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How to Use Calcium at Whelping

Calcium is essential for effective uterine contractions in dogs during whelping. Low calcium levels in the blood can result in weak contractions and nervousness, which can lead to puppy loss. However, giving calcium supplements before whelping can interfere with the dog's ability to regulate the calcium needed for whelping and milk production. It's best to avoid calcium supplements before whelping to allow the dog's body to prepare naturally.

Should You Give a Whelping Dog Calcium?

Yes, once labor begins, calcium supplementation is beneficial. Fast-absorbing calcium helps maintain blood calcium levels during whelping. This can be administered through oral calcium gel or injectable calcium gluconate. For dogs with a history of calcium issues or high risk of eclampsia, careful management is crucial. Start with oral calcium gel or injectable calcium gluconate when labor begins and repeat every six hours if there are signs of ineffective labor, nervousness, or muscle twitching.

Can You Give a Whelping Dog Too Much Calcium?

While it is possible to give too much calcium, it is difficult to do so, especially when given short term during lactation. When dosing calcium, consider the amount, form, and levels of magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin D3 in the supplement. Injectable calcium gluconate 10% is recommended for its fast action. High concentrations of calcium injectables should be avoided.

It is not recommended to use calcium supplements during pregnancy. Start supplementation only at the onset of labor. Pre-labor calcium supplementation can hinder the dog's ability to mobilize calcium from her bones, causing more harm.

At the first sign of labor, start oral calcium gel. Large dogs can receive 2 cc, and small dogs can receive 1 cc, repeating the dose after the delivery of each puppy.

Can I Give Calcium to My Dog After Giving Birth?

Yes, high-risk mothers and heavy milkers should continue calcium supplementation until weaning. Calcium supplements with both calcium and phosphorus ensure effective absorption. Giving only calcium can decrease absorption.

After all puppies and placentas are delivered, switch to oral calcium powder or tablets to support the dog during lactation. Small females with large litters particularly need supplementation to avoid eclampsia, a life-threatening condition. Continue supplementation until the puppies are weaned.

Oral calcium gluconate or calcium carbonate can be administered at 10 to 30 mg/kg three times daily. For a 60-pound dog, this would be 300 to 900 mg every eight hours as a maintenance dose. Over-supplementation can cause gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, and potentially constipation.


Proper calcium supplementation during labor and lactation is essential for the health of both the mother and her puppies. If you have more questions on calcium for pregnant dogs, call us at We have the experience and knowledge to help you manage and prevent pet care challenges.

How to Use Calcium at Whelping
How to Use Calcium at Whelping


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