At College Animal Hospital, our skilled veterinarians perform scheduled and emergency C-sections for San Diego pets and offer expert neonatal care for their newborns. 

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What is a C-Section?

A C-section (or 'cesarean') is a major surgery that is performed to safely remove puppies or kittens from the uterus of their mother. 

C-sections are often necessary in emergency cases where an animal will not be able to safely give birth through natural means. The recovery from a C-section is usually quite quick and complications are rare.

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C-Section, San Diego Veterinarians

Preparing for a C-Section

If you can safely do so, you should consider bathing your pet in the days leading up to the surgery. It may be a while until you are able to do so again once the surgery is complete. Bathing your pet before the procedure also means that she will already be clean for the surgery itself and once she begins caring for her new puppies or kittens.

You may feed your pet the night before a C-section, but she must not eat on the morning of the procedure. Water is fine right up until your appointment, as well as any medications your pet has to take along with a small amount of food to encourage her to take it. Make sure you discontinue the use of any topical flea or tick products in the week leading up to the surgery.

Your vet will provide more specific pre-operation instructions well in advance of the procedure.

C-Section FAQs

  • Why does my pet need a c-section?

    C-sections are usually done in emergency situations for cats and dogs when an animal has been in labor for too long or will otherwise be unable to give birth naturally.

  • Are there any risks associated with c-sections?

    There are always risks involved with surgery, but complications as a result of C-sections are rare. Potential complications could include:

    • Pyometra (uterine infection)
    • Post-operative hemorrhaging
    • Infection
    • Mastitis
    • Anesthetic death
  • What can I expect immediately after surgery?

    Your pet's anesthesia should wear off shortly after the surgery. By the time most cats or dogs have returned home, they will have fully recovered from the effects of the anesthetic; however, it is possible for recovery to take up to 6 hours.

    During this recovery period, it's important to keep a close eye on your pet to make sure that she does not hurt herself or her new kittens/puppies by falling down or rolling over. Make sure she is fully aware and alert, has begun actively caring for her new offspring, and is able to stand unassisted before leaving her alone.

    The new mother should begin eating within the first few hours of returning home. Make sure she is only having a small amount of food or water at a time, but offer them to her every 15-30 minutes for the first 24 hours post-surgery. Be careful that she doesn't eat or drink too much, as it could cause her to vomit.

    While nursing her growing offspring, a dog or cat will require lots of food. For the first week post-surgery, she will need around one-and-a-half times her regular amount of food. By the time she has been nursing for about 4 weeks, she should be eating anywhere from two to three times her normal amount of food. Ensure that she is being fed a higher quality food in order to give her and her new babies enough nutrition.

Expert Neo-Natal Care

After the birth of your newborn pets our veterinary team is here to provide quality neo-natal care for your newest additions. We'll also help you prepare to care for them when you return home.   

Home Care After a C-Section

After a C-section, the new mother and her babies should be watched closely for the first 24 hours to make sure the kittens or puppies are safe.

You'll need to stay up overnight and make sure that the new kittens or puppies are latching onto their mother's teat and feeding properly. 

Make sure the environment around the newborns and mother is warm and dry. Ensure there is always access to food and fresh, clean water available; new mothers need up to 3 times their regular amounts of food and water to produce milk for their offspring.

Keep a close eye on the mother's surgical incision, monitor for signs of infection like swelling or redness, and make sure the area stays clean. Keeping their bed clean and checking umbilical cords for redness or swelling will also reduce the risk of infection.

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