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? Here, our Ruckersville vets discuss the signs of complications during birthing to preparing for your dog's C-section.

What Natural Labor Looks Like & When To Seek Emergency Help

After approximately 64 days of pregnancy, your dog will be ready to have her puppies. There are a few signs that can indicate she's in labor. When it's time for her to give birth, you might notice that she becomes more restless than usual and starts pawing at her bed to create a nest.

Around 24 hours before active labor begins, her appetite will decrease or disappear completely. She might also experience sickness, including vomiting or mucus discharge. Additionally, she may start licking her vulva. All of these things are normal during a natural labor process and shouldn't cause any worry.

Signs of Complications 

Sometimes complications can arise during your dog's labor, although most of the time they can give birth at home without much assistance from you. However, if your dog starts experiencing difficulties during labor, it's important to promptly take her to a veterinarian. There are specific signs to look out for when your dog enters active labor to determine if she needs help.

One important sign to watch for is prolonged pushing. While pushing can take time, it shouldn't exceed 45 to 60 minutes for each puppy. Additionally, contractions should not last longer than 45 minutes before the arrival of the first puppy.

If your dog shows signs of extreme pain or fatigue, vomits, or has excessive bloody discharge, it is recommended to seek medical attention as the puppy may be stuck in the birth canal, obstructing the delivery of their siblings.

The time interval between each puppy's birth may vary, with a maximum duration of around 4 hours. If you know, see, or feel that there are more puppies, but it has been over 4 hours since the last one was born, it's crucial to take 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 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,
  • 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.

Is your dog pregnant? Do you have questions about caring for a pregnant dog or the labor process? Don't hesitate to contact our Ruckersville veterinarians today!