Caesarian Section: Post Operative Instructions

Yorkshire Terrier before a Caesarian SectionCaesarian section is a major operation carried out to remove puppies that cannot be born normally. Both the anaesthetic procedure and the surgical technique are designed to ensure that recovery is as rapid as possible. If the bitch has been in labour for several hours prior to the operation her recovery may be delayed and she may then need extra attention and help with her litter.

What should I expect during the recovery period?

In order to reduce stress as much as possible we try to return the bitch to her familiar environment as soon as we can which is usually as soon as she is sufficiently recovered from the anaesthetic to be able to care for her puppies.

We offer the puppies to her as soon as she has recovered sufficiently. If there are any problems with her milk supply we will show you how to hand feed the puppies.

It is important in the first few hours post operatively that she is watched to ensure she does not roll upon or crush her puppies. If at any time she appears uncoordinated make sure she is monitored and, if necessary, remove some of the puppies from her and keep them on a warm water bottle covered with a towel or blanket. If you need any help please contact us.

How long should I expect my dog’s recovery period to take?

Without complications in a normal healthy bitch this should only be a few hours. However it does depend on her physical condition and the length of time she was in labour prior to surgery as well as the number of puppies delivered etc.

Should the puppies be allowed to feed from her as soon as we get her home?

It is beneficial both for the bitch and puppies that suckling commences as soon as possible after delivery. Even if her milk supply is sparse, suckling by the puppies will help comfort her.  Therefore allow the puppies to suckle as soon as possible even if you are also hand- feeding  them. Initially the bitch produces milk rich in colostrum which contains antibodies designed to protect the puppies from disease. Therefore even if the bitch’s milk supplies are poor, it is of value that the puppies receive some colostrum, if at all possible.  

"It is beneficial both for the bitch and puppies that suckling commences as soon as possible after delivery. Even if her milk supply is sparse, suckling by the puppies will help comfort her."

Will she have sufficient milk after her surgery?

This depends entirely on the individual and the circumstances of the surgery, size of litter etc. Milk supply usually returns to normal within 24 hours. If necessary special food and feeders will be supplied together with instructions regarding use. It is important that puppies are encouraged to suckle and they are monitored regularly until the bitch has completely recovered from the anaesthetic. If you have any concerns, please contact us.

Can I feed my dog when I get her home?

Most bitches are more interested in drinking than eating immediately post operatively. If your dog appears thirsty when you get her home, offer her small quantities of water followed by her normal diet divided into small portions, fed frequently. If she is not immediately interested in food, make sure that she has plentiful fluid in small quantities but do not offer too much milk if she is not used to this since any change of diet at this time can result in bowel upsets.

Normally after whelping food intake should be approximately one and a half times the non-pregnant daily intake. Make sure this is divided into small meals offered frequently for the first 24-48 hours post surgery. Depending on the size of the litter the bitch’s food intake will increase so that by the third or fourth week she will be eating about three times her normal daily intake. This coincides with the time of greatest milk production which is usually about 21 days post whelping.

Will we have to bring her back for a post surgical check?

It is always worthwhile checking major surgical cases two or three days post operatively. However, in the case of a C-section it is also important that the bitch is not stressed unduly and this is why we ask you to keep in touch. Provided she and the puppies appear to be thriving this check-up may be postponed. We will inform you if there are any sutures that need removal. Please keep in contact if you have any concerns.

Bulldog after Caesarian Section with pupsIs there anything I should watch for with the puppies?

All the puppies should be thriving and gaining weight. If any appear particularly small it is worth manually placing them on a teat and we will show you how to do this if necessary. When suckling the puppies should appear relaxed, quiet and contented. If they are vocal it is usually a sign that they are not receiving sufficient milk. Please contact us without delay.

If any puppies appear to be smaller than the rest should I supplement them?

Yes but please contact us about this and we will advise you. In an emergency canned evaporated milk reconstituted at double the normal strength can be used if you do not have any special supplement.

Is it necessary to provide additional warmth for the puppies?

Newborn puppies are not able to regulate their own body temperature. If the mother is nursing well she will be keeping the puppies close to her and providing sufficient warmth. However, if you are concerned that any of the puppies feel cold, please contact us. If you are hand rearing and some of the puppies are temporarily separated from the bitch their ambient temperature should be 29.5–32oC.  It is important that if you are using a heat lamp or similar, to ensure that over heating does not occur. Please see information leaflets, Breeding for Pet Owners, numbers 6 and 7.

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