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Dog C-Section - Recovery Time, Wound Care & Complications

After your dog's C-section, it can be easy to focus on the puppies, but mom will also need a little extra TLC to recover well. Today, we provide information on post-C-section care, complications to watch for and what to expect from your dog's C-section recovery.

Dog C-Section After Care Instructions

A C-section is major abdominal surgery and your dog is going to need diligent care, time and a little extra love to help her recover as quickly as possible without complications. 

Your veterinarian will provide specific instructions for your dog's post-surgical care. Be sure to closely follow those instructions and contact your vet immediately if anything gives you cause for concern.

If you are preparing for your dog to go in for a C-section, the guidelines below can help to give you a basic idea of what your vet may recommend for your pup's post-operative care.

Dog C-Section Recovery

Multiple factors will play a role in how long it will take your pup to recover following a C-section. Each dog will recover at her own pace, but most dogs should reach nearly full recovery by about two weeks. Be patient and stay vigilant.

The Immediate Recovery Period

Mom's Recovery

A general anesthetic is required when dogs undergo a C-section. Your veterinarian may keep your dog in the hospital for four to six hours after the procedure to allow the effects of the anesthetic to wear off. Nausea, poor balance, and lack of energy are common side effects of the anesthetic.

The mother should begin eating within a few hours of surgery, once the effects of the general anesthetic have worn off. Offer her small amounts of food and water every 15 to 30 minutes for the first 24 hours after surgery. Eating or drinking too much too quickly may lead to vomiting. At this time she should only be eating about half of her usual amount. (By the third or fourth week of nursing she will be eating almost twice her usual amount.)

Your veterinarian will provide you with specific care instructions for your dog. These instructions will include anything you need to know about administering prescribed medications. Never give your dog human medications without direct instructions from your veterinarian. Many human medications are toxic for dogs. 

The Mother / Puppy Bond

Immediately following the C-section procedure, your dog will need to be closely monitored to help ensure that she does not fall and hurt herself, or accently roll over and crush her newborn puppies. Do not leave mom alone with the puppies until she is completely awake, able to stand independently, and begins to take an interest in caring for them. 

There is a risk that your dog will reject her puppies. For this reason, it is vital that you carefully supervise the earliest interactions between the mother and her puppies and assist where necessary. You may need to help position the mother to make nursing possible and help the puppies find a teat to latch on to.

After feeding, if mom does not begin to lick her puppies encourage her to do so by holding each one up for her to lick their perineum (bottom). This should stimulate the puppies to defecate and urinate. If mom refuses to lick her puppies you can stimulate evacuation by rubbing the area gently with a tissue coated in lanoline, but be sure to check with your veterinarian before doing so.

If you are unsure whether your dog has formed a bond with her puppies, it may be necessary to remove them for two-hour periods between feedings. While away from mom it will be necessary to keep the puppies safe and warm, ask your veterinarian for guidance on how to care for the newborn puppies.

Note: A bloody vaginal discharge is normal after the birth and may continue for up to a week. If your dog continues to bleed after that period contact your vet.

Dog C-Section Wound Care

Check the incision site twice daily for signs of increased redness, swelling or discharge.

Your veterinarian may recommend cleaning the incision daily to help avoid infection. Follow your vet's instructions closely and avoid the use of harsh soaps or alcohol.

Preventing your dog from licking or biting at the incision site is essential. It may be necessary for her to wear an e-collar (cone) while the incision heals.

If you have any concerns about the health of the incision site, contact your vet immediately.

If your dog has visible stitches, your veterinarian will likely remove them when you take your pup for her follow-up appointment at about ten to fourteen days post-surgery.

Complications After Dog C-Section

Most dogs recover well after a C-section, but complications can arise. If your dog shows signs of any of the following complications, contact your veterinarian immediately:

Infection of Incision Site - Symptoms include redness, swelling, discharge, fever, lack of energy and lack of appetite.

Hemorrhage - This is a very serious complication that, while rare, requires urgent care. Signs include persistent bleeding from the incision, pale gums, weakness and collapse.

Seroma or Hematoma - Signs include swelling, firmness and fluid leakage near the incision.

Incision Dehiscence - This is a fancy name for when the incision reopens. Look for signs of separation around the edges of the incision site or bleeding.

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.

Our team at Belle Forest Animal Hospital can help your dog to recover well after her C-section. Contact our Nashville vets today to book an examination for your cherished pup.

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