Definition of Eclampsia
Eclampsia, also called postpartum hypocalcemia, or “milk fever,” is a life-threatening condition that occurs in lactating females due to low levels of calcium in their blood. What causes eclampsia isn’t well-understood, but certainly it is associated with the heavy loss of maternal calcium into developing fetal skeletons during pregnancy and into milk during lactation. Eclampsia usually happens within a few weeks of whelping, while the bitch is actively nursing her puppies. Small dogs that give birth to large litters have an increased chance of developing this disorder. Owners should always feed a high-quality, palatable, highly digestible and nutritionally balanced diet; pregnant bitches fed correctly should not need calcium supplementation. The symptoms of eclampsia come on suddenly and progress quickly. The female becomes restless, anxious and disoriented. She may pant, drool, vomit, whine and pace. She will develop muscle spasms, convulsions, respiratory difficulties, heart problems and seizures. She will die without treatment.