Breeding, Whelping

Calcium Related Issues in Dogs after Whelping

Should I give my nursing dog calcium supplement? Most people understand the importance of calcium in dogs during labor and nursing. The short story is do not give supplemental calcium before labor. However, once early labor begins, you should provide balanced calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium supplements. The goal is to get three to four doses of calcium in mom before the first puppy hits the ground. We know milk production increases gradually 10 to 14 days post whelping, so milk fever or canine Eclampsia can happen at that time. In the last few years, we have seen a different set of issues surface for female dogs after whelping.

What is a Calcium Deficiency in Dogs After Whelping?

Calcium-related problems in dogs after whelping include:

  • Four-week nursing milk fever
  • Shaking or seizing
  • Jitteriness; moms constantly up and down, unable to relax their bodies
  • Not allowing nursing because of extreme anxiety
  • Laying on their tummies instead of their sides, preventing babies from eating
  • Overprotectiveness to the point of eating their babies

How Much Calcium Should I Give My Dog After Giving Birth?

Ranging from frustrating to disturbing, these behaviors and symptoms need to be corrected at once. None of these calcium issues occur consistently; however, they respond to Breeder’s Edge Oral Cal Plus Gel initially and then Breeder’s Edge Oral Cal Plus Powder daily while nursing. The big issue is quickly recognizing this set of unusual problems and then treating before babies are lost.

When you suspect a calcium issue, double the dose of oral calcium gel (Breeder’s Edge Oral Cal Plus) and repeat in 30 minutes if it does not appear to resolve the issue. These moms usually respond well and return to normal quickly, but dose again in six hours to make sure we don’t relapse. Give Breeder’s Edge Oral Cal Plus Powder until nursing is stopped to prevent regression. Likely, this calcium deficiency has come on slowly and needs to be corrected over several weeks. Mom will replace the calcium stores in her bones, but that takes time.

We don’t know why we are getting more issues with low calcium in dogs after birth, but always remember, good moms who milk hard are the most vulnerable to calcium deficiency.

If you need help or have more questions about calcium for nursing dogs, call us at 800.786.4751.

Article originally written by Donald Bramlage, DVM, Revival’s Former Director of Veterinary Services. This article has been updated/reviewed by Dr. Greer.

Written by: Marty Greer, DVM

Director of Veterinary Services

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.