Hypocalcemia In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

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Hypocalcemia in dogs happens when calcium levels in the blood are abnormally low. Several medical conditions can cause dogs’ blood calcium levels to drop, including renal failure, pancreatitis, or injuries to certain areas of the body. Calcium is important, as it plays a role in bone growth, muscle contractions, and blood coagulation among other functions. When dogs experience a calcium deficiency, they may suffer from a loss of muscle control, convulsions, or seizures. Hypocalcemia is a serious medical condition that should be treated immediately. If you see the signs of hypocalcemia in your dog, consult your veterinarian right away for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Here is what you should know about they symptoms, causes, and treatments for hypocalcemia in dogs.

Symptoms Of Hypocalcemia In Dogs

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The symptoms of hypocalcemia in dogs can vary based on the cause of the condition and how severe the calcium deficiency is. Dogs that suffer from mild hypocalcemia may show no signs of illness at all until calcium levels fall dangerously low. Here are some of the symptoms that may be experienced by dogs suffering from hypocalcemia.

  • Muscle twitches, spasms, or tremors
  • Loss of coordination
  • Rubbing the face against objects
  • Loss of control over body movements
  • Stiff gait
  • Panting
  • Unusual changes in behavior
  • Weakness
  • Listlessness
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures

Causes Of Hypocalcemia In Dogs

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There are many possible underlying causes of hypocalcemia in dogs. Calcium in the body is strongly tied to albumin, a protein found in the blood. Hypoalbuminemia is a drop in albumin, which often directly relates to a drop in calcium levels. In fact, over half of hypocalcemia cases can be linked to hypoalbuminemia. Here are several other possible causes of low blood calcium levels in dogs.

  • Renal failure
  • Alkalosis
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Oxalate toxicity
  • Hypomagnesaemia
  • Pancreatitis
  • Rickets
  • Puerperal tetany
  • Citrate toxicity
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Milk fever
  • Trauma
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Septicemia
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • Ethylene glycol intoxication
  • Loss of calcium in urine
  • Phosphate enema
  • Tumor lysis syndrome

Treatments For Hypocalcemia In Dogs

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Treatment for hypocalcemia in dogs depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. For dogs with dangerously low calcium levels, calcium rich fluids may be administered intravenously until levels are back to normal. In cases of mild hypocalcemia, oral medication and vitamin D are often prescribed. It is important to monitor calcium levels to make sure that dogs aren’t given too much calcium or they may develop the opposite condition, which is hypercalcemia. As dogs recover, veterinarians may prescribe continued calcium supplementation to avoid a relapse.

If an underlying cause is discovered, it will be treated accordingly. Pancreatitis, for example, may require hospitalization and extensive treatment. Hypoparathyroidism may need to be treated with calcium and vitamin D supplements. Treating these underlying conditions often corrects the hypocalcemia, and additional treatment for the condition may not be necessary. It is important to monitor dogs recovering from hypocalcemia and keep up with follow up veterinary visits to make sure the condition does not return.

Has your dog ever suffered from hypocalcemia? What was the cause? Let us know in the comments below!