C-Sections in Pets: What to Expect and How to Help Them Recover Fast

Vet C-sections are becoming common for many different breeds of dogs. Statistics show that 70 to 90% of puppies survive C-sections, while 99% of mother dogs fully recover. While there is a risk of bleeding, infection, and damage to the surrounding organs, these risks are low.

That’s why finding a reputable and experienced veterinary surgeon is crucial. Read more about C-sections in dogs, what to expect before, during, and after the surgery, and how to help them recover quickly.

What Is C-Section in Dogs?

A cesarean section (also referred to as a C-section) is a surgical procedure to deliver puppies. It is most commonly performed when the mother dog has difficulty giving birth naturally or if there are complications with the delivery.

The surgery involves making an incision in the mother dog’s abdomen and uterus so the puppies can be delivered safely. C-sections are performed under regional or general anesthesia and last for 45 to 60 minutes.

Vets perform C-sections in dogs due to the following reasons:

  • The mother dog is too small to give birth naturally.
  • The puppies are too large for the mother dog to deliver safely.
  • The puppies are in the breech (butt first) position.
  • There is a blockage preventing the puppy from descending the birth canal.
  • The umbilical cord is wrapped around the puppy’s neck.
  • The placenta is detaching from the uterus wall prematurely.
  • The mother dog is exhausted from delivery and needs help.

In some cases, C-section is an emergency procedure performed when the mother dog shows signs of distress, such as heavy panting, restlessness, and shaking. If a C-section is not performed in time, the mother dog could die from complications related to childbirth.

Make sure to choose a vet clinic or hospital that provides after-hours services in cases like this, like Kay Animal Hospital.

What to Expect Before a C-Section in Dogs?

Before a cesarean section, the mother dog will need a physical examination and some blood tests to ensure they are healthy enough for surgery. The veterinarian will also discuss the risks and benefits of the surgery with you.

It’s important to fast your dog for 8-12 hours before the surgery to prevent vomiting and aspiration during anesthesia. Water should be available up until the time of the surgery.

In case of an emergency C-section, the mother dog will not have time to fast and will be given anesthesia.

What Happens During a C-Section in Dogs?

During a C-section, the mother dog will be given anesthesia. The type of anesthesia will be determined by the veterinarian based on the dog’s health and the length of the surgery.

The surgeon will make an incision in the dog’s abdomen and uterus to deliver the puppies. The umbilical cords will be cut and tied off, and the puppies will be suctioned out if necessary. After all of the puppies are delivered, the surgeon will close the incisions with stitches or staples.

What to Expect After a C-Section in Dogs?

After a cesarean section, mother dogs usually recover quickly. They are typically able to go home within 24 hours but can stay up to 3 days in the hospital for monitoring.

If they show any of the following signs, they should be seen by a veterinarian immediately:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fever
  • Pale gums
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Incision site swelling or discharge

Helping Your Dog Recover Quickly After a C-Section

There are a few steps you can do to help your dog recover quickly after a cesarean section, including:

  • Provide a quiet, comfortable place for your dog to rest and recover. This could be a crate or a small room with a soft bed.
  • Limit their activity and exercise for at least two weeks to allow the incisions to heal properly.
  • Make sure they stay hydrated by offering them small amounts of water frequently.
  • Feed them small meals of easily digestible food. Gradually increase their food as they start to feel better.
  • Give them any medication that was prescribed by the veterinarian, such as painkillers and antibiotics.
  • Follow the veterinarian’s instructions on when and how to administer the medication.
  • Monitor the incision sites for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. Take your dog to the vet for a check-up 10-14 days after the surgery.


Cesarean sections are a common emergency procedure performed on dogs that are pregnant and experiencing complications during childbirth. The surgery is typically safe and effective, but some risks are involved. Choosing a vet clinic or hospital that provides after-hours services is essential.

Most importantly, when the puppies are old enough for vaccinations, follow the proper schedule to protect them from fatal diseases, such as distemper, parvovirus, etc. Find here more info about pet vaccinations.