Being with your dog when she gives birth can be an unforgettable experience, but what if she needs a c-section? Our Long Island veterinarians discuss signs of complications during birthing and how to prepare for your pup's c-section.
What Natural Labor Looks Like & When to Seek Emergency Help
It will be time for your dog to give birth about 64 days after she becomes pregnant. You might be able to pick up on a few signs that your dog is in labor. When it's time for her to give birth, you may notice her becoming increasingly restless than she would normally be. She may also start to paw at her bed to make a nest.
Her appetite will be practically non-existent for about 24 hours before going into active labor. Your four-legged companion may also begin to get sick and potentially vomit. You may notice some mucus discharge. She may also start to lick her vulva.
All of these things are normal during natural labor and are not signs to be concerned about.
Signs of Complications
Though your dog may be able to give birth at home most of the time, in most circumstances (with little to no help from you), complications may sometimes arise. If your dog starts to struggle during labor, you'll need to bring her to a vet as quickly as possible, as this is a veterinary emergency.
To find out whether she needs help from you and your vet, you can check for some specific signs when your dog enters active labor.
The first thing to know is whether she's been pushing for extended periods. While pushing can take time, it should not take your dog more than 45 to 60 minutes to deliver each puppy. Contractions should not last more than 45 minutes before the first puppy emerges.
If your dog is displaying signs of extreme fatigue or pain, excess bloody discharge, and vomiting, medical attention is recommended because the puppy may be stuck in the birth canal, blocking their siblings from being delivered as well.
You may need to wait as long as four hours between each puppy's birth. If you know, can see, or feel that there are more puppies to come but it has been more than four hours since the last puppy was born, it's time to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
When are elective c-sections recommended?
While it's very common for dogs to have health pregnancies that go unassisted, in some cases, your vet may recommend an elective canine c-section. Your dog may need a scheduled c-section if:
- She is only having one puppy. If there is only one puppy, your dog's body may not produce enough cortisol to induce natural labor;
- Puppies are larger than average and may not fit through the birth canal;
- Your dog suffers from pre-existing health conditions that may affect labor
If your dog requires 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?
There is no set-in-stone answer to this question, but many veterinarians believe that a dog should not have more than two or three c-sections in a lifetime. Having more than three of these procedures may affect your dog's health and that of 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.