What is Canine Preeclampsia and Eclampsia?

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Canine preeclampsia is a life-threatening condition during pregnancy and after delivery when there is a deficiency of calcium in the blood stream. The medical condition for low blood calcium is called hypocalcemia. This condition also can occur after the

There are two forms of this disorder which are called preeclampsia and eclampsia. Eclampsia is a more severe form of preeclampsia. Both of these disorders are more commonly known as milk fever. The symptoms of preeclampsia in dogs are tetany; this is a life threatening condition. If the condition goes on to the more serious form, eclampsia, the dog may also have seizures. The dog could die very quickly.

A dog with eclampsia or preeclampsia will have symptoms that include trembling all over; this is what is referred to as tetany.  The dog may not be able to walk because she will be extremely week from an electrolyte disturbance. The dog will appear very sick and have a worried expression on her face. She can’t talk to you, but you will definitely know that something is wrong by her body posture and the look on her face that seems to say “please help me.” In full blown eclampsia the dog can have seizures and go into a coma and die.

Several years ago I had a female Pomeranian named Caramel Chips; we called her “Carmie”. I bred her so that we could have some puppies. She delivered her babies, but then she became very sick within a short time. One day she was trembling all over and I didn’t know what was wrong with her. It was a very frightening site. She looked like she was drunk on her feet. She couldn’t even stand up.

I knew something was very wrong with my dog, but I had no idea what it was. I took her to the vet and she was severely low on calcium; the vet said she had eclampsia. The vet gave her some IV calcium with some IV fluids and then let her come home. We had to give her calcium supplements while she was nursing.  

A dog that has hypocalcemia (eclampsia, milk fever), after she has had her pups may not be interested in nursing and caring for her pups. If this is the case, it is because she is too sick to care for them. In our case, Carmie couldn’t care for her babies until we got her electrolytes back to normal. We didn’t let Carmie have any other litters after she had this scary episode of eclampsia. It nearly killed her, and the vet said that it could happen again if she were to have another litter.

If you have a dog that is pregnant or nursing pups and she starts acting like she is drunk by staggering when she walks, or she is trembling all over, she could have depleted calcium levels in her blood. She could have preeclampsia or full blown eclampsia. Your dog could die without veterinary attention. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, get your dog help right away, because she could convulse and go into a coma and she could possibly die.  


Personal experience with an eclamptic dog

1 comment

Norma Lawrence
Posted on Apr 8, 2012