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What is Cesarean Section?

In dogs, Cesarean sections are not performed routinely. Rarely, they may be booked if a pregnant dog is known to have an abnormally small pelvis, or if other issues have been diagnosed during the pregnancy. If a dog has previously had a Cesarean section and once again is bred, another C-section will be needed. Most often, a Cesarean section is used on an emergency basis if labor is lasting too long. 

X-rays may reveal if any of the puppies have large skulls or if they are in awkward positions. Long labor in dogs is closely linked with death of the pups. Cesarean sections are used to increase survival rates for both the mother and the puppies. As this surgery involves more than one dog, a team of a veterinary surgeon, an anesthesiologist, and a group of nurses are needed to perform the operation.

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Cesarean Section Procedure in Dogs

The vast majority of cesarean sections in dogs are unplanned. The dog has often been in labor for several hours, and is likely to be dehydrated to some degree. Administering fluids and electrolytes intravenously is often the first step in stabilizing the mother for surgery. The vet must also determine if the dog is in shock, and treat her accordingly. General anesthesia is damaging to small puppies, and should be used as sparingly as possible. To assist in this measure, all preparation for the surgery should be done before general anesthesia is given. Medication can be given to calm the animal at this time. 

The lower abdomen can then be shaved and cleaned. Extra care is needed in keeping the site clean, as antibiotics can present further complications in nursing mothers and young puppies. General anesthesia can then be given, with local anesthesia, such as an epidural, also being used to lessen the amount of general anesthesia needed. Everything done from this point onward should be done both as fast and as carefully as possible. 

An incision is made from the bellybutton to the pubis of the dog. Once the abdomen is open, the uterus is brought to the surface. One horn may be pulled up and carefully incised. The hole must be large enough for the pups to be pulled through. The placentas should be gently detached with each pup if possible. The first uterine horn can be placed back in the body, and the process will then repeat with the second uterine horn. Once all puppies are out, the placentas should be counted to ensure none remain in the uterus, as this can lead to infection. Each pup will need to be removed from its sack, and each cord will need to be clamped and then cut. The surgical site will then be sutured shut, with subcuticular stitching so as to not interfere with nursing of the pups. 

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Efficacy of Cesarean Section in Dogs

Cesarean sections result in higher survival rates for both mother and pups than lengthened and difficult labors. There is no other solution to relieve problems in pregnancy. Most Cesarean sections are successful, although rates of puppy survival are lower than mother survival. The procedure is sometimes paired with an ovariohysterectomy if the mother is not to be bred again. 

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Cesarean Section Recovery in Dogs

The mother will need to be closely monitored as anesthesia wears off. As soon as she is deemed stable enough, the puppies should be introduced to her. This promotes the mother's instincts to nurse. They should be discharged once they are stable, to reduce the risk of infection from exposure in the hospital. A prescription for broad spectrum antibiotics should be used sparingly, only if contamination during surgery is suspected.

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Cost of Cesarean Section in Dogs

The cost of performing a cesarean section ranges greatly depending on whether it is done during business hours or not. If it can be completed at a regular veterinary clinic, it can cost as little as $500. If the dog is taken to an animal hospital or emergency clinic, the cost can jump up to $2,000. Both general and local anesthesia may be used, which also adds to the price of the procedure. Two surgical teams are needed, one for the mother and one to receive and or resuscitate the puppies. Medication may be needed post-surgery.

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Dog Cesarean Section Considerations

Anesthesia can cause complications to arise in the mother. The effects of general anesthesia on the puppies are associated with greater risks, and therefore use of gases or injections should be limited. Approximately 70 to 90% of puppies survive a cesarean section, while up to 99% of mothers fully recover from the procedure. Hemorrhage during surgery is a possibility, which may result in the need for oxytocin administration, and in severe cases, an ovariohysterectomy. Hemorrhage may also occur after the operation, which can be more life-threatening. Infection of the uterus or surgical site may follow the procedure. 

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Cesarean Section Prevention in Dogs

Emergency Cesarean sections may be difficult to prevent, as lengthened labor can be hard to predict. Extra measures should be taken while the mother is pregnant to promote her health. She should be fed a high quality diet. She can be taken for check ups throughout the pregnancy to evaluate both her health and the health of the pups. Unhealthy dams should not be bred, as this often results in complicated births. If the dog has had a prior section, it should not be bred.

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Cesarean Section Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Ask a Vet

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French Bulldog

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Pregnant

My dog had a c section and is pregnant again and has a lump on her scar if this normal?

July 15, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without seeing her or being able to see the lump, I'm not sure if it is normal or not. Dogs can get lumps of many kinds, and some are worrisome, but some are okay. If you are concerned, it would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian, as they can look at her and see if the lump is a problem. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 15, 2020

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French Bulldog

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almost 2 years old

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Discharge With Blood

If its a good amount of blood and discharge should we worry shes almost 2 months

July 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, So sorry to hear about your dog. I am not for sure where this discharge is coming from and if there is a lot of it and blood, it would be best to see a vet. There are many different issues that could be causing this discharge depending on where it is coming from. Your vet can examine your dog and start them on medication to help her feel much better. I hope your dog starts to feel better soon.

July 14, 2020

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