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Emergency C-Section

Why would this be indicated?

Cesarean section is primarily indicated when the patient is suffering from dystocia (difficulty giving birth). Dystocia can be caused by a number of issues such as oversized puppies/kittens, malpositioned fetuses, maldeveloped fetuses, dead fetuses, small pelvic canal and uterine inertia (failure of uterus to expel fetuses). This procedure is more commonly indicated in small and brachycephalic breeds because they are more likely to experience dystocia.

At the time of discussion, the veterinarian will offer Ovariohysterectomy (spay) which can be safely performed in conjunction with the cesarean section if the patient will not be bred any further. This is usually recommended as patients that develop dystocia and requiring c-section surgery will likely have dystocia again in future litters and are not recommended to be bred.


  • For healthy patients undergoing C-section the reported neonatal survival rate is between 70-90% (this can be significantly lower if the mother is in poor condition or if there was prolong dystocia pre-operatively)
  • Maternal mortality rate is reported to be between 0-2% in dogs and cats
  • Mastitis
  • Wound infection
  • Peritonitis
  • Persistent hemorrhage (if the patient is kept intact)
  • Pyometra (if the patient is kept intact)


  • Most patients will recover and be discharged from hospital within one-two days.
  • Restricted activity for 14 days. Short leash walks only to go to the bathroom (if applicable). No running, jumping or rough plays during this time.
  • Patient is monitored closely for the first week for reduced appetite, abdominal pain and swelling, lethargy, fever and vomiting.
  • Pain medication may be given as a short course.
  • An Elizabethan (E) collar (“cone”) is provided and may need to be worn at all times to prevent self-trauma of the surgical site.
  • Daily monitoring of the surgical site. Complications include oozing, a foul smell, swelling or pain at the surgical site. A bandage may be applied to the surgical site to be kept on for the first day (and removed thereafter) after surgery to minimize leaking from the incision.