One of the many scary things that can happen to a mama dog is eclampsia, what the old-timers called milk fever. Because of the demands from the puppies nursing, she loses calcium at such a rate that she can go into seizures and even die. The early symptoms include panting, pacing, extreme nervousness, shivering...you get the picture. It's most common in small to medium breeds with large litters.
So last Tuesday when Juliet began panting, pacing, being extremely nervous, and shivering, I got scared. She was completely irrational, trying to climb between the whelping box and the wall -- there's about an eight-inch space between them. She was even stepping on her puppies in her frenzy. I've never had a dog with eclampsia, but as a breeder, I live in fear of it (as well as about 100 other things that can go terribly wrong!)
I called the vet in a near panic (eclampsia can be fatal very rapidly) and rushed her to the clinic. As I was getting her out of the car, thunder rolled. We'd had a storm earlier and it had apparently not moved entirely out of the area. Juliet and I entered the vet's office, and as I was describing her symptoms, I suddenly stopped in the middle of a sentence. I pulled out my cell phone and called my daughter Jo. Juliet lived with Jo for the past couple of years and came back to me last fall.
Jo answered with her usual, "Hey, Mama, what's up?"
"Is Juliet, by any chance, thunder-phobic?"
"Oh yes, she's awful. She paces and pants and shivers and tries to climb..."
"Into small spaces?"
Since Juliet had been with Jo in the summers, I'd never had here during storm season. I looked at the receptionist and said, "I think I just rushed Juliet over here for being afraid of thunder."
After she stopped laughing, I added, "Since we are here, why don't we run a calcium level?"
We did, the vet and vet techs had a good laugh at my expense, the calcium level and the rest of her bloodwork was totally normal, and about $120 later, we were home and she was settled back in with the puppies.
Yes, I guess lack of sleep really is getting to me...