Overview of Canine Eclampsia
Eclampsia is the sudden onset of clinical signs associated with low blood calcium levels (hypocalcemia) that occur in lactating (nursing) bitches. It is caused by loss of calcium in the milk and is often combined with poor dietary calcium intake. This condition is different from eclampsia in women, which is related to blood pressure abnormalities prior to birth.
Predisposing Factors for Eclampsia in Dogs
What to Watch for
Signs of Eclampsia in Dogs may include:
Diagnosis of Eclampsia in Dogs
The history and clinical signs are generally very suspicious of eclampsia. A biochemical profile confirms the hypocalcemia. The total serum calcium is usually less than 7 mg/dl. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) may also be found. Rapid response to treatment with intravenous calcium helps to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of Eclampsia in Dogs
Dogs with eclampsia usually require immediate emergency care. The definitive treatment involves returning blood calcium levels to normal and decreasing calcium loss from the body, which may include weaning and hand feeding the puppies. Treatment usually includes:
The best way to prevent eclampsia is to avoid calcium supplementation during pregnancy and to feed the pregnant bitch a well-balanced, good quality food. Supplementation of the bitch with calcium may be helpful once the puppies are delivered and are beginning to nurse. Supplemental feeding of the puppies may also be beneficial, especially for large litters.