Being there as your dog gives birth can be an incredible experience, but what if she needs a c-section? Today our Killen vets discuss the signs of complications during birthing to preparing for your pup's c-section.
What Natural Labor Looks Like & When To Seek Emergency Help
After approximately 64 days of pregnancy, your dog will enter the birthing phase. There are a few signs to look out for indicating that your dog is in labor. She may become noticeably more restless than usual and exhibit nesting behavior by pawing at her bed.
About 24 hours before active labor begins, your dog's appetite will diminish or disappear entirely. It's not uncommon for dogs to experience sickness, including occasional vomiting, and there may be some mucus discharge. Additionally, your dog may start licking her vulva. These are all normal occurrences during natural labor and do not typically warrant concern.
Signs of Complications
While most of the time dogs are capable of giving birth at home without assistance, there are occasions when complications arise. If your dog starts to struggle during labor, it's crucial to promptly take her to a veterinarian. There are specific signs to watch for when your dog enters active labor, indicating whether she needs help from you and your vet.
One important factor to observe is whether your dog has been pushing for an extended period. While pushing can take time, it shouldn't exceed 45 to 60 minutes for each puppy to be delivered. Additionally, contractions should not last more than 45 minutes before the birth of the first puppy.
If your dog displays signs of extreme pain or fatigue, vomits excessively, or has an excessive bloody discharge, it is advisable to seek medical attention. These symptoms may indicate that a puppy is stuck in the birth canal, preventing the delivery of their siblings.
The duration between each puppy's birth can vary, potentially taking up to 4 hours. However, if you are aware of, can see, or feel that there are more puppies, and it has been over 4 hours since the last puppy was born, it is important to promptly take your dog to the vet.
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.
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 bring your dog to the veterinarian's office, it's important to call ahead so that the staff can be prepared to assist you promptly. Upon arrival, your dog will be taken directly to the surgical suite for the scheduled c-section procedure under general anesthesia.
During the surgery, the veterinarian will deliver the puppies and ensure they are breathing properly. They will remove the placentas and attend to the umbilical cords. The vet will also make notes on each puppy's condition and provide any necessary medical care for those requiring it. For a brief period, the puppies will be placed in an incubator or warming area to ensure their well-being. Once all the puppies have been assessed and deemed healthy, you will be able to 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.