Eclampsia (often known as milk fever) is a serious disease caused by calcium deficiency which may occur in late pregnancy or, more usually, after the puppies are born, when the milk production is at its peak. It is more common amongst smaller bitches who are nursing large litters or bitches who are feeding big, healthy, fat puppies really strongly.
The initial symptoms are general restlessness and panting.
Symptoms can progress to nervous twiches and shivering.
There may be evidence of difficulties with co-ordination, collapse and muscular spasms.
Always watch for the early tell tale signs and take the bitch to the vet immediately, day or night, without delay. This is a life-threatening illness and SHOULD NOT be underestimated.
As stated above, emergency treatment is required for this condition. A injection of calcium will be administered by your vet and, if treatment is prompt enough, a dramatic improvement should be seen.
Following urgent treatment for eclampsia, the outlook is good. The puppies should either be fed artificially or, if slightly older, be weaned to prevent the mother’s calcium supplies being depleted still further.
In small dogs or those expected to be carrying larger litters, it may be useful to give calcium supplements in late pregnancy and throughout the lactation period but these supplements should be stopped once the puppies are weaned.