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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cesarian Questions

My story about the Cesarian section a few days ago sparked some questions that I thought would make an interesting discussion.

As a vet-in-the-making with an unending string of questions, do you mind if I ask you a couple of things?
Is it normal procedure to spay after a caesarian, or were there specific reasons (eg the difficult birth or the pregnancy was accidental) that you chose to do it on this occasion?
Presumably removing the ovaries affects the bitch hormonally - does this have an effect on her maternal instincts towards the puppy? (Or even affect her physically, eg reducing lactation?)
Thanks, just interested :)

C-sections usually happen because the mother can't give birth naturally, often because the puppies are too big. In English bulldogs this is routinely done since they have such large heads. Certain selective procedures such as this can involve a breeding bitch (proper medical term, folks!) worth thousands of dollars. Her reproductive future is important so you don't spay them. However, certain dogs have litters accidentally, or have serious complications, and future litters could be a risk to their health or life. These dogs should be spayed. In my particular case the father was apparently smaller than the female, yet the puppies were too large. At three years old this was her first litter, and the owners didn't have her for the purpose of breeding. I discussed with them the future risks of other litters, and they agreed that it wasn't worth this happening again and wanted her spayed.

Ovaries produce many hormones, all important to the reproductive cycle. Removing the ovaries obviously affects hormonal production, but not immediately. There are already in the blood stream, and you're just affecting continued production and not what is already present. It can take days for those levels to go away, and longer for the affects on the body to reverse. So spaying her had no effect on her rejecting the puppy a few hours later. Estrogen levels drop immediately after birth anyway, and so have little to no influence on behavioral or physiological responses. Lactation after pregnancy is primarily controlled by prolactin, and after this point the milk production is mostly controlled by whether or not there is nursing occurring. Unfortunately, maternal behavior in pets or people aren't completely under the control of hormones, otherwise it would be easy to make humans and animals better mothers merely by a supplementation.

Good questions!


  1. Wow, a post for my questions! :)
    Thank you, that's very interesting to know!

  2. Hey, I thought they were interesting questions! Definitely worth a post.

  3. It would be really cool if you could take a hormone pill that would make you a better parent. I'd take 30 of 'em a day! :)


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