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Dog's Cesarean Section Procedure and Costs

Dog's Cesarean Section

Info about a dog's cesarean section procedure and costs is something that dog breeders may be interested in, considering that whelping problems are not uncommon in dogs, especially dogs of certain breeds. On average, the cost of a dog cesarean section performed at the vet may be roughly around 500 to 600 dollars; however, the price may increase dramatically to near $2,000 or more if it's done on an emergency basis in an emergency or veterinary specialty center. Of course, costs vary from one place and another. What happens though during a dog's cesarean section procedure? Following is some information about a dog's cesarean section by veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec.

mother dog

Cesarean Section Versus Natural Birth

In a truly caring environment, owners and breeders can ensure healthy and natural births. We can ensure this most easily by feeding nourishing food, avoiding chemicals (including unknown herbs), and minimizing the risk of disease during pregnancy.

We can also help by selectively breeding not for the smallest-sized progeny or for the largest litters, but for ease of birth and litter sizes that mothers are able to feed and care for naturally.

In dogs with average anatomy, birth is uncomplicated. However, selective breeding, has led to physical and mental alterations that can potentially complicate the birth. For example, if your female dog was mated with a larger male, she might have difficulties passing the pups through her birth canal.

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In very small breeds, due to the size of their pelvic canal, pups must often be delivered by Caesarean section. In addition, some dogs become very distressed when in labor and virtually stop contracting, wanting to be on a lap rather than in the whelping pen. This is mainly due to the fact that selective breeding has accelerated puberty in dogs. As a result, females may be physically, but not emotionally prepared to be good mothers.

A Dog's Cesarean Section Procedure

 A dog's cesarean section procedure requires anesthesia.

A dog's cesarean section procedure requires anesthesia.

First of all, we need to make it clear that caesarean sections, also known as C-sections, are not considered routine procedures. A caesarean section is performed on an emergency basis, when the labor is either lasting too long or is absent/unsuccessful.

During a caesarean section or C-section, the womb is opened, the pups removed, and then the womb is sewn shut. The procedure is common and it is the treatment of choice for difficult labor where pups cannot or will not pass through the birth canal.

A routine Caesarean section must take place in a clean environment. Any contamination of the area – for example, from the death and decomposition of a pup – makes the surgery more difficult and exposes the mother to the danger of infection

Fortunately, most Caesarean sections are successful and result in high survival rates for both mother and pups. Sometimes the Caesarean section is combined with an ovariohysterectomy (removal of the uterus and ovaries) if the owner does not want future litters from the mother or if the prolonged labor has caused damage to the uterus.

Does a dog's cesarean section procedure affect the mother dog's mothering behavior? This is a good question. Normally, the passage of a pup through the birth canal, and licking the pup just after birth, triggers subtle chemical changes in the mother dog's brain that imprint the pup in her mind. That imprint is crucial for good mothering. If neither event occurs, there is a greater risk that the mother will reject the pup.

dog silent heat

What Dogs Need Cesarean Sections?

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Two of the most common reasons for difficult labor, or dystocia in dogs, have to do with the pups. Simply put, a pup is either too large to pass through the birth canal or is in the wrong position for delivery.

In a nutshell, the female’s litter grows in the two horns of the uterus. At the moment of birth, the position in which the pups present is important to successful delivery. Pups should be delivered head-first in a "diving" position. Backward (back feet and tail first) is also normal, but the elbows may get caught on the pelvic rim.

On the other hand, wrong positions, include: simultaneous presentation of two fetuses (one from each horn of the uterus), breech (backward position but with the hind legs flexed forward), forward but with the head turned to the side, forward but with the front feet flexed backward and back first. The vet may try to rectify some wrong positions with his fingers and/or the use of special delivery forceps. However, if that try is not successful, a dog's caesarean section is indicated.

Furthermore, any small female that is mated to a large dog has an increased risk of a difficult birth requiring a caesarean. Some small dog breeds, particularly toy breeds, such as Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas, almost always require Caesarean sections.

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Breed adaptations have made some types of dogs more prone to birth problems. For example, in breeds like bulldogs, the pups’ heads are often too large to pass through the birth canal.

Generally speaking, breeds with an anatomy that increases the likelihood of cesarean section include: Boston terrier,
English bulldog, French bulldog, mastiff, Scottish terrier, German wirehaired pointer, Pekingese, Dandie Dinmont terrier, Saint Bernard.

When is a Dog's Cesarean Section Procedure Performed?

A portrait of Princess Ekaterina Dmitrievna Golitsyna

Dog cesarean section procedure – to perform or not to perform? The timing often depends on the priorities of the owner. For example, if deliveries are slow and there is a high risk that the pups will die if they do not emerge quickly from the mother, the vet will often ask the owner how important it is to have as many live pups as possible.

If that is a priority, a Caesarean section will be carried out. If, on the other hand, it is low, and there is a greater priority to avoid surgery if possible, then the vet may decide to allow the female more time to regain her strength and give her more medications that will induce contractions.

When deciding to carry out a dog's caesarean section procedure several factors should be evaluated: such as how long the expectant mother has been in labor, what X-rays, ultrasound and finger examination reveal, how well the uterus responds to an oxytocin injection, the overall medical condition of either the mother or the pups, or anatomical peculiarities (in the mother or pup).

In all cases, the pros or the benefits must outweigh the cons or the risks. Regardless of the circumstances, the mother dog's life is always a priority.

About the Author

Dr. Ivana Crnec is a graduate of the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia. She is a certified nutritionist and is certified in HAACP food safety system implementation.

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She currently practices as a veterinarian in Bitola and is completing her postgraduate studies in the Pathology of Domestic Carnivores at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Zagreb, Croatia.

Ivana’s research has been published in international journals, and she regularly attends international veterinary conferences.

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