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Thread: Eclampsia

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Eclampsia

    Thought I would post this as a warning to others to be vigilant when they have a litter of puppies.
    Just over a week ago, the Mum of my 4.5 week old puppies, a healthy litter of 4, started acting oddly. She refused some food, and started panting as she did when she was in labour. Within a matter of 5 minutes she started face rubbing and jumping up and down off the sofa. I started to think she was just hot... I had the heating on full blast as I was poorly with a vile stomach bug so I let her out in the garden to cool off and rang my friend for advice as she has had a bitch with eclampsia in the past. She came straight up to look at her, but in the 5 minutes it took her to get here, Beth was staggering and her back legs were going. I knew then something was seriously wrong so called the vet to say we were on our way.
    It took 15 minutes to drive there and by the time we arrived she was stiff, heart racing and panting like a train. She couldnt stand up.
    The Vet met us at the door, no messing about, just whacked her full of calcium and after 10 minutes she started to improve. It took another dose of calcium 20 minutes later to do the trick.
    Such a close call, 5 more minutes and I would have lost her, terrifying as it happened so so fast.
    I have completely weaned the babies, they are doing great and Mum is fine too.
    I think I am extremely lucky to still have her, Thanks to the fact that I was here when she became unwell and to the prompt action from my Vet. She rang me at home 24 hrs later to enquire how she was doing too.
    Once seen never forgotten and I pray that I never have to experience that ever again.

    I think she may have been pushed over the edge, despite calcium tablets every day since she whelped, due to a slightly loose tummy and an older pup from another litter sneaking a crafty slurp when he could!

    Karen x

  2. #2

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    [QUOTE=karen;62568]Thought I would post this as a warning to others to be vigilant when they have a litter of puppies.

    Phew,
    What a close call you both had Karen! So relieved it all ended well for you and the bitch! Eclampsia is one we all dread, and, as you so rightly say, 'once seen, never forgotten'.
    Thanks for your post - a good reminder.
    Elspeth

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Chicago suburb, Illinois, USA
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    Default

    So glad it all turned out well for you. I had a bitch with eclampsia several years ago. Thank god I knew the symptoms and got her to the emergency vet immediately. It can kill in minutes.
    Sue

    Susan Shidler
    AKC Breeder of Merit
    SevenWoods Cavaliers
    Mettawa, IL USA

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Australia, near Shepparton in Victoria
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    Unhappy It's a horrible problem

    SORRY, THIS POST IS LONGER THAN I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE

    I've had more than enough experience with Eclampsia in years gone by, but fortunately, none in more recent years. It seems to run in lines to some extent. I hope I've eliminated it from my breeding - but don't want to speak too soon. You know, Sod's Law etc. Just when we think we've found an answer to something, it comes back to bite us on the rear !

    This is an emergency situation, and there is no time to waste - always have a supply of liquid calcium on hand in the refrigerator from about 1 week before whelping is due. And a supply of 5ml syringes to administer it orally. Even if it's not needed, it's better to have it there, than not have it on hand. I'd rather have to throw it in the bin unused when it reaches it's use by date, than have a panic if it's not on hand when needed. I use Calcium Sandoz liquid. I don't use tablets or capsules.

    Trying to prevent this by feeding calcium supplements when it's not needed can only make the situation more likely to happen. These days, I feed NO calcium supplement before whelping, just decent quality food (ProPlan, beef mince, good old plain unflavoured yoghurt, Royal Canin Dental for large breeds - the latter because Cavaliers are soooo greedy and just swallow the small size without chewing it !).

    I feed a 1/2 teaspoon of calcium carbonate powder daily, mixed with raw beef mince for mothers post whelping. Plus other food, of course

    Three things which IMO can precipitate this insidious condition - too much heat, too much noise, too much light. If these 3 can be reduced or eliminated, you have just about won the battle against this occuring.

    My rule of thumb regarding too much heat is - if the bitch doesn't want to stay in with the puppies, it's usually because the box is too hot.

    Re light - I use a small bedside lamp in the far corner of the room away from bitch and puppies, just so that I can see what's happening when I need to investigate.

    Re noise - NO visitors EVER until the puppies are over 6 weeks, and keep mum and puppies isolated in a room by themselves until they are weaned. I sleep (sort of try to !) besides my girls and their babies for at least the first 2-3 weeks. Most bitches are perfectly capable of regulating everything without constant interference from us humans and other dogs - they just need checking on from time to time, or when a puppy squeaks etc.

    If the bitch's temperature is over 39C, I give 5mls of liquid calcium and watch her very closely for another 5 minutes. If her temperature doesn't go down to about 38.5C, I give another 5 mls of liquid calcium, provided other symptoms are evident - excessive panting, agitated mum, pale gums, glassy look in the eyes as if she is not focussing on anything, quivering in the muscles in the rear end especially, being disinclined to take an interest in the puppies, stiffening of the joints especially in the rear, etc.

    At this point, if the temperature is not obviously reducing, I ring the vet and give a quick rundown of symptoms, and then we decide what to do next. This is usually to give the bitch another 10mls of liquid calcium and get in the car to get the bitch to the vet asap - no time to clean up, change grubby clothes, comb hair etc. Just get going pronto !

    There's probably heaps more I could write here, and some I've forgotten to include.

    BUT - rule number 1, 2, 3 to 100 - constant observation of your bitch and puppies is always best. Lack of observation is where most people go wrong - but write it all down so you can be sure you are telling your vet everything that's been happening.

    Good luck

    p.s. Constant observation IS necessary for the first 2-3 days post whelping especially - if you can't do this yourself, get someone in to observe when you can't be there.
    Last edited by Jenny Howden, Australia; 12-01-2012 at 03:59 AM.
    Jenny at Erinport
    Where Excellence Without Exaggeration Counts

  5. #5
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    Default

    Great advice Jenny! Thanks for posting. I know how lucky I was... pure chance I was home, should have been at work but was off sick that day. If I hadnt have been poorly myself I would probably have returned home to find her dead.
    As for no changing before rushing to the vets.... I went in my Pyjamas with a sweatshirt chucked over the top, a high temp and feeling rather sick, I was as white as a sheet apparently!
    Didnt care how awful I felt and looked, just had to get her there fast.
    This is a real veterinary emergency and can kill in minutes, If you have ANY suspicions dont delay and get to a Vet immediately.
    I was lucky the Vet didnt insist on doing blood tests first to check her levels, she just injected her immediately... It saved her life.

  6. #6
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    Australia, near Shepparton in Victoria
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    Smile You're entirely welcome Karen

    Any little bits of info we can gather from other breeders' experiences are always useful - my first run-in with this ghastly thing was over 35 years ago, and I was soooo lucky to have my mentor to help me through it, even if it was long-distance phone call from Melbourne to Perth

    Glad your girl is okay - and hope you're feeling much better yourself

    BUT - we learn something new every day - or we should

    p.s. IF - we had photos of our emergency trip to vets, we should swap them. But I don't have any - my garb sounds like yours !
    Last edited by Jenny Howden, Australia; 12-01-2012 at 07:51 AM. Reason: added p.s.
    Jenny at Erinport
    Where Excellence Without Exaggeration Counts

  7. #7

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    I've had two bitches go down with eclampsia. The first time I'd been giving calcium/vitamin D tablets, and her pups were two weeks old. When I got to the vet (quite a short drive) she was literally dripping milk and unable to stand. he gave her calcium intravenously, but told me it was dangerous to do so as the shock can kill a bitch - he considered it necessary because of her advanced state. When I said I'd given her tablets he REALLY tore me off a strip; told me that all was needed was a good balanced diet but if i really felt the need to give extra calcium to do it a form that her body would use if necessary; had I ever thought of cheese???? This was my fourth litter. I bred from her again with no problems.

    He daughter from the second litter also developed eclampsia with her first litter of five puppies, about the same time, two weeks after the pups were born, but less severe. She had an intramuscular injection. I was doubtful about having another litter from her, but did; and she was perfectly OK with a litter of six.

    There are quite few descendants of these two, but I've not heard of any who have suffered from it so conclude that there were probably environmental factors of my making.

    Oddly, I do almost the opposite of Jenny now. I used to keep Mum and pups isolated, but after these experiences took to having them in a pen in the sitting room, under my nose, with the other dogs around. I also think that helps with socialising; they hear music, the vacuum cleaner, get used to noise and visitors etc. I've written before about my Mastiff producing milk and suckling one litter! They were five/six weeks old, so fairly well weaned by then.

    Jane

  8. #8
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    My vet gave the calcium in 3 separate intramuscular injections, and then another 3 around 15-20 mins later. She said you can give Intravenously but it can cause the heart to go into arythmia and stop it altogether so she didnt want to do that! Her advice was to give calcium to a recently whelped bitch and to start it around a week after delivery, never before they have whelped. I was told to keep her away from the puppies for at least 24 hrs but I took her off them completely as they were nearly 5 weeks old and already taking solids well. I have them on Royal Canin starter and they also have goats milk and baby rice, which they love!
    Was worried about mastitis but her milk has started to dry up without any issues on that score.
    Lily has obliged and given them a few courtesy sucks, she had a litter 6 weeks before these were born and still has a bit of milk.

    Karen

  9. #9

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    So sorry to hear about this, Karen, but glad your girl is okay. I've always given my bitches a Tums a day (fruit flavoured or plain!) with no apparent ill effects, and the only time I've had a bitch go in to eclampsia was when I gave the calcium and Vit D tabs instead. Just once, never again.
    Sheena Stevens

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Default

    Hi Karen

    Sorry to hear of your drama. Can I ask what you are/were feeding her on?

    Years ago, we had a bitch go down with Eclampsia....like you we had a middle of the night race to the vets where he injected her with the calciam and within half an hour she was back to normal. He asked what we fed and like Jane were torn off a strip when we told hm we were feeding a complete food (I think Hills at the time) plus canovel calcium tablets.

    He told us we can do as much harm by giving them too much calcium as not enough. Apparently if you 'overdose' with calcium, the body will stop producing it naturally and thus they eventually become deficient and can develop eclampsia

    You mention that the puppies are now on Royal Canin Starter.....this is a completely balanced diet, and therefore, if this is what you were feeding your girl also and then giving extra calcium on top, I would guess this is what might have happened.

    I use Royal Canin Starter for all my girls both in whelp and lactating, and find it wonderful (I know a lot of people feed 'natural' and I wouldn't poo poo that) but with the RC I know exactly how much they need to be eating through each stage of their pregnancy and during nursing, and I also wean and rear my puppies on it, and am very pleased with the results.

    Glad she is all ok and back to normal

    Lucy

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