At our Western Carolina Regional Animal Hospital & Veterinary Emergency Hospital, we perform both emergency and scheduled C-sections for Flat Rock and Hendersonville cats and dogs.
What is a C-Section?
During a C-section (caesarean), puppies or kittens are removed from the uterus of a dog or cat. This is classified as a major surgery.
C-sections are performed in emergency cases in which an animal has a problem giving birth naturally.
Animals usually recover quickly, without experiencing complications from this procedure.
Preparing for a C-Section
You may want to bathe your pet a day or two before her surgery if this can be done safely, since it may be some time before you can do so again. This means she will be nice and clean for surgery, and for taking care of her new puppies or kittens.
She may eat the night before, but not on the morning of her surgery. You may also give her water on the day of the surgery until it is time for your appointment with the vet. If mom is taking any medications, she can take these the morning of her surgery, with just enough canned food or cheese to coat the tablet. Do not use topical flea and tick products on her within a week of her due date.
Your vet will provide specific instructions for pre-operation well in advance.
- Why does my pet need a c-section?
In cats and dogs, C-sections are usually done in emergency scenarios, where an animal has been laboring for too long.
- Are there any risks associated with c-sections?
It's rare for pets to experience complications during a C-section, but there are risks with any procedure, Caesarean sections included. Potential complications of C-section include:
- Post-operative hemorrhaging
- Pyometra: Uterine infection
- Anesthetic death
- What can I expect during the immediate recovery period?
After the surgery, anesthetic should wear off quickly. Most dogs and cats fully recover from anesthesia by the time they leave to go home. It may take them 2 to 6 hours to completely recover from the anesthesia.
During this recovery period, closely watch over your pet so that she does not inadvertently fall and hurt herself, or roll over on top of her newborn puppies. Prior to leaving her alone with the kittens or puppies, ensure that she is completely alert and awake, has taken interest in caring for her babies, and is able to stand on her own.
Mom should begin eating within a few hours of coming home. Offer only small amounts of food and water frequently (every 15 to 30 minutes) for the first 24 hours following surgery. Should she eat or drink too quickly, she may vomit.
A dog or cat will require a lot of food during their nursing period. For those first few weeks, she needs about one-and-a-half times her normal amount. By the time she's been nursing for 3 or 4 weeks, she may eat up to 2 to 3 times her regular amount. Feed her a high-quality premium food while she nurses in order to give her and her litter enough nutrition.
Home Care After a C-Section
The new mother – and her puppies or kittens – will need to be monitored constantly for the first 24 hours after surgery to ensure the safety of the babies.
This will require you to stay up overnight and place the puppies or kittens on the teats of the new mom to ensure that they feed, and that the mother's natural hormones are activated to allow her mothering instincts to kick in.
Make sure the environment mom and babies are in is warm and dry. You'll need plenty of towels and a safe source of warmth. Towels should be replaced regularly if they become wet.
New mothers require lots of fluids, and potentially up to 3 times their regular dietary intake to produce the milk their new babies will need. Keep abundant food and water always available.
Closely monitor the mother's surgical wound. Keep an eye out for signs of infection such as redness or swelling, and ensure the area stays clean to avoid infection.
Keep their bed clean to reduce risk of infection, and check umbilical chords to confirm that they are clean and not swollen.