Calcium Supplementation During Gestation
No added calcium, in any form, to the diet during gestation.
Understanding the role of the mineral “calcium” is essential in the
bitches ability to whelp successfully. Calcium plays a big role in
both muscle contraction and building a strong frame work on
which to grow and stand. Calcium is required for muscles to be
able to contract strongly and smoothly. Calcium sets up the timing
for the contractions and determines when they start and end.
In late pregnancy, the bitches need for calcium begins to increase
with the fetal demand and mammary gland development.
If you supplement your bitch with calcium while she is gestating,
you run a very high risk of altering the ph of the mother’s blood. Adding cheese of any kind, yogurt, ice cream, multiple vitamins with
high calcium content, or changing to a puppy food is putting your bitch and puppies at risk.
Preparing to Whelping:
If the blood ph is altered, the hormone secreted by the parathyroid
gland will do a less efficient job of causing the release of calcium
from the bones of the bitch when she needs calcium for strong
contractions. The higher ph level will render the hormone from
the parathyroid gland to be virtually useless. That hormone is the
facilitator for releasing extra calcium out of the bones when the
bitch needs it for uterine contractions.
Supplementing with calcium during gestation will result in: inertia,
inability to push out a puppy, and inability for the uterine muscle to
contract appropriately to bring about the repositioning of a puppy
After the whelps are delivered, the decreased calcium level will
cause the bitch to be unable to figure out how to “mother”.
This is when you add calcium to the diet. Without extra calcium then, she may bark, growl, or lick incessantly at her puppies. A few days into the post partum time, she may go into eclampsia, which
is a seizure disorder caused by low calcium levels.
Now is when you switch to puppy food and use Oral Cal Plus or a balanced calcium supplement with a ration of 2:1 calcium with phosphorus, preferable with vitamin D added, and offer yogurt, cheese, pudding and anything else with calcium.
Calcium supplementation is not complicated and can be totally breeder managed. The key is using it at the right time.
Preventing eclampsia is essential for the bitch as well as the
puppies. With the wonderful products and the knowledge available
to the dog fancy today, success is easy.
Recommendations for having a healthy whelping:
Have your veterinarian check your bitch for parasites and do a vaginal smear a minimum of 30 days prior to breeding. This will
give you plenty of time for treatment if necessary.
Run a titer to check your bitch’s immunity level for parvo and
distemper. Read our article on “Vaccinations”.
Discuss the hormone oxytocin with your veterinarian. Understand
how and when to use it.
I, personally, would never breed a litter without using the homeopathic products “Fading Puppy Remedy” and “Pregnancy Support”.
I order the two products from: www.naturalrearing.com
I have used these two products for 20 years with great success –
no C-sections, no fading puppies.
Always have Breeder’s Edge Oral Cal Plus ready and waiting.
Give after the delivery of each puppy and give it to the mother
after delivery is finished. I order it from Revival Animal Health.
With all this said, if you feed a good quality kibble and don’t
change your regimen during gestation (no supplements or puppy
food), all should go well. Gradually increase food quantity the last
two week before whelping to satisfy gestational needs.