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:

Home:Animal Pet Doctor

Before Surgery     

After Surgery   

Soft Tissue Surgery
Fracture Surgery


The Omentum in Surgery   

Cancer Surgery   

Hernia Surgery 

Abdominal Surgery
Pharmacy: about the medicines used in veterinary medicine

Surgical Specialists and Referral Veterinarians

History of Veterinary Medicine in the United States

All the important stuff I know about fleas


Denistry: why oral hygiene and health is so important and what you can do about it

Dermatology: How I treat skin diseases in pets

Orthopedics: How I treat arthritis, pannus, hip dysplasia, and other problems of the bones and joints

Ear problems and the miracle treatment Zymox

Ophthalmology: Eye Problems discussed

Diseases of the blood

Metabolic Diseases like Diabetes, Cushings Disease, Addison's Disease, and Thyroid Disease

Cardiology: Heart problems in cats and dogs

Our pages devoted to Cats

Our pages devoted to Dogs

For a complete list of contents, please go to our home page at AnimalPetDoctor.com

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.


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