It's always an exciting experience when your dog is expecting puppies, but sometimes it is ideal for your pet to have a c-section which may seem overwhelming. Today, our Vienna vets discuss everything you should know regarding c-sections for dogs.
What Natural Labor Looks Like & When to Seek Emergency Care
So it's been about 64 days since your dog got pregnant and now it's 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.
Signs of Complications
Most times your dog can give birth at home with little to no help from you, but sometimes complications arise and your will need to bring your dog to the vet. 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 first thing you should be aware of is if she has been pushing for extended periods. 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 access 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.
The amount of time between each puppy will vary but it can last as long as 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, it is time to go to see your vet as soon as possible.
When Elective C-Sections Are 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.
Preparing 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/ 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 surgery. This bag should include:
- A tarp/towel for your car seat
- Blankets and towels for comfort and cleaning
- Your dog's crate
- A heating pad for the puppies
- A basket or box for the puppies
- Your cellphone
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.
A Dog's Recovery From a C-Section
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.