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C-Section for Dogs: Everything You Should Know

C-Section for Dogs: Everything You Should Know

Watching your dog give birth can be an incredible - and emotional - moment for both you and your pet. But what if your dog needs a c-section? Today, our Capitola vets share everything you need to know about c-sections for your dog, including how to prepare and signs of complications to watch for. 

What Natural Labor Looks Like & When to Seek Help

About 64 days after a dog becomes pregnant, her puppies will be born. There are a few signs to watch for that will indicate your dog is in labor. 

When it's time for your dog to give birth, you may notice that she is much more restless than normal. She may also start to nest or paw at her bed to make her surroundings more comfortable. 

Starting about 24 hours before going into active labor, she will have limited to no appetite. She may lick her vulva, have mucus discharge or get sick and vomit. There's no reason to be alarmed - all of these symptoms are normal fo natural labor and are not signs to be concerned about. 

Signs of Complications During Labor 

Typically, your dog will be able to give birth at home with little to no help from you. However, serious complications can sometimes arise and you'll need to bring your dog in to see our Capitola vets. If you see any of these signs, your dog will need extra help from you and the vet:

  • Pushing for extended periods (more than 45 to 60 minutes) without producing puppies 
  • Contractions lasting longer than 45 minutes before the first puppy is born 
  • Extreme fatigue or pain accompanied by vomiting in the mother dog
  • Excess bloody discharge 

It's possible for puppies to become stuck in the birth canal and obstruct other puppies from being born. While the amount of time between each puppy's birth will vary, this period should not extend past 4 hours.

At Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital, we offer a range of reproductive services, including planned and emergency c-sections, to help you and your dog produce and maintain the healthiest possible litter. 

If time between the birth of puppies stretches past 4 hours, your dog will require a c-section. We recommend heading to our Capitola veterinary hospital as soon as possible. 

When are Elective C-Sections Recommended?

While dogs normally have healthy pregnancies and births, in some cases your veterinarian may recommend an elective c-section. Your dog may require a scheduled c-section if:

  • She is only having one puppy (the mother dog may not produce enough cortisol to induce natural labor)
  • Puppies are larger than average
  • Your dog has any health conditions that could impact natural labor

If your dog needs a c-section, it should be scheduled 63 days from her ovulation, or 24 hours before her natural 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 breeds 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.
  • 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 bathe her after the surgery.
  • Do not feed your dog on the day of the c-section.
  • If your dog is taking any medications, speak with your veterinarian before the c-section for instructions on how to proceed. 
  • Give your dog only water to drink 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 cellphone and cellphone 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 to the puppies' home afterward

What Happens on the Day of the Surgery? 

When you take your dog to the vet’s office the staff will be ready to start and your dog will be taken in for surgery. 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 Will My Dog's C-Section Cost?

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 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. 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 further complications after your dog's c-section. If you do notice any concerning symptoms following the procedure, contact your veterinarian. 

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 suspect your dog is pregnant, or in labor and may need a c-section? Contact our Capitola vets today.

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Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Capitola companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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