C Sections & Pyometra

A caesarean section, or c-section is a major surgery performed to remove puppies/kittens from the uterus. This is most performed as an emergency procedure when there is difficulty with natural birth. Most pets have fully recovered from anaesthesia by the time they leave the clinic. Natural birth, where possible is advised; however, with some breeds such as English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers and Mastiffs it is advisable to prevent any complications associated with natural delivery.

Elective or emergency caesarean section is used for preventing or treating Dystocia (Dystocia is the medical term used to diagnose a difficult birthing experience).

At our practice, we typically schedule C-sections between 58 and 62 days after the first mating to prevent the need for emergency admittance. In most cases, 63 days from ovulation is within 24 hours of the ideal due date. However, without precise progesterone monitoring at the time of breeding, this timing may be off. Early Delivery may also be the case for bitches carrying large litters because of this, we recommend you monitor her the last 48 hours before her surgery to be sure she does not go into labour unattended.

On The Day

Please be advised that NO food or drink is to be consumed on the day of the C-Section. Before starting the C-section, one of our vets will first perform a reverse progesterone test to ensure mom is close to natural labour. When you come in for your Caesarean, we recommend bringing the following items:

  • Blankets
  • Towels
  • Basket or box for the puppies
  • Hot water bottle or heat pad

Post Surgery

What to expect after your pet’s Caesarean section and how to keep her safe and comfortable when she comes home.

Remember: If you have any concerns or questions, contact our emergency clinic or your daytime vet directly.

As your pet has had a general anaesthetic and major abdominal surgery, you’ll likely notice that:

  • She's drowsy but can still walk
  • She has a wound which may be covered by a light dressing
  • She has a bandage on one or more legs, meaning she's received medications through an intravenous drip (These are normally removed shortly after returning home unless instructed otherwise)
  • A small amount of bloody fluid comes from her vagina (which is normal for a pet who’s just given birth)

What to do

  • Let her go to the toilet
  • Settle her down in a quiet, calm area to help reduce anxiety and stress
  • Offer a small meal and ensure access to fresh water
  • Check the wound regularly and make sure your pet doesn’t interfere with the area (we’d usually apply protective collars or shirts after surgery, but we don’t always do this because collars/shirts sometimes prevent newborns from feeding properly)
  • Give her any medications that the vet has prescribed
  • Contact your daytime vet to organise a post-operative check — ideally to take place within 3 days of surgery. External stitches may need to be removed after 10-14 days — the vet will let you know if this is the case
  • Make sure your pet gets their rest — this means no running, jumping or playing until an assessment with the vet / vet nurse at her final post-op check

What not to do

  • Don’t leave the mother alone with her newborns until she’s fully awake, can stand on her own and has shown interest in caring for them
  • Please contact your emergency clinic or your daytime vets if you see any of the following signs;
    • Lethargy
    • Vomiting or diarrhoea
    • Reduced appetite
    • Heavy vaginal bleeding, or smelly/discoloured vaginal discharge
    • Pale gums
    • Discharge from the wound
    • Swelling, redness or pain at the wound

Pyometra

A pyometra is an infection inside the womb. Any unneutered dog is at risk of developing a pyometra, especially if they are over six years old. Hormonal changes during a season/heat put your dog at risk of a womb infection. Once the heat is over, the majority return to normal, but unfortunately, some dogs develop complications, which lead to an infection (pyometra). As a pyometra develops, the womb fills with pus. A pyometra can lead to blood poisoning, kidney failure, peritonitis and even death.

We talk about a pyometra as either ‘open’ or ‘closed’. An open pyometra is when the womb entrance is open, meaning you are likely to see blood and pus coming from your dog’s vulva. A closed pyometra is when the womb entrance is shut; meaning you are unlikely to see any discharge. A closed pyometra is particularly dangerous because it is at risk of bursting.

It’s very rare, but occasionally a neutered dog will develop a specific type of pyometra called a stump pyometra – read more below. Hormone therapy used to treat an unwanted pregnancy increases the chance of a pyometra.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a pyometra usually begin four to eight weeks after a season, and include:

  • Drinking more than usual
  • Vomiting
  • Pus leaking from vulva/vagina
  • Bloated abdomen (tummy)
  • Panting & weakness
  • Off food
  • Weeing more than usual
  • Collapse

Overview

  • A pyometra is a womb infection – a very serious condition, common in unneutered, female dogs.
  • Treatment for a pyometra includes emergency surgery to remove the womb, a fluid drip and medication.
  • The sooner a dog with a pyometra is treated, the better their chance of survival and recovery. Pyometra can cause death.
  • The most common time for a pyometra to develop is four to eight weeks after a heat/season.
  • Neutering your dog will prevent pyometra.
  • Pyometra is an emergency – contact your vet immediately for an emergency appointment if your dog is showing symptoms.