If your dog is pregnant, it is important to prevent eclampsia, an acute life-threatening condition commonly taking place one to three weeks after giving birth. Eclampsia, also known as puerperal tethany mainly occurs when nursing dogs are depleted from calcium, and therefore develop hypocalcaemia, the medical term for low calcium levels in the blood. Fortunately, eclampsia is easy to diagnose since most affected dogs develop typical signs such as restlessness, panting, stiffness, difficulty walking, tremors and high temperatures. However, as for all medical maladies, it is best to prevent the disease rather than treating it.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Meat-based quality dog food
- Vet recommended supplement
Feed your pregnant dog a well-balanced, high quality food. You need to check in particular that the calcium and phosphorus ratios are properly balanced. You want 1.2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus. Vitamin D must also be present in the dog food in adequate amounts. If unsure, ask your veterinarian about a good, meat-based, quality food to give during pregnancy, many vets recommend giving puppy chow.
Avoid supplementing your dog with calcium supplements during pregnancy. It may sound like providing calcium would be a good idea but it is not, as supplying calcium alone will actually predispose your dog to post-whelping eclampsia. If you really want to supplement, you can ask your vet about supplementing with a balanced source of calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin D. This should be added in small amounts to your dog's diet starting around midterm pregnancy.
Wean the puppies as early as possible, especially if your dog is a small breed and this is the first time she gives birth. This will put less strain on the mother and may help prevent post-whelping eclampsia. Puppies can be introduced to puppy mush as early as 3.5 weeks in age. Post whelping eclampsia may also be prevented by supplementing the puppies' milk intake with a milk replacer.
Tips and warnings
- Consider that eclampsia can also occur as late as six weeks after whelping.
- Small breed dogs, dogs with large litters and first-time mothers are more prone to developing eclampsia.
- Ask your veterinarian about keeping some cortisone on hand as it may prove helpful in preventing eclampsia.
- Once a dog has eclampsia there are high chances she may develop it again in future litters.
- If you notice signs of eclampsia remove the pups immediately and seek veterinary assistance.
- Adding too much unbalanced meat such as too much liver may set off the calcium/phosphorus levels.
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