So your bitch needs a caesarean?

Does your dog require a caesarean? For first-timers, it’s a daunting process—having a caesarean. After undergoing the procedure, I realized there wasn’t much information on the web to prepare for the possibility of your dog needing one. I’d like to share what I experienced and offer some advice.

It can be quite confronting when the vet informs you, during the day 56 x-ray, that the puppies’ heads are too big for a natural birth. Now what? The option is to have a caesarean.

Having been through the experience myself, I’d like to provide you with pointers or advice about what to expect. The first thing I would say is to know your breed; some breeds, like Frenchies, Boston Terriers, and Bulldogs, are well-known for needing c-sections. Dachshunds are not typically known for needing them, but it does happen, so be prepared.

Be ready for frequent visits to the vet and the accompanying bills. People say breeding is easy, but it’s not for everyone. Make sure you have savings because it’s not a cheap hobby.

Ensure you take time off work, starting from your first progesterone test. I made the mistake of thinking I could go to work after the blood test, but they expect you to be available, as she may need surgery that day; it’s very unpredictable.

Find a good vet; I recommend Greenbank Vet Hospital in my area of Brisbane. They are knowledgeable and reproductive specialists.

Due to her size, she is not a small dachshund that would be okay for a natural birth, but that wasn’t the case; it was a surprise. So don’t go by the size of your dog; it’s their pelvis size that matters.

At day 58-59, they start to reverse the progesterone test. It’s a quick blood test, and the result comes back within the hour. The vet can predict from this test when the mum is likely to deliver, and they need to perform the caesarean before she goes into labour. Again, be prepared for sometimes two trips in a day to the vet for a week.

The day comes, and you are taking mum to the vet to deliver her puppies. Unfortunately, they can’t let you in with mum; you just drop your girl off, go and have a coffee or a shopping excursion. The vet will call you when it’s over to come back and look at the litter; your dog will need you and your cuddles.

One significant thing I was not prepared for was the effects of the anaesthetic on the dog. You must be with her all the time until the effects wear off; in my experience, it was about 24-48 hours. The mum is dazed, sore, and not herself; don’t leave the puppies with her and do supervised feeding every 2-4 hours.

The dog comes home with a small dressing on her midline abdomen; there are no sutures to see—they are internal and dissolve. There is no need to go back to the vet for suture removal. Monitor for infection.

Mum will need help latching puppies on after the anaesthetic; it’s a rough first couple of nights, but then it gets better, and by day 3, her mothering instincts kick in, and you can relax.

The experience of a caesarean compared to a natural birth is different. Ask lots of questions and read extensively on the internet.

Trust your dog and let nature take over.