Symptoms of Eclampsia in Dogs

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Puerperal Hypocalcemia

Symptoms of Eclampsia

The symptoms of eclampsia come on suddenly and progress quickly in a healthy, lactating bitch with a thriving litter. The symptoms can be subtle at first and resemble those seen before whelping, including:

  • Restlessness
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Panting
  • Excessive salivation
  • Pacing
  • Whining
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Ataxia (lack of coordination)
  • Muscle tremors or spasms
  • Shaking
  • Twitching
  • Convulsions
  • Tightening of facial muscles
  • Stiffness
  • Aggression
  • Hypersensitivity to touch or other stimuli
  • Continuous, steady muscle spasms without distinct twitching (called “tetany”) Tetany usually presents as rigidity in the legs, unusual pricking of the ears and/or flaring of the nostrils. The signs of eclampsia can advance to where the dog begins to walk in an abnormal, stilted manner and may seem unable to walk in a specific direction.
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Vomiting
  • Itchiness (pruritis)
  • Head rubbing
  • Biting at the feet
  • Extreme thirst
  • Increased water intake
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased body temperature (hyperthermia)

If eclampsia is not treated immediately, it will become life-threatening. Respiration eventually becomes compromised, heart arrhythmias develop and the bitch’s condition deteriorates to seizures, paralysis, coma and death.

Dogs at Increased Risk

Eclampsia is diagnosed most frequently in young, small-breed dogs that have given birth to large litters within the prior 2 to 4 weeks, although any age or breed of lactating bitch can be affected. Eclampsia is especially common in toy breeds. The condition also may occur in dogs that go through a particularly difficult or prolonged labor. Risk factors include large litter size, poor nutrition during gestation, stress, underlying systemic illness and excessive calcium supplementation during pregnancy.

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