What is Intravenous Calcium?
A dog's body requires a large array of nutritional material in order to function properly, with various oils, proteins, and vitamins having to be ingested each day. Minerals are another such category, and calcium is one of the primary minerals that dogs will require on a daily basis. The substance serves many purposes within the body, including strengthening the dog's teeth and bones, building and maintaining neural pathways along which signals can be sent to and from the brain and helping organs to maintain their structure. However, some health conditions can cause the dog to urgently require more calcium to be intravenously injected into the body to prevent serious damage. This will typically be one of the first things the vet will do before moving to treat the underlying condition.
Intravenous Calcium Procedure in Dogs
The intravenous calcium is fed into the dog's body by way of a drip. Because of this, it is necessary to first clean the site where the needle will enter the dog (usually on its back or foreleg) in order to prevent a possible infection. The area will also have to be numbed before the injection to avoid alarming the dog - this is usually done using an icepack. Next, the vet will insert a catheter into one of the dog's blood vessels and connect it to a bag of calcium solution suspended above the animal. This allows gravity to do the work of getting the fluid into the dog at a safe and comfortable pace. Depending on the symptoms that the dog has been experiencing, it may also be necessary to provide them with extra hydration using another drip. The vet will then leave the dog to absorb the fluids and will monitor their condition. In total, the procedure should take no more than a couple of hours to complete.
Efficacy of Intravenous Calcium in Dogs
After the treatment has been administered, the dog's condition will start to visibly improve within the space of an hour, with their energy levels and ability to walk correctly gradually returning. There are no real alternatives to the use intravenous calcium, though additional drugs may be required in order to stop potential seizures. This is because if the dog's calcium levels drop low enough, their nervous system will start to degrade, producing uncontrollable muscle spasms. Whilst these drugs are extremely effective at preventing seizures, they do not treat the underlying cause (i.e. calcium deficiency) and should always be accompanied with intravenous calcium.
Intravenous Calcium Recovery in Dogs
After the procedure, the dog will usually be able to return home straight away. It is important that owners allow the animal to get plenty of rest in the next few days so that their body can recover. The vet may also provide some dietary calcium supplements in order to maintain healthy amounts of the mineral within the dog. It will be necessary for the animal to undergo a few checkup appointments so that the vet can determine if there are any associated issues that may need treatment. This is especially true if seizures have occurred, as the dog may need further testing to make sure no permanent damage has been done.
Cost of Intravenous Calcium in Dogs
The price of intravenous calcium treatment is relatively low, usually requiring owners to spend between $100 and $300, depending on the length of the therapy and how much calcium solution is required. It should be kept in mind that anti-seizure medications such as phenobarbital can add to this number, though they will typically only be needed once or twice due to the speed of the treatment process. As such, they will usually only cost around $40 per dosage.
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Dog Intravenous Calcium Considerations
Whilst introducing additional calcium into the dog's body via an intravenous drip can sometimes make the difference between life and death, some owners may still harbor reservations when it comes to looking at the potential side effects. It is not unusual for animals undergoing the treatment to develop severe nausea, potentially leading to vomiting. The worry expressed by some owners stems from the fact that dogs nursing infants can often experience varying levels of dehydration and vomiting will only make this worse. However, a vet will be able to mitigate the effects of dehydration by using fluid therapy, whereby extra water is intravenously put into the dog's body along with the calcium, keeping them properly hydrated.
Intravenous Calcium Prevention in Dogs
Whilst intravenous calcium can quickly resolve a problem like eclampsia, it is far more preferable to avoid allowing the dog to reach such a state of malnutrition in the first place. Owners can prevent this by feeding the dog a properly balanced diet, including the requisite amounts of vitamins and minerals. Pregnancy and raising pups is often a direct cause of hypocalcemia, so making sure to give the dog extra calcium supplements during this period can help a lot with both maintaining their health and ensuring proper development of the pups. A more traditional approach is to give the animal bones to gnaw on, from which they can extract calcium that they are not getting in their regular diet.