Milk Fever In Dogs: What Is It Symptoms and Treatment

Milk Fever In Dogs

Here’s a breakdown of milk fever (postpartum eclampsia) in dogs, focusing on what owners need to know:

What is Milk Fever?

  • It’s NOT an infection, but a sudden drop in the dog’s blood calcium levels.
  • Typically happens right after birth or during nursing, due to the high calcium needs for producing milk.
  • Can be life-threatening without prompt treatment.


  • Poor diet during pregnancy and nursing.
  • Underlying health conditions affecting calcium absorption.
  • Genetics – some breeds, especially small ones, are more prone.

Symptoms: The Danger Signs

  • Restlessness, nervousness
  • Muscle tremors that worsen into seizures
  • Vomiting, loss of appetite
  • Fever, rapid breathing
  • Neglecting newborn puppies

What To Do: First Aid & Vet Care

  • First Aid: Some calming medications and calcium supplements can help, BUT…
  • Real Emergency: Vet visit is essential. They administer intravenous calcium and treat any underlying issues.
  • NO HOME REMEDIES ALONE: Wrong treatment can be fatal.


  • Vet stabilizes the dog with calcium injections, often in a hospital setting.
  • Underlying causes are addressed (diet change, supplements, etc.).
  • Puppies might need temporary bottle-feeding while the mother recovers.

Prevention is Key

  • Balanced, high-quality diet throughout pregnancy and nursing, especially for higher-risk breeds.
  • Regular vet checkups to catch potential health problems early.
  • Minimize stress around the dog during birth and after.
  • Know the signs! Early action saves lives.

Key Takeaways

  • Milk fever is a serious risk for some dogs, don’t dismiss early symptoms.
  • Work closely with your vet to create a good diet and health plan for your pregnant/nursing dog.
  • If you see ANY signs of milk fever, it’s a vet emergency, not a wait-and-see situation.
  • Prevention is WAY easier and safer than dealing with the crisis of eclampsia.

Causes Of Milk Fever in Dogs:

Milk fever can occur in bitches both after the end of labor and several hours before the birth process begins. During this period, the level of calcium in the bloodstream decreases sharply. There are several reasons for the development of postpartum eclampsia. Experts highlight:

Problems In The Functioning Of The Endocrine System:

Malfunctions of the parathyroid and thyroid glands negatively affect the functioning of the entire body. First of all, when there are problems in the parathyroid gland, a change in calcium metabolism occurs. Insufficient absorption of microelements from food due to a lack of necessary enzymes or hormones can lead to a sharp decrease in labile (circulating in the blood) calcium, causing specific symptoms.

Violation Of The Regime And Diet:

Eclampsia in animals is characterized by a sharp increase in reflex excitability in the cerebral cortex. Veterinary experts cite serious disturbances in the feeding of the animal during gestation as the reason.

At risk, according to veterinarians, are females who receive homemade food – meat, cereals and other products not selected by a nutritionist.

There is also an opinion among dog breeders that it is beneficial for females to add more meat to their diet during the gestation period. After all, this is a useful protein necessary for the functioning of the predator’s body.

But it is worth remembering that absolutely all meat products are saturated with phosphorus, and this in turn leads to an imbalance between calcium and phosphorus. As a result, hyperphosphatemia may develop. With the development of hypocalcemia (decreased calcium levels in the blood), this process plays an important role.

Pathological Processes In The Digestive Tract:

Postpartum eclampsia in dogs develops as a result of many different factors. Experts call pathological processes in the digestive tract one of the reasons. The body of a sick female experiences enormous stress during pregnancy. At the end of the gestation period, a malfunction may occur.

It is noted that milk fever often develops 2-3 weeks after birth, against the background of lactation. There are a number of cases where prenatal eclampsia developed (approximately 15 days before the planned birth). Cases of the development of postpartum eclampsia 3-4 weeks after the end of childbirth are recorded much less frequently.

Genetic Predisposition:

There are a number of genetic pathologies that affect the body as a whole and are especially pronounced during periods of stress, which essentially is the period of pregnancy and childbirth.

There is a protein in the blood that transports calcium ions – albumin. With an acute lack of albumin in the bloodstream, proper calcium transfer is impossible. Transportation is difficult, so the pregnant female experiences hypoalbuminemia. Symptoms of eclampsia are highly likely to develop.

Against this background, animals with disorders at the genetic level should not participate in breeding. After all, this puts at risk not only the female herself but also her offspring. Genetic predisposition to postpartum eclampsia is inherited. Such females are discarded and are not allowed to breed in the future.

Kidney Disease:

Kidney disease can affect calcium levels in the blood. The fact is that the process of regulating calcium levels in the bloodstream is multi-stage and includes several processes.

At the initial stage, when the amount of calcium changes, a serious load occurs on the body. With an increase in extracellular calcium, its crystals are deposited in tissue structures, and stones begin to form in the kidneys. With a long-term pathological process, the formation of bone structures is also disrupted.

Calcium is excreted by the kidneys. With serious pathologies of this organ, the level of calcium changes, resulting in dangerous consequences, including the death of the pet.

Symptoms of Postpartum Eclampsia in Dogs:

Milk tetany in some cases can develop in the second half of pregnancy. However, the signs of impending danger are erased and cannot be identified by the owner in a timely manner.

In the vast majority of cases, eclampsia develops immediately after birth during the first two days after the puppies are born. Signs appear quickly and increase rapidly. Less common in veterinary clinical practice is tetany, which develops several weeks after birth in a female.

The first symptoms that should alert the owner of a bitch are:

  • The appearance of attacks of nausea and vomiting after childbirth;
  • The occurrence of convulsive phenomena;
  • Increase in body temperature to high levels;
  • Increased heart rate and increased palpitations are associated with the development of oxygen starvation in the body;
  • Breathing problems – shortness of breath, shortness of breath;
  • Impaired coordination of movements, loss of balance that occurs against the background of oxygen starvation;
  • Sudden loss of visual acuity, impaired concentration, photophobia (even in dim light, the pet feels discomfort and tries to hide);
  • Change in behavior – an apathetic state, indifference to newborn puppies, the possible appearance of aggression or, on the contrary, detachment from what is happening;
  • Refusal to eat food and even water.
  • The pet has a noticeable tremor of the front and hind limbs, which gradually develops into convulsions.

Symptoms develop quite quickly and in the absence of timely assistance, death due to paralysis is possible.

Any of the above symptoms require the intervention of a veterinarian. In some cases, milk tetany develops so rapidly that paralysis occurs already 2 to 3 hours after the first signs of pathology appear.

Before the veterinarian arrives at the house, the owner can provide first aid. The owner of the animal must know how to help his pet in an emergency. Have a 10% calcium gluconate solution on hand. You can pour the solution directly into the animal’s mouth or try to administer it intramuscularly. It depends on the condition of the female:

  • At the initial stages, you can pour into the mouth a solution of calcium gluconate diluted in saline in equal proportions;
  • In case of moderate severity of the animal’s condition, calcium gluconate is administered subcutaneously (in the withers area) or intramuscularly in exactly the same concentration as administered orally;
  • In the acute stage, administration should be exclusively intravenous. It is extremely difficult to do this at home and you cannot do it without a veterinary specialist.

Diagnostics is very important to determine the severity of your pet’s condition. It is very important to provide adequate care to the animal and this should be done by a veterinarian. In order to make an accurate diagnosis, the following are prescribed:

General clinical blood test and biochemical panel – necessary to diagnose possible inflammatory processes and determine the concentration of calcium in the bloodstream;

A thorough examination by a specialist to exclude possible problems in the central nervous system (for example, epilepsy).

Taking an anamnesis and examining a sick female is necessary to exclude possible pathological conditions from the central nervous system. The cause of the development of convulsions, nausea, and other symptoms inherent in tetany can be trauma to the skull, inflammation of the meninges, or spinal cord injuries.

Based on the data obtained, the specialist develops the treatment tactics necessary to stabilize the animal’s condition and get rid of postpartum eclampsia.

Treatment of Postpartum Eclampsia in Dogs:

The treatment regimen is developed by the doctor based on the research results. Depending on the severity of the dog’s condition, therapy will be prescribed. At home, it is impossible to provide adequate assistance to a pet if it is in serious condition. Hospitalization required.

In a veterinary clinic, a specialist administers calcium supplements, monitoring any changes in the animal’s condition. The functioning of the central nervous system is corrected and supported with the help of drugs such as magnesium sulfate and sulfocamphocaine. A dog with postpartum eclampsia is prescribed a special diet, and calcium supplements are additionally introduced into the food.

It is quite difficult to predict the development of milk tetany in a bitch. However, if the owner takes appropriate preventative measures, the risks of developing pathology will be reduced. Careful monitoring of any changes in your pet’s condition will allow you to promptly seek help from a veterinarian and provide assistance to the animal.

Prevention of the development of postpartum eclampsia consists of preparing the correct diet for pregnant and lactating females. The basis of the diet should be dairy products, but the amount of meat should be reduced. The best supplier of calcium is adapted milk. Calcium supplements prescribed by a veterinarian are also needed.

If milk tetany has already occurred, the animal should be treated in accordance with the recommendations of a specialist. If injectable calcium supplements are required, all procedures should be followed.

In order to prevent the development of eclampsia in a dog, it is necessary to try to protect your pet from possible stress. Changes in hormonal levels during the period of bearing puppies and after childbirth can be aggravated by stress in the female.

For proper absorption of calcium in the body, a supply of vitamin D is necessary. Preparations with calcium and ergocalciferol (vitamin D) are included as an obligatory part of the prevention of the development of postpartum eclampsia.

A female who has had postpartum eclampsia after a previous birth needs to be looked after more carefully, contacting a veterinarian at the slightest change in the condition.

First Aid For a Dog:

The first thing the owner can do at the first symptoms of milk fever is to dilute five drops of Valocordin in a glass of water and give it to the patient. You can lightly wet your nose with this mixture.

Next, open a five-milliliter ampoule of calcium gluconate and pour it into the dog’s mouth. If the animal is large, the dose should be calculated – two milliliters are needed per kilogram of weight.

If acute symptoms already appear, the drug should be administered intravenously. It cannot be administered intramuscularly, so as not to provoke tissue necrosis. The medicine should be warmed. Indicated for use is a solution of calcium chloride intravenously.

If symptoms just begin to appear – orally, half with warm milk. The reddened and hyperthermic puncture site should be injected with a 0.25% novocaine solution or a 0.9% sodium chloride solution. The dosage is: for miniature individuals – up to three cubes, for large breeds – up to eight cubes. The complex medicine Kamagsol, a glucose solution, is indicated for use.

After relieving acute symptoms, it is recommended to use drugs that help stimulate the central nervous system: sulfocamphocaine – administered intramuscularly, diphenhydramine – a dose of up to one cube, depending on the size of the animal.

You should not relax if acute symptoms have been stopped; eclampsia tends to recur. It is necessary to continue treatment by taking calcium-containing medications – tablets or in the form of an enema.

Intravenous administration of the medication should be continued for a week. If it is not possible to use intravenous administration, dilute the calcium chloride solution with milk in half and drink it for about a month. It is recommended to use valerian drops or Corvalol.

Place five drops on the surface of the tongue three times a day for a week. After the expiration date, use these drops only if the pet is excited. Breastfeeding is not allowed. Puppies are switched to artificial food. Intravenous medications are administered slowly, while constantly monitoring changes in the patient’s heartbeat.

Five drops of Valocordin should be diluted in water and given to the dog.


To minimize the risk of developing eclampsia in dogs, it is necessary to examine animals before mating and use only healthy representatives of the breed for breeding. Not all diseases cause noticeable symptoms,

so it is important to ensure that the animal has normal blood chemistry, is regularly treated for parasites, is vaccinated annually, eats a balanced diet throughout its life, and receives puppy food for the last 3 weeks of the gestation period. All this provides the dog with a resource for successful pregnancy and lactation.

It is important to remember that stress contributes to the development of hypocalcemia, so it is necessary to prevent stressful situations. The bitch needs to create the most comfortable conditions for childbirth and the lactation period. It must have its own place in which the following requirements are met:

  • The presence of a birth box of optimal size with sides of such a height that the puppies could not get out or get injured, but the mother could, if necessary, leave the “nest” without stepping on the offspring;
  • Restriction of visiting people (except the owner);
  • Maintaining an optimal ambient temperature of 24 C°;
  • Maintaining optimal indoor humidity (60% or more);
  • Ensuring constant access to clean water (for normal lactation a dog needs a lot of fluid);
  • Introduction of a calcium supplement into the diet of dogs at risk during lactation.


For the purpose of prevention, it is necessary to follow a diet and prepare the dog’s diet according to the veterinarian’s recommendations. Do not ignore scheduled medical examinations and vaccinations. Avoid reducing the animal’s immunity, diagnose possible pathologies in a timely manner, and take measures to eliminate them.

Keep your pet clean and avoid stressful or dangerous situations. Limit contact with stray animals, and carry out deworming in a timely manner to avoid the development of infections.

For more detailed information and further guidance, consider exploring the following resources:

  • “Recognizing a fever is the first step to caring for your unwell pet. If you suspect your dog has a fever but aren’t sure, here’s a detailed guide on how to confirm it.”  How to Tell if a Dog Has a Fever.
  • “Knowing how to comfort your dog when they have a fever is crucial for their recovery and well-being. For a step-by-step guide on easing your dog’s discomfort during this tough time, read more here.”  How to Comfort a Dog with a Fever.
Aapt Dubey
Aapt Dubey

Aapt Dubey, a devoted canine enthusiast and experienced dog Owner, brings boundless passion to our team. With a heart full of love for our four-legged friends, Aapt is dedicated to sharing insights on dog care, behavior, and training to make every pup's life happier and healthier at

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