This is the first time I’ve had a bitch have puppies by C-section so I thought I’d share my experience, actually a quite good one.
Izzy was scheduled for a C-section on Thursday morning, April 5 but when I took her to the vet, progesterone levels were still in the normal range so the decision was made to wait to see if her temperature would start to come down. It was still around 100 degrees, slightly lower than normal, but not low enough to indicate that pre-labor had begun. I continued to watch her during the day and take temps, but everything remained stable.
Since nesting is a huge indicator of puppies making their move for sunshine, I kept Izzy in her crate in our bedroom and filled it with some cloths for her to move around. In my twilight sleep, I could hear her digging like crazy off and on all night, a good sign that something was starting. When I called the vet on Friday morning, temps were still around 100 but I told her about the nesting overnight so in she went again for another progesterone check. Still normal, so back home she went. I was crazy busy with holiday/spring break pet visits with my pet sitting business during the rest of the day, so I didn’t take her temperature again until around 7 pm. It had dropped like a rock, down to just above 98 degrees. That would mean, puppies within 12 or so hours. Well, of course, that would happen so I get to pay the surcharge for after hours surgery and everyone has to be called back in from their couch in front of the TV. However, better at 8 pm than 3 am!
Two vets and a vet tech met me at the clinic just as planned around 8:15 pm. They said they didn’t need my assistance with the puppies, so I made a couple of pet visit runs and was back in about an hour and a half. All done. When I went into the surgery area, Izzy was still a tad groggy, but it didn’t take but a few minutes for her to come around and look almost normal. The anesthesia they used works very quickly, but also leaves the system just as fast. She was given an oxytocin shot and Metacam for pain.
Four of the prettiest little mini Aussies you’ve ever seen were warming and squeaking in the incubator. Two females and two males, one black tri of each and one blue merle of each. I use the phrase “puppies in the oven” all the time, but this time…it was quite true. Izzy continued to come to her senses and the tech and I put the puppies with her to let them nurse. They all latched on and had a drink before we boxed them up to go home.
I talked at length with the tech on duty. She is actually an AKC judge and known in our area because she breeds standard Aussies. Since she is a retired labor and delivery nurse for skin babies, she came to the vet world with a more advanced set of skills. Natural whelping gives a dam time to naturally manufacture the necessary hormones to give her the mothering instinct so sometimes a C-section is confusing to them. They go to sleep, no babies. They wake up…a handful of little wiggly creatures.
Since newborn puppies have no thermostats and cannot regulate their own temperature, it is imperative for their caretakers to keep them artificially warm. The puppies were handed over for travel in a 10″x10″ box taped shut with the neck of a tall bottle of very warm water sticking out the top to keep them nice and toasty. Izzy rode home in her crate lined with towels. She did have some blood residue, but nothing like I expected. They had cleaned her up very well, and she wasn’t leaking hardly at all. Much less than after natural whelping.
I had very few after surgery instructions for Izzy other than to make sure she eats and drinks and takes a round of antibiotics. No stairs or romping for a week or so. All her stitches are internal, so nothing to remove. Not even a follow up vet visit necessary unless she is symptomatic of being ill.
Sometimes the mama dog is so confused after a section, they can hurt their own babies so the tech gave me a small bag of placenta left from the delivery to rub on the puppies behinds if Izzy started to be “weird” about them. That smell would help her realize they belonged to her and it wasn’t a bad dream after all. We got home, and I put Izzy in her whelping area where she has been sleeping for the last couple of weeks to get her ready and put the puppies one by one in with her. The tech told me to let her sniff their bottoms first before laying them down and then help them find a nipple to nurse. No problem! Izzy is such a good mama, her eyes immediately got that warm soft look and she licked them from head to toe as though checking out their every cell. In fact, she licked so much, I got a little concerned that she would get their umbilicals bleeding. Placenta wasn’t necessary so it went in the garbage..yuck!
It was midnight by then, and there’s just something about the whole process that is awe-inspiring and there was no way I was going to go to sleep. I just sat by her box and told her what a good girl she was. Now that said, letting your bitch have puppies isn’t for the faint of heart and takes a lot of work and is quite expensive if you do it the right way. I’m not advocating that everyone go out and breed their dogs because it’s more than puppies, and we want to be sure we are good stewards of our breed of choice.
I continued to sleep a bit and watch for problems, but the night went well. By the next morning, Izzy was out of her box for potty and to the casual observer, nothing seemed to have happened. The puppies nursed non-stop for two days and by Sunday were plumped up like the little sponge seahorses you soak in water. Izzy continues to do well, is eating well and I’m encouraging her to drink lots, necessary for milk production.
Pictures and videos will be coming soon. I cannot find my good camera and in the confusion of the evening, I think I left it in the surgery area. Sure do hope so 🙁