C-Sections of Dogs and Cats
by Roger Ross DVM

What: C Sections ... also known as a Ceasarean ... is where we surgically remove babies from the uterus.  Usually because the momma dog or cat is having trouble with a normal delivery

When: usually at 2am.  We, of course, do the surgery when ever it needs to be done in hopes of saving the lives of momma and all her pups if possible. 

The advantages: This surgery will often save the life of the momma dog or cat and the babies.  Without this surgery, many dogs and cats die a likely miserable death.

Doing the surgery early enough might save puppies and kittens that would otherwise be born dead.

The disadvantages This is a high risk and expensive surgery.  If we do it too early it may be that if we had just waited a few hours the delivery might have been natural.  On the other hand, wait too long and both the babies and maybe the momma become to weak or toxic to survice the surgery.

Consent Form:  At our clinic we will ask you to sign a consent form.  Anesthesia and surgery is serious business.  A responsible adult will be asked to sign a consent form designed to inform you that of course there are some risks and expenses involved

Here's What To Expect and Consider:

Exam: to evaluate general health and to check for fever, infection, dead fetus', and hydration status.

A vaginal exam in those pets large enough. 

An attempt to determine if the cervix is dilated.

Oxytocin Injection:  we often try to stimulate contractions in hopes of avoiding a C Section by using combination injections of calcium and oxytocin.

Pre-Anesthetic blood work:  Highly recommended to reduce the risk of anesthetic problems in case of undetected diabetes, immune problems, kidney disease or liver disease:  All these problems can be associated with late pregnancy. 

Radiographs:  Needed if we need to know how many fetus' are present.  It can help us tell if there are dead fetus' present.  If dead babies are present, this tells us we should do the surgery quickly.  Radiographs are often done if the momma dog or cat has already delivered but we suspect that one or more babies may be left inside. 

Hospitalization:  Depends ... may or not be needed

Bathing and parasite control:  only required if your pet is filthy or covered in fleas or ticks.  Having babies can be messy

Pre-anesthetic sedation and pain medications: This is a careful subject because of the sensitivity of the babies.  Our goal is to get the babies out fast before they absorb too much anesthesia, sedation, and pain medications from the mother's blood.

If the fetus' are dead or once the babies are delivered, THEN we can certainly use pain medications.

Anesthesia:  Anesthesia for this procedure is especially tricky.  Late pregnacy is a time when the immune system is suppressed, hormones are running wild, and many C-Section patients are toxic.  We need good anesthesia and muscle relaxation but we also want Momma awake as quickly as possible to nurse.  Luckily we have some great anesthetic agents that can be reversed.

The Surgical Procedure:  I'll keep this description basic;  we open up the abdominal cavity, inspect the uterus for tears, adhesions, and necrosis.  We inspect the abdominal cavity for infection and other problems.

We open up the uterus wall and start extracting puppies or kittens, which our assistants take to clear the airways and stimulate.  Once the babies are out, we take special care to suture up the uterus ... or we can remove the ovaries and uterus to prevent future pregnancies.

In our clinic, there is no extra charge to spay at the same time.  Free or not, consider spaying your pet if it needs a C section.

IV Fluids for the Momma:  This step saves a LOT of lives.  This is a major, major surgery and a lot of fluid is lost.  Doing this surgery without fluids is risky.

Post Op Antibiotics:  May or may not be needed

Vitamin and mineral supplementation:  May or may not be needed.  But pregnancy, surgery, recovery of the reproductive organs, the hormone changes taking place for nursing, and nursing itself are very stressful and demanding on the body.

Discusssion and Instructions for taking care of the surviving kittens and puppies

Recheck if there are any problems.  Sutures out in 10-14 days

On This Page:

Surgery; When your pet needs a C-Section

A short and very interesting history of C Sections ... one of the first successful modern operations being performed by a women pretending to be a man.

On other pages
about surgery:

Our introductory page about surgery

Considerations BEFORE Surgery

Post Op Considerations

Spays (Ovariohysterectomies) in Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets

C Sections

Castration in Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets

Declawing Cats

Ear Cropping


Cancer and Mass Removal

Fracture Repair

Abdominal Surgery

Hernia Surgery

Using the Omentum

Soft Tissue Surgery

Descenting Ferrets, Skunks etc

About the Treatment of Injuries, Abscess', ETC



Home        How we treat different medical problems in pets; What to Expect        FoxNest Hospital       About our No Kill Shelter       
The History of Veterinary Medicine         The Human-Animal Bond    
There is a complete site map at the bottom of this page

Website Directory

Home    The Human-Animal Bond     The History of Veterinary Medicine    About our No Kill Shelter     The FoxNest Veterinary Hospital     

"What To Expect When You Go To The Vet"
if your pet should have a problem with ...

Abscesses, wounds, and injuries

Arthritis, Lameness, Fractures, and Ligament Injuries
To include Femoral Head Removal, Hip Dysplasia, Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries, Panosteitis, Radiographic Demonstrations, Disc Disease, and Bone Surgery

Bladder, Urinary Tract, & Kidney Problems

Blood Diseases, Anemias etc
Strokes, Vascular Diseases, Anemias, DVT, DIC, Blood Parasites, Rat Poison, & Bleeding disorders

Cancer, Masses, Lumps and Bumps

Cardiology  Heart disease in Cats, Cardiac Hypertrophy, Valvular disease, Cardiac Insufficiency, Congestive Heart Failure, Heartworm Disease, and a little history about the milestones in treating heart disease

Cats: general information page and directory of diseases and problems specific to cats including vaccine recommendations, leukemia, feline viral infections, feline upper respiratory disease and cats that just aren't feeling well.

Dentistry and problems of the mouth and throat

Dermatology: Skin problems including allergies, rashes, bacterial infections, and itching. Hair Loss, Yeast Infections, Hormonal Problems


Ear Infections and Other Ear Problems

Eye Problems  and Ophthalmic Diseases

Exotics:  Pocket Pets, Rabbits, Hamsters etc

Fleas, Ticks, and other parasite problems

Heart disease; Cardiac diseases, vascular diseases, stroke, & heartworms

Hormone Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's Disease or Hypercortisolism, Addison's disease or Hypocortisolism, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease

Infectious Diseases  Colds, Distemper, Parvo, Leptospirosis, Bruceellosis, Panleukopenia, Feline AIDS, Leukemia, Hepatitis, Kennel Cough, Ringworm, Rabies, FIP, Canine Herpes, Toxic Shock Syndrome, & More

Intestinal problems: diarrhea, constipation, torsion, indigestion, and gas. Also pancreatitis, vomiting, esophagitis, colitis, parvo and other types of dysentery

Kidney Disease

Liver Diseases     

Metabolic Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's Disease or Hypercortisolism, Addison's disease or Hypocortisolism, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease

Neural Problems and Diseases: Epilepsy, Rabies, Distemper, FIP, Paralysis, Tetanus, Seizures, Disc Disease, Toxoplasmosis & others

Obesity; new information and about Pfizer's new FDA approved treatment


Parasite Problems Fleas, Ticks, Heartworms, Intestinal Worms, Mosquitos, Lice, Mites, and other welfare recipients

Poisons  Snakes, Insects, household chemicals, plants, and foods that might poison your pet

Respiratory Diseases

Senior Pet Page: Geriatric Medicine

Skeletal-Muscular Problems Arthritis, Fractures, ACL, Ligament Injuries, Disc Disease, Pannus, and many other problems of the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments

Skin Problems: allergies, rashes, bacterial infections, and itching. Hair Loss, Yeast Infections, Hormonal Problems

Surgery: Spays, Castrations, Testicle Recipes, Soft Tissue Surgery, Hard Tissue Surgery (Bones), C- Sections, Declawing, Tumor Removal and Cancer Surgery

Wounds, punctures, injuries, and abscesses

Urinary Tract Diseases and Problems

Other Topics on This Site

The Human-Animal Bond

History of Veterinary Medicine; lots of interesting stuff    

Zoonotics: Diseases, worms, and parasites people get from pets.

Lab Tests and what they tell us

Medications/Pharmacy Page

Nutrition & Diets
Includes information about Prescription diets used to treat disease, and a discussion about the pet food industry

Reproduction, breeding, & rearing information
Includes information about feline and canine heat or estrus, breeding, C-Sections, pyometra or Infected Uterus, dystocia, no milk, mastitis, & brucellosis
Also newborn care, undescended testicles, and alternative to spaying and castration

Vaccine and other preventive health recommendations

WildLife Page:  Taking care of baby bunnies, squirrels, and birds.  A very funny story about beavers, and other misc information

Our Dog Page:  a directory of problems of concern in dogs including parvovirus, distemper, canine herpes, and other diseases

Veterinary Pet Insurance

A Short History of

Legend has it that the procedure took its name from the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, allegedly removed from his mother’s womb through a surgical cut.

This is doubtful because Caesar’s mother was alive well into the emperor’s adulthood.

An ancient Roman law stated that a baby must be surgically removed from its mother’s womb if she died in childbirth or just before. But the essence of the law was this: C-sections were reserved for the dead.

For centuries, in fact, the procedure was performed exclusively on the deceased, or on women with little hope of surviving labor. That started to change in the later Middle Ages – although the operation itself generally was a death sentence. In the days before germ theory, doctors operated with unwashed hands. And, believing that the uterus would heal itself, many closed their patients’ abdomens without bothering to stitch their wombs.

The first woman reported to have lived through a C-section was the wife of a 15th century Swiss farmer, Jacob Nufer, who was so distressed by his wife’s prolonged labor that he cut her open and delivered the child. Some scholars doubt the story: Surgery by a farmer with no training, instruments, anesthesia or antiseptics seems an unlikely formula for success.

Eventually, about 300 years later, women began to survive with some regularity.

In the British Empire, the first known successful C-section was performed by Dr. James Barry, an eccentric army doctor who championed humane treatment of women.

This made more sense once Barry died and an undertaker discovered “he” was actually “she.” Barry pretended to be a man to enroll in university and to practice medicine.

French physicians  brought the surgical technique to Louisiana in the 1800s, performing the operation most often on slaves.

C-sections – along with most operations – remained rare and often dreaded in the days before anesthesia, which came along in the mid-1800s. The procedure took off around the turn of the 20th century, when rickets, a skeletal disorder, began to plague malnourished families in crowded cities. The deficiency led to malformed bones, including the pelvis, that could make normal childbirth impossible.

Rickets was eventually linked to vitamin D deficiency and was eliminated in the U.S. via fortified milk.

This page is about C Sections in dogs and cats..  But
C Sections are done in all species.  I assume the picture on the left was taken in Northern Europe in the 1960's.  Notice the heavy muscling of the the cow. 
Dr James Barry... not as he... I mean she ... appears.  
Read the column on your left about the history of C Sections.