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C-Sections for Dogs

C-Sections for Dogs

If a dog is in labor, an emergency c-section can be performed. However, if your furry friend is at a higher risk of complications, an elective c-section may be recommended. Today, our veterinarians at Mount Vernon will discuss how to determine if your dog requires a c-section.

Your Dog's Pregnancy

Did you know that dogs are pregnant for only 63 days? Interestingly, there is only a narrow four-day window between days 61 and 65 after ovulation (not after breeding) when it is safe to perform an elective c-section.

Once the puppies are ready to be born, they produce a surge of cortisol which initiates labor in the mother. This is a natural process that ensures the safety of both the mother and her puppies.

What Natural Labor Looks Like & When To Seek Emergency Help

Your dog's labor will occur in three natural stages. It's important to be aware of warning signs of potential problems that can occur during any of these stages.

Stage 1
  • During the first stage of your dog's labor, which can last between 6 to 12 hours, you may notice behavioral changes such as shivering, panting, or signs of anxiety. Once the cervix is dilated, your dog's labor will move on to stage 2. If your dog has not progressed to stage 2 after 12 hours, it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately. They may need to perform an emergency c-section.
Stage 2 
  • The birth of your dog's puppies is the second stage of her labor. You will notice her contract and strain. A puppy should be born within the first 1-2 hours of this stage. If no puppies have arrived after 2 hours, contact your veterinarian immediately or go to the nearest 24-hour animal emergency clinic. Your dog may need an emergency c-section. If your dog has a normal birth, she will proceed to stage 3.
Stage 3 
  • The placenta is delivered during Stage 3 of your dog's labor, which should begin 5-15 minutes after the puppy arrives. At this point, discharge is normal and should be expected.
  • Assuming everything is progressing smoothly, your dog should alternate between Stage 2 and Stage 3 as each puppy is delivered.

The length of time between each birth can differ for dogs, and it may last up to four hours. If you're aware that there are additional puppies, but it's been more than four hours since the last one was born, it's essential to seek immediate care from your nearest emergency vet. Your dog may need a c-section.

Other Signs That Your Dog Is In Trouble

Here are some signs to look out for that could suggest your dog is experiencing trouble delivering her puppies and requires immediate veterinary attention.

  • Your dog is actively pushing for 30-60 minutes without producing a puppy. 
  • Weak contractions for 2 hours or more without producing a puppy
  • Signs of illness include vomiting, fever, pain, and bloody discharge.

If your dog is in labor and displays any of the symptoms above, take her to your vet or emergency vet immediately.

When Elective C-Sections Are Recommended

While many healthy pregnancies in dogs can proceed unaided, an elective c-section may be recommended in some circumstances. Your dog may need a scheduled c-section if:

  • There is only one puppy - that may not produce enough cortisol to induce labor in the mother
  • Puppies are very large
  • Your dog suffers from any underlying health conditions 

If your dog needs a c-section, it will most likely be scheduled 63 days from ovulation which should put the procedure within 24 hours of your dog's ideal due date. Please consult your veterinarian on the cost of your dog's c-section for a more accurate estimate.

Have you ever wondered how many c-sections a dog can have? As a general rule, it is recommended that a dog should have no more than two to three c-sections. This ensures the well-being of the mother and any future puppies. It's important to prioritize their quality of life.

How To Prepare for Your Dog's C-Section

Before your pup's c-section, there are several preparations you can make.

  • Stop using flea and tick products on your dog 1 week before her c-section
  • Apply an Adaptil (DAP) collar 3 days before the scheduled surgery
  • Give your dog a bath a day or two before the surgery so that she is as clean as possible at the time of her c-section
  • Do not provide food on the day of the surgery
  • Discuss any medications your dog is taking with your veterinarian; they will let you know if you should withhold medicines on the day of surgery.
  • Water may be given until you leave for the vet's office

What to Take Along to Your Vet's Office

When it comes time for your dog's c-section, there are a few things you should bring with you, including:

  • Your changed cell phone
  • Tarp, table cloth, or other easy clean covering for your seats or carpets in the car
  • Large crate to keep your dog in
  • Blankets and towels 
  • Heating pad and a way to power it - to keep puppies warm
  • Plastic laundry basket, ice chest without the lid, or strong cardboard box to carry puppies home in safely
  • A bulb syringe and DeeLee mucus trap should be on hand in case your dog gives birth en route to the vet's office

What to Expect On Surgery Day

Most veterinarians ask that you arrive an hour or two before your scheduled c-section surgery. The following are common procedures preceding a c-section:

  • Vaginal examination to check for signs of active labor
  • Imaging such as X-rays or ultrasound
  • Placement of an IV catheter
  • Shaving your dog's abdomen
  • Blood tests
  • Wrapping tail to keep clean 

Once all of the pre-op procedures are completed, your dog will be taken to the surgery suite, where she will receive anesthesia, and the c-section will be performed.

After Your Dog's C-Section Surgery

After coming home, it's important to be attentive to your dog and her puppies. Your vet will guide you on how to care for and observe the puppies and the mother. Additionally, they will prescribe pain medications for your dog if necessary.

Following your vet's instructions carefully can help you spot any issues immediately before they become more severe. Contact your vet immediately if there are complications after your dog's c-section.

When To Call The Vet

The time it takes your dog to recover from her c-section will be determined by her overall health, pregnancy complications, and other factors. The majority of dogs will recover completely within three weeks.

If your dog displays symptoms of a fever, loss of appetite, dehydration, a swollen mammary gland, or any signs of infection at the incision site, it's crucial to contact your veterinarian immediately.

If the puppies are not nursing well, appear fussy, have dark-colored urine, or are not gaining weight, it is important to contact your veterinarian.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog pregnant? Contact our Mount Vernon vets to schedule an examination.

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Northwest Veterinary Clinic of Mount Vernon is accepting new patients! Our vets are passionate about the health of Mount Vernon cats, dogs, and horses. Get in touch today to book your animal's first appointment.

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