Reasons for caesarean section
Caesarean section may be necessary in animals under the following circumstances:
- The foetuses are too big to pass through the birth canal (this is often the case when only one or two puppies are in the womb, prolonged pregnancy, if the sire was very big or in the case of short-nosed breeds, e.g. pug, French bulldog etc.).
- The bony birth canal is too narrow (this can occur, for example, when the mother has had a pelvic fracture).
- Rotation of the womb (torsion of the uterus) and resulting obstruction of the birth canal.
- The foetuses have deformities that prevent normal passage.
- Labour is arrested (contractions are too weak or stop completely) and this cannot be reversed with drugs.
- The mother is very weak (e.g., due to birth taking too long).
- The young are weak.
- The foetuses have died.
This list is not exhaustive and there are various other possibilities behind these points when they are looked at in detail.
How is caesarean section done in animals?
If the obstetric problem cannot be solved otherwise, the veterinary surgeon decides on caesarean section. For this, the mother is placed under a mild general anaesthetic.
If the dog is still awake, a venous line and infusion are set up and the belly is shaved in preparation.
When the dog is securely anaesthetised, the vet will open her belly with an incision to reach the womb (uterus). This is also opened, and the puppies are removed one after another. The placentas, which have nourished the puppies during the pregnancy, are also removed. In a natural birth, the placentas are expelled spontaneously.
The uterus and abdominal wall are then closed. Since all anaesthetics also reach the puppies in the womb and have a negative effect on their circulation, the vet must act quickly.
The described procedure is also called a “normal”, conservative caesarean section.
The womb and ovaries are removed completely (ovariohysterectomy) when, e.g., all the puppies are definitely dead. In this case, the uterus is not opened at all to prevent spreading germs into the dog’s abdominal cavity. It can also be done at the owner’s request, for instance, if the dog is definitely not to have any more puppies.
What happens with the pups after the caesarean section?
Any amniotic fluid and membranes must first be removed from the pups. Special care is taken to ensure that there is no amniotic fluid in the airways. If necessary, this must be removed by suction. The young animals are then rubbed dry, stabilised and put in a warm bed. The baby puppies may need to be given oxygen.
After caesarean section the mother does not have to be treated with painkillers as she produces endogenous opioids. The operation incision is located at the level of the mothers navel, between the teats. It is therefore important to look after the wound well and keep an eye on it as the puppies can touch it and possibly injure it when drinking.
Does caesarean section in animals have any risks?
The mother can suffer side effects due to the anaesthetic, e.g., vomiting or allergic shock, but this is very rare.
The general anaesthetic can also affect the young animals in the womb. In a few cases, the vet must give certain medications that abolish the action of the anaesthetics.
How much does a caesarean section cost in dogs and other animals?
A blanket answer cannot be given. Just like every other veterinary service, caesarean section is also listed in the fee schedule for veterinary surgeons. The costs vary depending on the animal, the circumstances and additional medical services. Thus, the cost of caesarean section in dogs differs from the cost of a caesarean section in a cat or rabbit. The cost also depends on whether it is necessary for the mother and puppies to stay in the clinic and on when it takes place (at night or at the weekend) and whether it was planned (often in the case of brachycephalic dogs) or done as an emergency. We are happy to provide you with information about the approximate cost in a personal discussion.