If you're owned by a bulldog, you probably know that this adorable, wrinkled breed is prone to numerous health ailments. English bulldogs can suffer from calcium deficiency, also known as hypocalcemia. While too little calcium affects various organs, in the bulldog the most common symptom is uncontrollable shaking.
Calcium, one of the body's most important substances, is responsible for the formation of the teeth and the skeletal system, the pumping of the heart, enzyme and hormone metabolism, blood clotting, milk production and more. Hypocalcemia results when calcium levels fall below the amount necessary for normal body function. When your vet conducts the annual biochemistry profile at your bulldog's well visit, she'll learn whether your dog's body contains sufficient amounts of calcium. Don't feed your bulldog calcium supplements without veterinary approval. Too much calcium in the system can harm the kidneys.
English bulldogs are predisposed to involuntary tremors, according to petMD. Your bulldog's entire body might shake, or the movement could be confined to his head or hind legs. This involuntary shaking can result from hypocalcemia. To diagnose the cause, your vet takes blood and urine samples for testing. If low blood calcium is the cause, your vet can prescribe supplements or recommend dietary changes. Canines affected with involuntary tremors shouldn't undergo strenuous exercise. In bulldogs, that's probably already the case. Your bulldog's not a strenuous-exercise kind of guy.
It's important to keep your bulldog at a healthy weight, although it isn't always easy. His short muzzle makes breathing difficult, so anything more than light exercise is out. He's probably right by your side when you're eating, giving you soulful looks for table scraps. Don't give in—you could be doing him serious harm. Obese dogs are more prone to pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, an organ that aids digestion and produces insulin. The acute version of this disease can result from hypocalcemia. Pancreatitis can prove fatal. Even if your bulldog recovers, he's prone to relapse and will have to be carefully monitored.
During her pregnancy, you might need to supplement calcium in your bulldog so she has sufficient amounts for the growing fetuses. Bulldogs often don't have easy deliveries. Because of the size of the puppies' heads compared to that of the mother's pelvis, a Caesarean section might be necessary. Added to that stress, the mother could suffer from calcium deficiency while nursing her puppies. If she's seriously depleting her calcium to feed the babies, she could develop eclampsia, or milk fever. Signs of this veterinary emergency include fever, disorientation, wobbly gait, rapid breathing and seizures. While your vet can save your bulldog by giving her intravenous calcium, you'll probably have to bottle-feed the puppies until weaning.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.