Over 10 years ago before I had a lot of breeding experiance I had a dam who developed hypocalcemia (low calcium). Hypocalcemia (low calcium) is a Medical ALERT. It can be fatal. The lack of calcium results in tonoclonic contractions of the skeletal muscles, where the muscles in the body contract convulsing and twitching, limiting movement.
She was 4 to 5 days early when the symptoms began. At that time I didn't know what was wrong, but she had an unsteady gait, like she was on sleepy drugs and I knew that was not normal.
I rushed her to the vet where I was told she had low calcium. It was explained to me that if the dog was not given calcium ASAP she would die.
The vet didn't have the proper equipment and monitoring machines to safely administer calcium to the dog. If we were not careful giving the dam calcium could also kill her. The dam had 8 puppies in her. This was one of my first litters and my dam was very close to a full coma.
I had to make a decision on what to do. The thought was overwhelming and the next thing I knew they were picking me up off the floor. I literally passed out.
The vet gave her a tiny drop of calcium intravenously every few minutes, timing it carefully. The dam tolerated the first syringe and was coming back to us. The second round was given. As soon as the dam was stable the vet had to get the pups out. We expected all of the puppies to be dead and our focus was on saving the dam. Thankfully all the pups survived and the dam recovered. She had low calcium and I had gotten her to the vet in time.
Even the healthiest of dams who are fed the right food can go into low calcium shock. It can happen in the last week of pregnancy or after the pups are born. Low calcium is on the critical list and one must get to the vet fast if they see symptoms or you run the risk of the dam developing eclampsia, among other life threatening ailments.
Courtesy of MistyTrails Havanese