Signs & symptoms of milk fever for dogs

Updated November 21, 2016

Milk fever is a dangerous condition that some dogs can develop after they give birth. This condition, which is also known as eclampsia, is caused by low blood calcium levels. Knowing the signs of eclampsia in dogs can help you recognise it in your dog. Seek veterinary medical help immediately if you believe your dog has eclampsia.


Watch the way your dog walks for signs of eclampsia. Dogs will first become nervous and restless but will then begin walking around with a stiff gait. The dog could wobble and seem unable to balance herself. As time passes, she may have extremely stiff legs or even be unable to walk.


Dogs with eclampsia will also have a high temperature. Check your dog's temperature rectally to make sure it remains stable. Dogs with eclampsia can have temperatures reaching 40.6 degrees Celsius. The high temperature is often paired with rapid, shallow breathing. If your dog reaches this stage, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Otherwise, the dog could die.

Other Behaviors

Along with the other signs, several behaviours can tip you off that your dog has eclampsia. For example, she might vomit or have diarrhoea. She could also tremble, seem disoriented or whine. Many dogs with eclampsia will stop paying attention to their new puppies. Dilated pupils are another signal of this condition.

Risk Factors

Watch for eclampsia in particular if your dog belongs to a small or toy breed, as those dogs are more susceptible to this condition. Dogs with large litters are also more likely to have eclampsia. Giving your dog calcium supplements while she was pregnant could also trigger the condition, as that can alter the dog's natural regulation of calcium levels. Dogs generally develop eclampsia within three weeks after giving birth.

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