By MYRA SAVANT, December 11, 2006:
What I am going to say about calcium is not simply my casual opinion, it is pure scientific fact. Do you all know how dangerous tobacco is? And yet you hear of 90 year old 3 pack a day smokers who live long lives and never get cancer? They are the exception; not the rule.
Breeders who can supplement their bitches with calcium and never run into problems are the exception; not the rule.
Calcium is exactly what I say it is.......and then you have your exceptions.....and the exceptions get very verbal and usually want to challenge the truth of what I am presenting to you.
I even run into breeders who say: "well, yes, I do feed the raw diet and two of my last three deliveries were c-sections, but it wasn't because of the diet. It was because of a big puppy, badly positioned puppy etc."
No, it was because of the calcium levels of your diet. That's why the bitch couldn't push out the big puppy and why her contractions couldn't reposition the sideways puppy or whatever.
Calcium is about muscle contractibility far more than it is about bones and teeth. It causes muscle to be able to contract smoothly and strongly. Oxytocin is about timing. It sets up the timing for the contractions and determines when they start and when they end. It alters the cell wall of the muscle cell to allow calcium to enter the cell and let it cause the cell fiber to contract. They work in tandem as a well-oiled and rehearsed machine.
If you supplement your bitch with calcium while she is gestating, this includes a raw diet with raw bones, puppy kibble, cottage cheese, yogurt, pet tabs or any other source of calcium, you run a high risk of altering the pH of the mother's blood.
If the pH is altered, the hormone secreted by the para-thyroid gland will do a less than 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.
The result will be: inertia, inability to push out a puppy, inability for the uterine muscle to contract appropriately to bring about the repositioning of the puppy for delivery.
Following delivery, the decreased calcium level will cause the mother to be unable to figure out how to mother. She may lick incessantly, bark or growl at her puppies or lie on her tummy refusing to allow them to nurse. A few days into the postpartum time, she may go into eclampsia, which is a seizure disorder caused by low calcium levels.
AGAIN......these problems generally stem from the calcium that is fed to the mother while she is gestating.
If you never supplement but feed your dog a good quality, mid-priced kibble designed for all adult dogs (not puppies or gestating moms) and you do not supplement with anything, chances are very, very good that your mom's ability to pull out calcium from her bones for those times when she needs extra calcium for uterine contractions, parenting skills and production of milk.....will be intact. In other words, it is when we tamper that we run into problems. Give not a shred of extra calcium to the gestating bitch.
Keep Calsorb on hand to use during whelping to encourage stronger contractions, Give it generously to the brand new mom and you will see her parenting skills return to her within 15 minutes or so, and keep it on top of the puppy pen in case your bitch goes into eclampsia.
However.....if you simply never tamper with the calcium intake, chances are good you'll never need to supplement it at all. If you don't tamper, the parathyroid gland and its hormone will provide the extra calcium at those times when it is needed.
Just don't tamper.....no cottage cheese, nothing extra with calcium.
You can still feed a RAW diet to your gestating Mom, but follow the guidelines and replace the chicken necks and backs with more organ meat and tripe during pregnancy. In other words reduce the amount of calcium she is getting in her diet so as not to confuse the parathyroid gland and cause your bitch to experience uterine inertia.