Hypocalcemia In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

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Hypocalcemia in dogs happens when calcium levels in the blood are abnormally low. Many medical issues can cause dogs’ blood calcium levels to drop, including renal failure, pancreatitis, or injuries to certain areas of the body.

Calcium is important because it plays roles in bone growth, muscle contractions, and blood coagulation among other functions. When dogs have a calcium deficiency, they may suffer from a loss of muscle control, convulsions, or seizures. Thus, this is a serious medical condition that should be treated right away.

If you see the signs of hypocalcemia in your dog, then you must consult your veterinarian right away for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Here’s what you should know about the 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, as well as how severe the calcium deficiency is. Dogs who suffer from mild cases may show no signs of illness at all until calcium levels fall dangerously low.

Here are some of the symptoms that dogs may experience when they suffer 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 also 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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In general, treatment for hypocalcemia in dogs depends on how severe the condition is and the underlying cause. For dogs with dangerously low calcium levels, vets may provide calcium-rich fluids intravenously until levels return to normal.

When dogs suffer from mild cases, vets often prescribe oral medication and vitamin D. It’s important to monitor calcium levels to make sure that dogs don’t get too much calcium, otherwise they may develop the opposite condition, which is hypercalcemia.

As dogs recover, vets may also prescribe continued calcium supplements to avoid a relapse.

If vets find an underlying cause, they’ll treat it accordingly. Pancreatitis, for example, may require hospitalization and extensive treatment. Hypoparathyroidism, on the other hand, may only need to be treated with calcium and vitamin D supplements.

Treating these underlying issues often corrects the calcium levels, and dogs may not need further treatment. It’s also important to monitor recovering dogs and continue with follow up vet visits to make sure the condition doesn’t return.

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