While many dogs deliver their puppies without any issues, some may need an elective or emergency C-section to help get all of the new pups out safely. Today, our Fairhaven vets share some information about C-sections for dogs, when they may need one and what to expect.
Pregnancy, Labor & Delivery in Dogs
Did you know that elective c-sections can only be planned for 61 to 65 days after ovulation as this is the only time during their 63-day-long pregnancy when it will be safe to perform the procedure?
when you are expecting a natural birth your dog will experience a sudden increase in cortisol which begins the process of labor.
The Stages of Labor & When a Dog Needs Help
There are three main stages to labor and here we will share what is normal as well as the concerning signs so you know when you should consider reaching out for veterinary assistance.
- Stage 1 of your dog's labor can last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours and is distinguished by behavioral changes such as shivering, panting, or other visible signs of anxiety. Your dog's labor will progress to stage 2 once the cervix has been dilated. If your dog is still not showing signs of stage 2 labor after 12 hours, contact your veterinarian immediately; an emergency c-section may be required.
- The second stage of your dog's labor is the birth of her puppies. You will be able to see 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 or go to the nearest 24-hour animal emergency clinic right away. Your dog might require an emergency c-section. If your dog gives birth normally, she will proceed to 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.
- If all is going well your dog will now go back and forth between Stage 2 and Stage 3 as each of the puppies is born.
You can usually expect there to be a period of 4 hours between each puppy. This means that if your dog has not birthed all of the puppies but it has been more than 4 hours you should bring them to your nearest emergency veterinary clinic right away.
Signs That Your Dog May Need a C-Section
Here are some of the other signs that your dog may be suffering from delivery complications and require emergency care:
- Your dog has been pushing for a half hour and no puppy has been produced.
- Weak contractions for 2 hours or more without producing a puppy
- Your dog has begun to show concerning symptoms such as vomiting, fever, pain, and bloody discharge.
If you note any of the above in your dog during labor or delivery you should contact your emergency vet right away.
Why an Elective C-Section May be Scheduled
Even if the pregnancy has gone well there are still certain situations where your vet will suggest an elective C-section for your dog. 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.
You may also be wondering how many C-sections can a dog have. We typically only recommend two to three at most over the course of a dog's life. This is to preserve the mother's quality of life and the quality of life for future puppies.
The cost of a C-section for dogs can vary greatly an if you have any financial concerns you should speak with your vet for more information and to discuss your options.
What to do Prior to Your Dog's C-Section
Leading up to your pup's c-section there are several things you can do to prepare:
- 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
- Bath your dog 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 You Should Bring to the Procedure
When it comes time for your dog's C-section, there are a few things you should bring with you, including:
- Your charged 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 Happens When its time For the C-Section
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
- Diagnostic imaging such as X-rays or ultrasound
- Placement of an IV catheter
- Shaving your dog's abdomen
- Blood tests
- Wrapping tail to keep clean
At this point, your dog will be brought back to begin the process of the C-section including the administering of anesthesia.
What to Expect After Surgery is Complete
When you get home, you must keep a close eye on your dog and her puppies. Your veterinarian will give you detailed instructions on how to care for and monitor the puppies and mother, as well as any pain medications prescribed for your dog.
Following your vet's instructions carefully can help you to spot any issues right away before they become more severe. If there are complications after your dog's C-section, contact your vet immediately.
Signs of Complications After Dog C-Sections
While recovery from a C-section usually takes around 3 weeks, this time frame can fluctuate depending on a number of factors.
If your dog shows signs of fever, stops eating, isn't drinking, develops a swollen mammary gland, or shows signs of infection at the incision site it's time for an urgent call to your vet.
If you are having any concerns with the puppies such as dark urine, a lack of appetite and if they aren't gaining weight you should reach out to your vet to schedule an examination as soon as possible.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.