Most dogs go through pregnancy, labor, and delivery smoothly, but some might need surgical help to ensure a safe puppy delivery. Today, our Pittsboro vets talk about pregnancy and delivery for dogs and signs that a dog may need a c-section.
What To Expect During a Dog's Pregnancy
Dogs are only pregnant for 63 days, and if your pup needs a c-section, there will be a sense of urgency as the only safe time to perform a c-section for dogs is between 61 and 65 days after they have ovulated.
When puppies are ready to be born naturally, they will produce a surge of cortisol, which initiates labor in the mother.
Below are the things to expect during routine labor and delivery in dogs and what the signs are that your dog may require a c-section, as well as what to expect during and after c-section surgery.
Natural Labor in Dogs & Signs That Your Dog May Require Urgent Care
Your dog will go through three natural stages during labor. Keep a close eye on your dog for any signs of problems because issues can happen at any time during labor and delivery.
Stage 1 of Labor
- Stage 1 of your dog's labor can take 6 to 12 hours. During this time, your dog may act anxious, shiver, or pant. Once your dog's cervix has dilated enough, their body will naturally move into stage two of labor, and the puppies will begin to be delivered. If after 12 hours your dog isn't showing any signs of stage 2 labor, call your vet right away, an emergency c-section may be required.
Stage 2 of Labor
- Stage 2 of your dog's labor is the delivery of her puppies. You will notice her straining and having contractions. A puppy should be born within the first 1-2 hours of this stage. If after 2 hours, no puppies have arrived, call your vet or visit the nearest 24/7 animal emergency clinic straight away. After delivering a puppy naturally, she will proceed to Stage 3.
Stage 3 of Labor
- Stage 3 of your dog's labor should begin between 5-15 minutes after a puppy arrives, this is when the placenta is delivered. You should expect discharge along with placenta delivery at this stage.
Repeat the Stages
- If all is going well, your dog will now go back and forth between Stage 2 and Stage 3 as each of the puppies are born.
The time between each puppy's birth varies from dog to dog, but it can be as long as 4 hours. If you know there are more puppies, but it's been over 4 hours since the last one was born, go to the nearest emergency vet immediately. Your dog might need a c-section, and your vet needs to assess the situation fully.
Ways To Tell That Your Dog Needs Help
Here are some of the other more common signs that you should contact your vet to have them seen for a veterinary evaluation and potential c-section:
- Your dog is actively pushing for 30-60 minutes without producing a puppy.
- Weak contractions for 2 hours or more without producing a puppy
- Signs of illness include vomiting, fever, pain, and bloody discharge.
If your dog is in labor and displays any of the symptoms above, take her to your vet or emergency vet immediately.
When Your Vet May Recommend an Elective C Section
While there are many dogs that deliver their puppies without any issues, there are certain situations where your vet may recommend an elective c-section. Your dog may need a scheduled c-section if:
- There is only one puppy - that may not produce enough cortisol to induce labor in the mother
- Puppies are very large
- Your dog suffers from any underlying health conditions
If your dog needs a c-section, it will most likely be scheduled 63 days from ovulation, which should put the procedure within 24 hours of your dog's ideal due date.
Preparing For Your Dog's C-Section
Here are some of the things that you can do to prepare for your dog's section:
- Stop using flea and tick products on your dog 1 week before her c-section
- Apply an Adaptil (DAP) collar 3 days before the scheduled surgery
- Give your dog a bath a day or two before the surgery so that she is as clean as possible at the time of her c-section
- Do not provide food on the day of the surgery
- Speak to your vet about any medications your dog is taking- they will let you know if you should withhold medications on the day of surgery
- Water may be given until you leave for the vet's office
Things You Should Bring When Your Dog Has Their C-Section
There are a number of things that you should take along when it's time to head to the vet for your dog's c-section, including:
- Your charged cell phone
- Tarp, table cloth, or other easy clean covering for your seats or carpets in the car
- Large crate to keep your dog in
- Blankets and towels
- Heating pad and a way to power it - to keep puppies warm
- Plastic laundry basket, ice chest without the lid, or strong cardboard box to carry puppies home in safely
- Bulb syringe and DeeLee mucus trap should be on hand in case your dog gives birth en route to the vet's office
What Will Happen on The Day of The C-Section
Most vets request that you arrive an hour or two before the scheduled c-section surgery. Common procedures leading up to a c-section include:
- Vaginal examination to check for signs of active labor
- Imaging such as X-rays or ultrasound
- Placement of an IV catheter
- Shaving your dog's abdomen
- Blood tests
- Wrapping tail to keep clean
Once all of the pre-op procedures are completed, your dog will be taken to the surgery suite, where she will receive anesthesia, and the c-section will be performed.
Recovery For Your Dog After C-Section Surgery
When you return home, it will be necessary 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.
Following your vet's instructions carefully can help you spot any issues right away before they become more severe.
When You Should Bring Your Dog or Their Puppies in For Urgent Care
The time it takes for your dog to recover from her c-section surgery can vary. It depends on her overall health, any pregnancy complications, and other factors. Typically, most dogs heal completely on their own in around 3 weeks after the surgery.
If your dog shows signs of fever, stops eating, isn't drinking, develops a swollen mammary gland, or shows signs of infection at the incision site, it's time for an urgent call to your vet.
Also, contact your vet if the puppies aren't nursing well, seem fussy, have dark-colored urine, or aren't gaining weight.
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.