Eclampsia or milk fever is found in all breeds of dogs, but most often in the smaller breeds. Females with a heavy supply of milk and actively nursing puppies are especially predisposed to it. Signs include generalized muscle tremors (uncontrollable shivering) and seizures. The condition is due to low calcium in the blood because of the demand for calcium in the milk of nursing dams. Calcium supplementation during pregnancy may be a predisposing cause.
Treatment includes emergency administration of intravenous calcium and supportive care. Eclampsia can be fatal if left untreated. It is important to note that eclampsia may recur with subsequent pregnancies. prevention includes feeding a high quality puppy diet to the dam during nursing.
Home care after hospitalization for eclampsia:
1. Supplement puppies with commercial dog milk replacer.
2. Do no allow the puppies to nurse for a minimum of 24 hours after discharge from the hospital. If the puppies are old enough (at least 4 weeks old) wean them to solid canned puppy diet.
3. After the 24 hour period try adding one puppy with each feeding to nurse from the bitch until all are back nursing. Always watch for any signs of eclampsia and take all the pups off the bitch and call your veterinarian if signs recur.
4. Use all prescribed medication as directed.
5. Be aware that eclampsia can recur.
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