Breeding, Whelping

Calcium Related Issues in Dogs after Whelping

Donald Bramlage, DVM

November 22, 2021

dog with puppy

Most people understand the importance of calcium in dogs during labor and nursing. The short story is do not give supplemental calcium before labor, and 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 Eclampsia can happen at that time. In the last 24 months, we have seen a different set of issues surface for moms after whelping.

These calcium-related problems 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

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 calcium, but always remember, good moms who milk hard are the most vulnerable to calcium deficiency.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.

Last reviewed by Marty Greer, DVM.

Written by: Donald Bramlage, DVM

Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.