Cesarean Section in Dogs

Cesarean Section in Dogs - Conditions Treated, Procedure, Efficacy, Recovery, Cost, Considerations, Prevention
Cesarean Section in Dogs - Conditions Treated, Procedure, Efficacy, Recovery, Cost, Considerations, Prevention
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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.

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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Remi

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Labrador Retriever

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4 Years

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1 found helpful

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1 found helpful

Has Symptoms

None

How long after a c-section should you wait before breeding the bitch again? My vet said back to back would be ok, but I've seen other breeders say you should wait 1 year. It was our first time ever needing a c-section, and was due to a large puppy blocking the birth canal. Looking for additional advice.

March 20, 2018

Remi's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. While the breeding times between a C-section and giving birth isn't actually a physical timeline, nobody recommends breeding on every heat cycle regardless. Remi needs time to recover from having puppies, and make sure her health is adequate. It would make sense to wait until her 2nd heat cycle to breed her after this litter. It would make sense, as well, to pick a smaller sire.

March 21, 2018

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Keira

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Chow Chow

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2 Years

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1 found helpful

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1 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

Our keira(chowchow) had a c-section last monday ... she had 6 pups but 3 already died 😭 now we need to survive the remaining pups. Since we did not know that our chow was pregnant no proper care was given to her. We have hard time in feeding her pups thru bottle milk and our chow dont want to eat either. She become more aggresive that she even bite me. What to do to save the remaining pups and let our chow eat and feel ok again? Please help . . . 😭

Feb. 15, 2018

Keira's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without seeing Keira, I can't determine why she isn't eating, or why the puppies are dying, sadly. She may have some nutritional needs that aren't being met. It would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian again, for a recheck to see what is going on with her and how best to treat her and help the puppies survive. I hope that they are all okay.

Feb. 15, 2018

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