Most people understand the importance of calcium in dogs during labor and milking. The short story is . . . do not give supplemental calcium before labor, and once early labor begins, you should provide balanced calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium supplements. (See Calcium in Pregnant Dogs) We know milk production increases gradually 10 to 14 days post whelping, so milk fever or Eclampsia can happen at that time. In the last 24 months, we have seen a different set of issues surface for moms after whelping.
These calcium-related problems include:
Four-week nursing milk fever
Shaking or seizing
Jitteriness; moms constantly up and down, unable to relax their bodies
Not allowing nursing because of extreme anxiety
Laying on their tummies instead of their sides, preventing babies from eating
Overprotectiveness to the point of eating their babies
Ranging from frustrating to disturbing, these behaviors and symptoms need to be corrected at once. None of these calcium issues occur consistently; however, they respond to a quality oral calcium with vitamin D and magnesium for whelping females initially and then a quality calcium and phosphorus for canines daily while nursing. The big issue is quickly recognizing this set of unusual problems and then treating before babies are lost.
When you suspect a calcium issue, double the dose of oral calcium gel and repeat in 30 minutes if it does not appear to resolve the issue. These moms usually respond well and return to normal quickly, but dose again in 6 hours to make sure we don't relapse. Give a quality calcium supplement for canines until nursing is stopped to prevent regression. Likely, this calcium deficiency has come on slowly and needs to be corrected over several weeks. Mom will replace the calcium stores in her bones, but that takes time.
We don't know why we are getting more issues with calcium, but always remember, good moms who milk hard are the most vulnerable to calcium deficiency.
Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
If you need help, call Revival Animal Health at 1-800-786-4751.
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