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C-Section for Dogs: Everything You Should Know

Experiencing your dog giving birth can be incredible, but what if she requires a C-section? Today, our Lincoln vets will discuss signs of complications during birthing and guide you in preparing for your pup's c-section.

What Natural Labor Looks Like & When To Seek Emergency Help

Your dog will enter labor approximately 64 days after becoming pregnant. Signs indicating her impending labor include increased restlessness and nest-making initiation by pawing at her bed.

During the birthing process, you will observe a significant decrease in her appetite, ranging from limited to non-existent, for about 24 hours prior to active labor. Other signs include possible vomiting, mucus discharge, and licking of her vulva. It's important to note that all these occurrences are normal during natural labor and should not cause concern.

Signs of Complications 

While your dog can often give birth at home with minimal assistance, complications may arise. If your dog begins to struggle during labor, you should promptly take her to a vet. To assess whether she requires assistance from you and the vet, watch for specific signs when your dog enters active labor.

Firstly, be attentive to whether she has been pushing for extended periods. Although moving can take time, it should not exceed 45 to 60 minutes for each puppy's delivery. Additionally, contractions should not last more than 45 minutes before the arrival of the first puppy.

If your dog exhibits signs of extreme pain or fatigue, along with vomiting and excessive bloody discharge, seeking medical attention is advisable. These symptoms could indicate that a puppy is stuck in the birth canal, potentially impeding the delivery of its siblings.

The time intervals between each puppy's birth can vary, extending up to 4 hours. If you can see or feel more puppies, and it has been more than 4 hours since the last delivery, it is crucial to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

When Are Elective C-Sections Recommended?

While healthy pregnancies in dogs are very common and generally go unaided, in some cases, an elective C-section may be recommended. Your dog may need a scheduled c-section if:

  • Puppies are larger than average
  • She is only having one puppy. If there is only one puppy, your dog may not produce enough cortisol to induce natural labor
  • Your dog suffers from any health conditions that can affect labor
If your dog needs a c-section, it should be scheduled 63 days from her ovulation, which would put the procedure about 24 hours before your dog's due date.

How many c-sections can a dog have?

When considering the number of c-sections a dog can undergo, there is no fixed answer, but many vets argue that a dog should not undergo more than 2-3 c-sections in a lifetime. Exceeding this limit could potentially impact your dog's health and the well-being of their future puppies.

How to prepare your pet for a C-section? 

There are a few things that you should do leading up to your dog's C-section

  • Stop using flea/ tick medications 1 week before your dog's C-section
  • Apply an Adaptil (DAP) to her collar 3 days before the C-section
  • You'll want to bathe your dog a few days before the c-section (2-3 days). Having your dog as clean as possible for the surgery is better. Also, it could be a while before you can bath her after the surgery
  • Your dog can not eat on the day of the c-section
  • If your dog takes any medications, you must speak with your veterinarian before the c-section for instructions on how to proceed.
  • Your dog should only have water before the c-section

What to bring to the surgery? 

You will need to prepare a doggy "go-bag" before you take your dog for her c-section. This bag should include;

  • Your cell phone and charger
  • A tarp to put down on your car seat for the drive to the vet's office
  • Blankets and towels, both for comfort and cleaning
  • Your dog's crate
  • A heating pad for the puppies
  • A basket or box to carry the puppies home afterward

What happens on the day of the surgery? 

When taking your dog to the vet's office, ensure you call ahead so the staff can prepare for your arrival and promptly initiate the surgery for your dog. Upon entering the surgical suite, the veterinarian will administer general anesthesia to your dog before commencing the c-section.

Following the resuscitation of the puppies, the vet will remove the placentas and attend to the umbilical cords. They will carefully document each puppy's condition upon delivery and address any medical issues observed. Afterward, the puppies will be temporarily placed in an incubator or warming area. Once all the puppies receive clearance, you can take them home.

How much can a dog c-section cost?

The cost of your dog's C-section can change due to several factors, including your dog's size and breed, your dog's age, and if they have any health issues that could cause complications.

What should you expect during the recovery period?

When bringing your dog and the new puppies home, closely monitor your dog and her puppies. Your vet will give you detailed instructions on caring for and watching the puppies and mom, along with any prescribed pain medications for your dog. Follow your vet's instructions meticulously to promptly identify and address any issues, preventing further complications.

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.

At Critter Creek Veterinary Hospital, our Lincoln vets are here to help your dog stay healthy, including during pregnancy and birth. Contact us today to ask questions or book an examination.

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Critter Creek Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of pets in Lincoln and the Greater Sacramento Area. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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