C-Sections For Dogs: What You Need to Know

A dog's pregnancy can be a wonderful heartwarming time, but what happens when things aren't going exactly as planned? Will your dog need a c-section and what can you expect if they do? For the answers to these and other questions about breeding, our vets in Columbia offer more details below.

Labor in Dogs: what does it look like?

The eventual and hopeful result of canine breeding will be a dog's pregnancy and the eventual birth of puppies.

Once it's been around 64 days since your dog got pregnant, it will be time for her to give birth. There are a few things you need to look out for as indications that your dog is in labor.

When it comes time for your dog to give birth, you may notice that she is far more restless than normal and she may start to nest or paw at her bed, making a nest.

She will have limited to no appetite starting about 24 hours before going into active labor. Your dog may start to get sick and vomit and she will have mucus discharge. Your dog may start licking her vulva. All of these things are normal for natural labor and are not signs you need to be concerned about. 

What are the signs of labor complications in dogs?

While many dogs can give birth naturally with no issues, there may be some cases where a little help from your vet will be needed. There are signs to look out for when your dog is in labor, to determine if she needs extra help from you and the vet.

The very first sign will be if your dog has been pushing for longer than what is considered normal. Pushing can take time but it should not take your dog more than 45 - 60 minutes to push out each puppy and contractions should not last more than 45 minutes before the first puppy.

If your dog is showing signs of extreme fatigue or pain, vomiting, and excess bloody discharge then it may be time to seek medical attention because the puppy could be stuck in the birthing canal blocking all other puppies from coming out as well.

While there is no set timeframe between the birth of each puppy you can expect it to typically take no more than 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, then it is time to go to Columbia vets as soon as possible.

When might a planned c-section be recommended?

While healthy pregnancies in dogs are very common and generally go unaided, in some cases an elective C-section may be recommended. Some of the reasons why your vet may schedule your dog in for a c-section are:

  • 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.

Is there a limit to how many c-sections a dog can safely undergo?

When it comes to how many c-sections a dog can have, there is no set answer but many breeds believe that a dog should not have more than 2 - 3 c-sections in a lifetime. If your dog has more than 3 c-sections it could have a detrimental effect on your dog's health as well as the health of their future puppies.

What can you do to prepare your dog for a c-section?

There are a few things that you should do leading up to your dog’s c-section;

  • Stop using flea and tick medication
  • Apply Adaptil to her collar a few days before surgery to help her relax
  • Bathe your dog a few days before her surgery
  • Do not give your dog any food on the day of her c-section (water should be okay but consult your vet as always)
  • Speak with your vet about steps to take with any medication your dog takes

Do you need to bring anything with you to the c-section surgery?

Just as you would for a human birth, you will want to put together a bag of things that will be needed on the day of your dog's c-section surgery. Some of these things may include:

  • Your cellphone and cellphone charger
  • A tarp or blanket for your car seat
  • Blankets and towels, both for comfort and cleaning
  • Your dog's crate
  • A heating pad for the puppies
  • A basket or box to carry to the puppies' home afterward

What can you expect when you arrive for your dog's c-section surgery?

Your dog will go with the veterinary staff upon your arrival at the hospital. 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, and 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 all puppies have arrived and have been cleaned, checked, and released, you can take them home.

What is the cost of c-sections for dogs?

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

What happens once the surgery is complete?

Once you have your dog and her new puppies back home you will want to monitor them closely for any concerning signs. The 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.

Do you have questions about breeding dogs in Columbia or possible c-section planning? Contact our reproductive vets at Maury County Veterinary Hospital.