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Please ensure that your pet is either in a travel crate or on a leash before bringing them to their appointment.

C-Sections for Dogs

In case a dog is in labor, emergency c-sections can be performed. However, in certain circumstances where a dog faces a higher risk of complications, an elective c-section may be recommended. Our vets in Jackson will discuss determining if your dog requires a c-section procedure.

Your Dog's Pregnancy

Dogs have a pregnancy period of 63 days, during which a safe elective c-section can only be performed within a four-day window - days 61 to 65 after ovulation (not after breeding). When puppies are ready to be born naturally, they produce a surge of cortisol, which initiates labor in the mother.

What Natural Labor Looks Like & When To Seek Emergency Help

The labor of a dog is divided into three natural stages, and it is crucial to recognize warning signs of problems.

Stage 1
  • During stage 1 of your dog's labor, which can last for 6 to 12 hours, you may notice behavioral changes such as shivering, panting, or visible signs of anxiety. Once the cervix is dilated, your dog's labor will progress to stage 2. It's important to note that if your dog does not show signs of stage 2 labor after 12 hours, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. An emergency canine c-section may be necessary in such cases.
Stage 2 
  • During the second stage of labor, your dog will experience contractions and strain. A puppy should be born within the first 1-2 hours of this stage. If there is no sign of a puppy after 2 hours, it is essential to 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 of labor.
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 go back and forth between Stage 2 and Stage 3 as each puppy is born.

The duration of rest time between each birth can differ from dog to dog, but it can extend up to four hours. If you know that there are more puppies, but it has been more than four hours since the last puppy was born, it is critical to seek immediate care from your nearest emergency vet. Your dog may need a c-section.

Other Signs That Your Dog Is In Trouble

Below are a few more signs to watch for that may indicate that your dog is having difficulties delivering her puppies and needs emergency veterinary care.

  • Your dog actively pushes 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, in some circumstances, an elective c-section may be recommended. 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 requires a c-section, it will typically be scheduled 63 days after ovulation, which should be within 24 hours of your dog's ideal due date. Please consult your veterinarian to obtain a more accurate cost estimate for your dog's c-section.

If you are wondering how many c-sections a dog can have, the general rule of thumb is two to three. This is done to maintain the quality of life for the mother and the future puppies.

How To Prepare for Your Dog's C-Section

Leading up to your pup's c-section, there are a number of 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 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
  • 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

When you arrive home, monitoring your dog and her puppies closely is crucial. Your veterinarian will provide detailed instructions on how to care for and observe both the puppies and mother and any pain medications prescribed for your dog.

By following your vet's directions attentively, you can detect potential problems early on before they escalate into more serious issues. In case of any complications arising after your dog's c-section, you must contact your vet immediately.

When To Call The Vet

The recovery time for your dog after a c-section depends on her overall health, pregnancy complications, and other factors. Typically, most dogs recover fully within three weeks. 

However, if you notice that your dog has a fever, is not eating or drinking, has a swollen mammary gland, or shows signs of infection at the incision site, you should contact your vet urgently.

It is also important to contact your vet if the puppies are not nursing well, appear fussy, have dark-colored urine, or are not gaining weight.

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 Jackson vets to schedule an examination.

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Jackson Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Jackson companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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