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March 19, 2008


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So if this is your least favorite emergency, do you have a favorite...? :)


That is a tough question. Flipping a bone chip out of a distressed dog's mouth isn't bad, as emergencies go. Mostly I like the ones that aren't in the middle of the night, aren't too much work, and the pet gets well.

Thanks for reading and writing.

libby haver

Sorry to bother you on Father's Day but ....my boxer is pregnant and she was due yesterday but we bred her on the 7th day
of the cycle "just in case" per my vet, so we could be 3 days off or so. She tied the 12th of April and the 16th of April.
Her x-ray was done the 9th of this month and we saw 7 to 9 puppies. This is her first litter she turned 2 in May. I noticed the other day she seemed stiff when she got up, but she had slept in the same spot all night so I thought maybe from laying there for so long her front legs went to sleep. I have been monitoring her temp since Wed. It has fluctuated from 100.9 and for the past 2 nights it has gone down as low as 98.6 last night. This morning 99.6 at noon 98.6 at 2:42 99.8.
At about 10:00 this morning she started shivering but she had been out in the rain but she has been doing it all day now off and on. She has eaten a little bit, not much, yesterday or today but she was never a big eater. She has a small amount of whitish yellow discharge from her vulva.
Her gums are a pinkish white and she has had no more signs of being stiff since the other day.
I squeeve her nipples and a few of them oozed a yellowish fluid but did not seem painful to her.
She seems a little out of it. Has that far off look in her eyes but no panting and I can see the fetuses moving but have seen no contractions. She is not digging or licking her vulva but she does seem very tired and uncomfortable. I am concerned about milk fever, what do you think?
I do need to mention that I spotted tape worms in her stool 2 days ago, I called the vet upset because she was tested before I bred her and when the x-ray was done because she looks thin to me and the tests were negative. They informed me that the test does not pick up tapes???? I think someone should have told me that months ago!!!! She has lost all of her muscle tone and her backbone sticks way up. She has never had fleas but the vet sd that she could have eaten a mouse and could have gotten them that way. We live in the country and she has the run of 12 acres (when she is not pregnant)so it is very possible. Anyway, whatever expert advise you can give me will be so appreciated. I will def be taking her to the vet tomm and maybe tonight. I called te emerenc vet and theys se is probably just in early labor and to keep an eye on her, they sd shivering is a reponse to pain. They are 2 hours away and all of my whelping stuff is ready to go here. It would be terrible for her to deliver her babies in the truck on the way there.


Hello, Libby,

It is very unlikely that your dog has low blood calcium. It is virtually unheard of in large-breed dogs.

Unfortunately, our fecal exams for parasites look for microscopic parasite eggs. The tapeworms pass chunks of worm that are full of the eggs. You are much more likely to find the pieces of tapeworm passing than your veterinarian is to find anything in the microscopic exam. There just really isn't a good test, other than visual inspection of the stool, the dog, and the dog's bedding. Any type of raw meat can be a source, including rabbits and rodents, and fleas are also intermediate hosts (probably responsible for MOST of the tapeworm infestations that I see in my practice). The deworming will be safe for her, despite pregnancy and nursing.

The loss of condition and weight occurs because the mother will sacrifice her own body to keep building the puppies. Nine puppies is a BIG litter. It is very difficult for her to eat enough to satisfy all the demands of pregnancy, even if she is eating a good, high-quality puppy food. Once she delivers, she'll have more room in her stomach and should eat better.

Many mother dogs are uneasy, uncomfortable and restless for two days before the onset of active labor (contractions, pushing, water breaking, etc.). This is often referred to as the "first stage" of labor.

I hope that all goes well.

Thanks for reading and writing.

fever symptoms

A child with a high fever may have a febrile seizure. Symptoms of a seizure include shaking or jerking of the arms and legs, a fixed stare or the eyes rolling back, drooling, heavy breathing, and the skin turning blue. If your child has a febrile seizure, contact your doctor immediately.


how long do i keep my dog away from her pups after she has had milk fever?


Hello, Stacey,

Generally speaking, I recommend bottle-feeding the dogs and not allowing the mother to nurse them. Another episode of low blood calcium is very likely if she resumes nursing them.

My feeling is that these dogs are not physically well-equipped to nurse. Even with supplementation of their diet they can have a relapse of this life-threatening problem.

I am certainly not an expert on reproductive medicine. I am speaking only from my clinical experience.

Your best source of advice is the veterinarian who is treating your dog. Ask him/her what they think is appropriate for your particular case.

Good luck.


Hello Dr., really nice post. This is the second post I have come across where a vet says that supplements are really of no use ,and the last post said they may actually work against calcium production in the body. Can you tell us a bit more about this. I would suggest people use a supplement such as osteo-form with pregnant, lactating or elderly dogs to help prevent calcium deficiency... do you feel this isn't a very good idea? I'd love to know more from you. Thanks!


Hello, Emmy,

I wish I had a lot more expertise to share with you, but I do not.

We rarely recognize osteoporosis even in older dog, provided that they are on a balanced diet. Dogs who are living on Vienna Sausages probably need some dietary supplements, though.

Metabolic disease that causes osteoporosis is unlikely to be improved by supplements. If you've got some hormone wackiness, that needs to be diagnosed.

I am certainly not a nutritionist, nor an internal medicine specialist. Thus, I'm about as far out on the limb as I intend to go.

If you have a specific case in mind, I would be happy to try to investigate further. Bear in mind that my advice could only be general, as I have not examined your pet.

Thanks for reading and writing.


Our dog is 7 lbs and had a litter of 6 large pups. She fed for one week and got hypocalcimea. Thankfully we caught it early. We separated her and the pups. She cries and is very sad and full of milk. Looks all over for her babies. How long will this last? When can they reunite. She can not feed them anymore at all.


Hello, Teri,

It is the buildup of pressure in the udder that causes the dog to stop producing milk. Unfortunately, that is uncomfortable. Sometimes alternating warm and cold compresses helps relieve this discomfort.

It make take a week or more for the udder to dry. She cannot be allowed to have the pups in a possible nursing situation until the udder is completely dry.


Thank you for the feedback. After she is dry and the pups are being bottle fed is it safe to let her care for them, or will she start producing milk again? Do we just need to keep them separated until the pups are eating regular puppy mush? She is searching for the pups crying a lot.


Hello, Terri,

I would allow her to be with the pups only when supervised to avoid them nursing her.

I wouldn't leave them alone with her until they are eating mush and her udder appears dry.


Thank you.


My dog had pups 2 weeks ago. She keeps going through stages where she feels hot and she pants alot then she is fine. She is eating good and drinking alot. Her ttemp is 102.2 tonight but I m worried she may be getting fevers. How can I tell? Out of a litter of 3 she has 1 that survived. She is full of milk. Is there a way I can tell if she has what you explained?


Your veterinarian can check the dog's blood calcium level. With only one pup nursing, I wouldn't expect her to have too heavy a demand, but some dogs get the low blood calcium anyway. It's not so much a diet thing, as it is their body having difficulty maintaining the balance in the bloodstream as they make milk.

102.2 is pretty normal. A dog's normal temperature averages 101.5.


My chihuahua/min pin mix has had this happen approx one year ago. Due to economic stress in our area we were unable to get her fixed and she just had another litter about two weeks ago. She is showing signs of low calcium again even though I have fed her food with extra calcium and she takes a calcium suppliment. She just started showing signs last night so I am wondering if I take the puppies away will her calcium levels come back up on their own or do I still need to take her to our vet?


Hello, Hope,

The stimulus to milk production is being milked out. If you start bottle feeding the puppies, then her milk should dry up, and the blood calcium situation should improve.

If she has severe tremors, she will probably need emergency assistance, as it can progress into convulsions if it gets bad enough.


My miniature dashund had a litter of 6 pups 4 weeks ago today. Last Monday she was really weak and she began to have what I figured to be a seizure so I rushed her to the emergency vet clinic and they told me she had eclampsia. They kept her for about 6 hours and gave her fluids and injections of calcium and when they got her levels back to normal they sent her home with calcium tablets and said she should be ok and to continue to let her nurse the puppies. Well needless to say she relapsed the day before yesterday so I rushed her back to the emergency vet and they kept her overnight. She is home now and the vet said to not let her nurse anymore so we have kept her away from the puppies and now she is very engorged and seems to be in pain. The vet recommended cutting her food back and I did but doesn't seem to help immediately. At this point I have spent a thousand dollars on vet bills and cannot afford to take her to the vet again unless its a real emergency. Do you have any advice as to what I can do to help dry up her milk or even relieve some of her pain? Please help


Hello, Nicole,

The stimulus to milk production is being milked out. So it might relieve her discomfort a little bit to squeeze out the milk, but it wouldn't help "dry her off".

The buildup of pressure in the udder is what will stop the milk production. We don't have a medicine that will do it.

To relieve her discomfort, you can try warm compresses or cold compresses, or alternating the two and seeing which one helps the most.

Soak a towel in warm water (not so hot it would burn your hands - if you can't stand it, neither can she).

For cold compress, you can use a towel soaked in ice-water (NO ice on the skin, please).

You can also ask your veterinarian about some pain medicine to make her more comfortable in the short term.


Thank you

Anne Perry

My English Mstiff is having rigors. She had 10 puppies about 9 days ago. Her temp is 103.7. We don't have an emergency vet and the closest one is over an hour away. It is 9:30 p.m. now. Is this something that I need to take her to the emergency clinic for or will it be okay for me to wait until the morning? These puppies are nursing a lot.


Hello, Anne,

Sorry to be late in replying, but didn't have internet access last night.

I hope that you went to the emergency clinic. Eclampsia is usually life-threatening, though I don't have any experience with such a large dog having it.

Usually it is toy-breed dogs, though I have seen it in a couple of Beagles.

Hope things are okay.


My chihuahua had 5 puppies but 1 she smushed she had them on the 1st onto the 2nd of this month(September) she was fine till the 6th and she started falling and shaking and was HOT I gave her milk and water and after like a hour she was fine.......I believe it is milk fever.. Today September 8 it started off at 5am and now is 7:40 am she is doing it again she shakes then stops shakes and stops fever went down but she is still shaking we don't have a vet here but have one 1 and a half away....what can I do to make it stop now? At home


Hello, Ariel,

I do not know a home remedy for this. Don't let the puppies nurse any more. Feed them with a bottle.

These cases usually require emergency treatment with intravenous calcium gluconate. This is a life-threatening situation.


Ok she finally stopped after we held her as we were falling asleep the puppies are only 6 days old don't they still need the mommas milk?


If she truly has had the low-blood-calcium eclampsia, more nursing will pull more calcium from her bloodstream, and she will have the tremors again. They might not stop without emergency treatment.

I would recommend that you have your dog evaluated by your veterinarian. If this is truly the condition, then the puppies need to be bottle-fed to prevent the mother from producing milk and going back into the low blood-calcium state.

There are good milk replacement formulas available. It is a lot of trouble to bottle-feed, but it may be necessary.

You need to consult your veterinarian.


Hi there. I ran across this page while looking for answers to my dog's situation. I have a 3 yr old Japanese Chin female with 12 day old puppies. Four days ago, we took her to the vet for what we found out to be eclampsia. She was treated and released with a bottle of Osteo-form. About an hour an a half ago, she started having symptoms and I called the emergency vet who told me to give her up to 3 of the calcium pills and that she would be fine until regular vet hours in the morning. She has stopped drooling, her shaking has eased up but not stopped entirely, her little legs aren't rigid anymore and the panting has eased some as well. I got the last pill in her about half an hour ago. I was in a state of semi-panic when I talked to the vet and didn't ask how long it would take for the pills to kick in but they seem to be working as I type this. Figured since you didn't know any home treatments that I could at least provide my experience as a reference of sorts. Plus, it's helping to keep me calm while I wait this out. I hope this information helps!


Hello, Michelle,
I hope that your baby continues to do well. It is uncommon to need additional IV treatments, but certainly not unheard of.

It is important that you not allow the puppies to nurse, and hand-feed then instead. The mom needs to stop making milk.

I usually recommend no further breeding, as well, as this problem tends to recur.


My chihauhau had puppies three days ago the second day I took the puppies of her titi because she is known of having milk fever and the second day I started seeing signs so I'm feeding the puppies formal and she started panting again but only when its feeding time what do I do? Do I need them to feed on her or do I take them away from her?


Hello, Annalee,

The veterinarian who usually sees her is your best source of advice. He/she may want to check blood calcium levels.

If she has had milk fever in the past, she is very likely to have it again. Generally speaking, I would probably put the puppies on formula so that she quits producing milk.

Some dogs just cannot maintain proper blood calcium levels while producing milk, even if there is plenty of calcium in the diet.


My chihauhau puppie is 3days old he keeps crying and I tryed feeding him prepping him seeing if he need to go pee or popo nothing it looks like he is having trouble breathing you can see it in his chest he takes deep breathes and he keeps his mouth open almost all the time and since he was born the mom don't want nothing to do with him he is real little in size in weight is there anything I can do I have no more money I took the mom to get well and now he is having problems and I can't take him because I can't pay if there is anything you can tell me that will help I sure will appreciate the help thank you


Hello, Annalee,

After each feeding, you have to stimulate him to go to the bathroom. His mother would lick him, but you can use your finger. Stroke him starting at the anus, and stroke down to the belly. Doing this several times will usually cause him to go to the bathroom.

If he hasn't gone yet, this could be a problem, as the stool can get too hard to pass.

I really cannot explain to you how to give an enema without seeing the dog.

I am very concerned about the open-mouth breathing. It is possible that some formula got down his windpipe and that he has penumonia.

If he is just congested, sometimes steam will help. You can fog up the bathroom with a hot shower, just like you would for a baby with the croup.

Puppies that are orphaned at less than one week of age do not have a good prognosis, even when you do everything right. It's really hard to raise one from that age.


The puppy isn't doing so good he hasn't ate sincen12:00pm 4/15/14 I have gave him drops lil by lil and he has not move at all not even when I change where he lays he is also breathing real slow and about the stool he had two that were good and one that was big and it cut him alil but these last two stools he has blood coming out not alot it comes out after his stool. Do you have any idea on what this is or how I can help him. Is it best to put him down or this will pass its just he is so small his brothers are 4 of him.


Hello, Annalee,

What you are describing sounds pretty bad. It sounds like he is unlikely to make it.

I wish I had some good advice for you, but I really don't.


Thank you for everything but my Troop did not make it. It just broke my heart to see him go. But I know he is no longer suffering.

Anne Farley

Hello, I have an almost 2 year old miniature dachsand that had 6 puppies last year and came down with calcium deficiency, which I had never heard of before but seems to be quite common among small dogs.
I read an article online, not yours unfortunately, that said it almost always occurs with the 1st litter only. Based on this information, before we spay her, she got pregnant again and I decided to let her have them thinking the 2nd litter would be different. Now that I am reading your articles, this seems unlikely, so can you tell me what I can do to prevent it again. Is it possible that if I bottle feed them as much as I can, and only let her nurse them for a couple days to get the necessary immunities, is it likely it will still become a problem? Keeping her away from the puppies last time was almost as much torture for me as it was for her. She cried and cried and cried and so did I for, that matter. What is the calcium powder mentioned and where do I get it. Is there anything I can do before she gets sick besides no nursing? I too spent thousands running her to the emergency and our vet, plus I also endured being chewed out and shamed by my then vet, as if I was intentionally hurting her. I kept her from nursing as much as could but she or they snuck it in enough for her to get sick again.
She is due within the next week and I now find myself panicking again. Please advise and tell me where I can get this supplement mentioned that seemed to make a difference. Thanks so much for you time and expertise.


Hello, Anne,

Calsorb is a gel, comes in syringes for oral use. Your veterinarian can get it for you. It's a "rescue" product that can possibly prevent the need for IV treatment. You need to talk to the veterinarian who sees your dog. I really can't prescribe for you.

No guarantee that she'll have problems the next time around, but you'd want to be prepared.

You are correct in wanting the puppies to receive the colostrum (first milk, containing immunity transfer from mom).

As to the timing, I've seen it happen in the first 24 hours, but more commonly several days, up to two weeks later.

This is best discussed with your regular veterinarian who knows your dog.

Anne Farley

Thank you so much for the response. I am a wildlife rehab triage transporter, so I do have some experince in diagnosing and treating animals, so I think the cal sorb would be a good option for me just in case. Is here any kind of powder or supplement I can give her now in an effort to prevent it from happening again? I am giving her premium puppy food from the pet store and trying not to give her a lot of meat which was a mistake I made last time, giving her steak and hamburger almost every day. I also gave her milk prior to the births last time. I am a little confused however, is it good to give her goat milk or even goat milk puppy milk replacer after she gives birth? She loved it last time so I let her have it as much as she wanted. Also, is goats milk better to give a pet under any circumstances as opposed to cows milk? The other thing I am working on is making a little garment for her that would allow her to remain with her puppies but not nurse. I think it's important for the bonding to take place if possible. I will share the outcome with you as I think there is a real need for such a thing. It would have made my life so much easier. I feel like she thought she was being punished when I wouldn't let her nurse.

I think it should be any day now because she does have her milk or colostrum in now, and I think she seems smaller than last time so hopefully, she won't have 6 puppies.


Hello, Anne,
As you may have learned, meat is high in phosphorus (which pulls calcium), and zero calcium. So, lots of meat is probably not a great idea.

The puppy food (growth diet) usually does not require additional supplementation.

I really cannot speak to the relative virtues of cow's milk versus goat's milk.

Dee Errington

My English bully had puppies this past Friday, via C-Section. She didn't take to the pups at all an actually attacked 3 of them. Good news is that we found a foster mommy and also bottle feeding the puppies. Now my Darla started panting hard 2 days after surgey, shivering, drooling more and extremely moody to the other dogs she was raised with. Took her to the vet yesterday and her temp was normal. They gave her a shot of a strong antibiotic and them added another along with the Keflex. Vet had no idea what was wrong. Thought it could be stress. After reading up on milk fever I'm pretty sure she may have this. She's not rigid at all and not wobbling. She's eating and drinking. I'm waiting for my vet to return my call...I'm getting extremely anxious.


Hello, Dee,

If she is not nursing the puppies, it is very unlikely to be the low blood calcium.

From your description, I would say the the next step would probably be some blood tests. A blood chemistry panel will tell you if there is a problem with her calcium (also liver, kidney, blood sugar and some other things). A complete blood count will help you evaluate whether there is a serious infection. You may need an ultrasound examination of the uterus.

Your regular veterinarian who sees and knows your dog is your best source of information.

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