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C-Section for Dogs: Everything You Should Know

Being there as your dog gives birth can be an incredible experience, but what if she needs a c-section? Today our Tracy vets discuss the signs of complications during birthing to preparing for your pup's c-section.

What Natural Labor Looks Like & When To Seek Emergency Help

About 64 days after your dog becomes pregnant, it will be time for her to give birth. A few signs can point to your dog being in labor. When it's time for your dog to give birth, you may notice her becoming far more restless than normal and she may begin to paw at her bed to make a nest. 

Her appetite will be limited to non-existent for about 24 hours before going into active labor. Your dog may start to get sick, possibly vomit or you may notice some mucus discharge. She may also start to lick her vulva. All of these things or normal during a natural labor and are not signs to be concerned about. 

Signs of Complications 

While your dog may be able to give birth at home most of the time (with little to no help from you), complications sometimes arise. If your dog does begin to struggle during labor you'll need to get her to a vet as quickly as possible. To determine if she needs help from you and your vet, there are some specific signs to check for when your dog enters active labor. 

The first thing to beware of is whether she's been pushing for extended periods. Pushing can take time. However, it should not take your dog more than 45 to 60 minutes to deliver each puppy. Contractions should not last more than 45 minutes before the first puppy. 

If your dog is displaying signs of extreme pain or fatigue, vomiting and excess bloody discharge, medical attention is recommended because the puppy may be stuck in the birth canal, blocking their siblings from being delivered as well. 

The amount of time between each puppy's birth will vary, this timeframe can be as long as 4 hours. If you know, can see or feel that there are more puppies but it has been more than 4 hours since the last puppy was born, it's time to get 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 it comes to how many c-sections a dog can have, there is no set answer but many vets believe that a dog should not have more than 2-3 c-sections in a lifetime. Having more than 3 could affect the health of your dog and 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're going to want to bathe your dog a few days before the c-section (2-3 days). It is better to have your dog as clean as possible for the surgery 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 is taking any medications you must speak with your veterinarian before the c-section for instructions on how to proceed with them
  • 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 you take your dog to the vet’s office it's important to call ahead so that the staff will be ready to start as soon as you arrive, and your dog will be taken in for surgery right away. Once in the surgical suite, your dog will be given general anesthesia. Then the vets will start your dog’s c-section.

After the puppies are resuscitated, the vet will remove the placentas, then begin taking care of the umbilical cords, they will take notes on each puppy as they are delivered, and treat any puppies that appear to have medical conditions. The puppies will be moved to an incubator or warming area for a short time. Once the puppies have all been cleared, 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 you take your dog and the new puppies home, you will need to monitor your dog and her puppies carefully. Your vet will provide you with detailed instructions on caring for and monitoring the puppies and mom, as well as any pain medications prescribed for your dog. 

It is important to follow your vet's instructions carefully! They can help you spot any issues right away and prevent any 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 Paws and Claws Veterinary Hospital our Tracy 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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