Vomiting
Loss Of Appetite
Panting
Weak Pulse
Weak Bladder

It has been 6 days since she gave birth, but she acts so weak and pants very often. She also vomits the food we give her. She discharged blood from her vagina just now. I just want to know if she's alright, I am so nervous and confused. I can't convince my mom to take her to the vet. Please help me.

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Cowcow

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Panting
Nervous
Agitated
Confusion
Jumpy
Jumping Up And Running Around

Strange behavior. She got pregnant her first heat and had 4 pups 2 days ago. She didn't leave the whelping box for the first 2 days. Now she jumped up and is acting very agitated. She is searching around and panting and looking around.. She finally went potty after the first day but she seems to be somewhat confused. I'm concerned because this just started after two days and I am unsure what it means.

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Chichay

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Labrador Retriever

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4 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Loss Of Appetite
Panting

I have a labrador retriever just gave birth to 6 puppies more than a week now. Just this morning she vomited all she ate the night before then she stop eating and drinking water. for the whole day she vomits bile around 4x already, and shes panting. Then as i was browsing i stumbled on this site and found out that maybe my dog have eclampsia. Need your advise please. Thank you

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Mini

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Golden Retriever

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures

Our sweet dog gave birth to 7 puppies the beginning of March. At the end of March, she had a seizure. The vet checked her calcium and it was low normal. She was put on a calcium supplement and no nursing for 24 hours. After 24 hours, she could start nursing as long as there were no more episodes. We continued to help with the feedings (bottle) to lighten her load a bit. She had no issues. At week 8 the vet told us to stop the calcium. Puppies started going home at week 8 and continued til about week 9.5 and one stayed with us. During this time, they still tried to nurse on her. At 10.5 post whelping, momma had another seizure. This one was longer. Our new vet ran bloodwork (CBC) about an hour and half after and all was normal. We also had her run Thyroid in-house and it was normal as well. She never had issues before. Could this be whelping related? Still eclampsia? Another side note - we had her on Simparica since October - could this be a possible cause? Since then - about 3 weeks now - no issues as of yet. We have stopped flea & tick meds to be on the safe side but continue heart worm protection. Any insight would be great.

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Ruby

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Pughasa

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Shivering
Panting
Heavy Breathing
Restlessness

Ruby gave birth to four puppies 30 hours ago, only one survived as the rest had birth defects. She is older so this was to be expected. The pregnancy was a surprise, we only found out three days before she went into labour. Since we came home she has been panting excessively, shaking and whining and I'm worried she may have eclampsia. She has not been resting as much as she should be, but otherwise she has been eating and drinking a lot and walks normally when I bring her out to pee. She panted this heavily throughout her labour and I imagined it would stop soon after whelping but it is constant. How long should I wait before bringing her to see the vet? Should I separate the pup from her teat?

Eclampsia Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $350 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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