Pregnancy in Dogs: What to Expect
Did you know that pregnancy in dogs only lasts 63 days? This means that if your dog is in need of an elective c-section there will only be 3 days, from day 61 to 65, where one will be able to be performed.
When puppies are ready to be born naturally they will produce a surge of cortisol which initiates labor in the mother.
The Stages of Labor & Signs of Complications
Labor in dogs falls into 3 stages which are then repeated for each puppy. It will be important to know what to expect and the signs of potential complications during this time:
- Stage 1 of your dog's labor can last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours and is distinguished by behavioral changes such as shivering, panting, or other visible signs of anxiety. Your dog's labor will progress to stage 2 once the cervix has been dilated. If your dog is still not showing signs of stage 2 labor after 12 hours, contact your veterinarian immediately; an emergency c-section may be required.
- The second stage of your dog's labor is the birth of her puppies. You will be able to see her contract and strain. A puppy should be born within the first 1-2 hours of this stage. If no puppies have arrived after 2 hours, contact your veterinarian or go to the nearest 24-hour animal emergency clinic right away. Your dog might require an emergency c-section. If your dog gives birth normally, she will proceed to stage 3.
- The placenta is delivered during Stage 3 of your dog's labor, which should begin 5-15 minutes after the puppy arrives. At this point, discharge is normal and should be expected.
Repeat The Steps Above For Each Puppy
- If each puppy is being delivered without issues then your dog will continue between the second and third stages until all puppies are born.
You can expect the time between the birth of each puppy to take up to 4 hours. If it has been more than 4 hours and there are still more puppies on the way, go to your nearest emergency vet for immediate care. Your dog may require a c-section.
Other Signs That Your Dog May Need Emergency Care
Here are some of the other possible signs of complications to watch for when your dog is delivering. If any of these occur then you should bring your dog to the nearest emergency vet as soon as possible:
- 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.
Situations Where Your Vet May Recommend an Elective C-Section
While many dogs can comfortably and safely go on to deliver their puppies, there are some that may need some extra help and 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. Please consult your veterinarian on the cost of your dog's c-section for a more accurate estimate.
If you're curious as to how many c-sections a dog can have, the general rule of thumb is two to three. This is to preserve the mother's quality of life and the quality of life for future puppies.
Preparing For Your Dog's Elective C-Section
When you are expecting to bring your dog in for an elective c-section, there are a few things you can do to prepare and make the process easier:
- 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
- Bath your dog 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
- Discuss any medications your dog is taking with your veterinarian; they will let you know if you should withhold medicines on the day of surgery.
- Water may be given until you leave for the vet's office
What Should You Bring To the C-Section Appointment
When it comes time for your dog's c-section, there are a few things you should bring with you, including:
- Your changed 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
- A 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 When You Arrive
Most veterinarians ask that you arrive an hour or two before your scheduled c-section surgery. The following are common procedures preceding a c-section:
- Vaginal examination to check for signs of active labor
- Diagnostic 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.
Caring For Your Dogs After a C-Section
Be sure to actively monitor both your dog and her puppies once you are back home. Your veterinarian will give you detailed instructions on how to care for and monitor the puppies and mother, as well as any pain medications prescribed for your dog.
Following your vet's instructions carefully can help you to spot any issues right away before they become more severe. If there are complications after your dog's c-section, contact your vet immediately.
Signs That You Should Contact Your Gillette Vet
The length of time it takes for your dog to recover from her c-section will depend on her overall health, pregnancy difficulties, and other factors. Most dogs will recover completely within 3 weeks.
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. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.