How to Terminate a Dog Pregnancy
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At AnimalWised, we understand there are many sensitive issues when it comes to pet care. However, care is the operative word and we strive to provide the best information to make the world better for both individual animals and the animal community as a whole. Few topics are as sensitive as animal abortion. With around 3.3 millions dogs entering animal shelters a year in the USA alone, there is a social responsibility to prevent the abandonment and mistreatment of domestic animals. For this reason, some may seriously consider the question of how to terminate a dog pregnancy. We provide some practical information about what is involved in the process as well as consider some of the emotional ramifications.
The importance of preventing dog pregnancy
Unwanted pregnancy in dogs represents a very delicate situation. Any responsible owner will will need to weigh the pros and cons over whether the pregnancy should be continued or terminated. While it will be too late if the dog is already pregnant, these hard considerations are why neutering your pets is such a vital part of maintaining a dog's health.
The best method of pregnancy prevention in female dogs is spaying, also known as an ovariohysterectomy. This is a surgical intervention whereby both uterus and ovaries are removed. Doing this not only prevents pregnancy in dogs, but it helps to calm hormone-related behaviors and provides an overall better quality of life for the dog.
Behavioral issues are not only reduced through spaying. Potential pathologies such as breast cancer, pyometra and uterine infections are also made unlikely. In terms of pyometra and uterine infections, the organs are removed so it is theoretically impossible. Only surgeries which do not adequately remove the tissue may lead to related issues such as pyometra in dogs.
If a dog owner chooses not to sterilize a bitch, they need to keep the dog controlled during their estrus cycle, also known as heat. This is the receptive period where a dog will allow males to mount in attempt to get pregnant. If a male does mount the dog, pregnancy is likely so vigilance is required at all times. There are medications which inhibit the heat cycles of dogs. However, they have many contraindications with potential side effects including the aforementioned cancer and pyometra. It is not recommended for prolonged use. We have more detailed information if you want to know more about preventing your dog from having puppies.
Can dogs get abortions?
If your dog has not had any preventative measures taken to avoid pregnancy, you will need to asses whether termination is advisable. You may want to consider the following:
- The age of the dog as being too young or too old increases health risks to the mother.
- If they suffer from a preexisting condition.
- The breed of parental dogs as a much larger breed impregnating a smaller one can cause complications and will usually require cesarean section.
- Expenses involved in veterinary care including food, possible medical complications during childbirth, cesarean as well as those incurred in raising the puppies.
- Searching for a home for the puppies when they arrive and making sure all of their health care needs are taken care of, especially in terms of vaccinations.
If you do choose to abort the fetus, the next section details what is required to terminate canine pregnancy. However, if the decision has been made in the affirmative, it is of utmost importance that a veterinarian is consulted and their advice be taken. Phantom pregnancies are also known to occur, so it is also important to rule this out as a possibility.
Keep reading to find out the methods of canine pregnancy termination and whether a dog abortion at home is possible.
Ways to abort canine pregnancy
Hormone drugs are one of the most common ways to terminate a dog's pregnancy. These can be implemented, but only until up to 45 days of gestation. They need to be prescribed by a veterinarian and be from a reputable source. Do not purchase them online or from an unlicensed retailer. Even qualified medication may incur side effects.
If the drugs are taken early enough, the fetus will be absorbed. Later term abortions will are riskier and the dog will need to expel the fetus. Expelling the fetus may have its own side effects. There is a greater risk of obstructions and it may even require a cesarean section if the fetus is sufficiently large.
It is also possible to terminate a dog's pregnancy by sterilizing her while pregnant. It is a way which allows for the two procedures to occur at the same time and can be a good option for some. Theoretically this can be done at any stage, but it will depend on the judgment of the veterinarian. If there are other risks then they will also be able to asses whether it is a good option. Some veterinarians may not want to make this procedure based on their personal views. The more advanced the pregnancy, the riskier the intervention. There is a greater chance of hemorrhaging and causing damage to the uterus.
Until what time can a dog's pregnancy be terminated?
As we have seen in the previous sections, a dog's pregnancy should not be terminated after 45 days of gestation. However, there are other factors to consider when making this decision. The type of treatment and the physical condition of the dog are the two main ones. This is why it is imperative to seek veterinary advice when wanting to abort a dog's pregnancy. The specialist will examine the mother and advise whether it is possible to terminate or if bringing the litter to term is the best option.
While it can be done up to 45 days, it is important to act as soon as possible. You may need some time to make a decision, but waiting will not be beneficial if you do decide to terminate. The longer you wait, the greater the risks.
Can a pregnant dog be aborted at home?
No, we do not advise under any circumstances that a pet owner perform a termination on a pregnant dog at home without the supervision of a veterinary specialist. The consequences can be fatal to the mother, especially if we have no experience or use methods which are inappropriate. For this reason, if we want to abort our dog's pregnancy, we need to visit a specialist for a health evaluation and course of treatment.
Administering drugs or medication on your own to have a bitch aborted without professional regulation can end the dog's life via poisoning, hemorrhaging or complications in delivering the fetuses. If the pregnancy is advanced, they will have to give birth to dead puppies. This can not only be physically stressful for the dog, it can be psychologically troubling for all involved. Also, post-termination care such as taking care of their lactation.
Ethical and psychological considerations of terminating a dog's pregnancy
While we are able to give practical information on how to deal with aborting a canine pregnancy, there are moral implications which are down to personal views. However, there are also undeniable circumstances which do influence such decisions. The current dog population on the planet demands birth control. Animal shelters are already overcrowded, with canine euthanasia taking place on a regular basis. While far from ideal, it is often a necessary measure due to lack of resources and the quality of life of individual dogs. Every new puppy puts greater strain on animal services and can take the place of another dog which is already waiting to be housed.
As mammals, we empathize with the emotional aspect of childbirth. Dogs have an instinct to look after their young, so terminating a pregnancy has the potential for being stressful for the dog. However, the acuteness of any psychological damage has been inadequately documented. Breeders also take the puppies to term and then separate them from their mother during the socialization period. Whether this causes more or less stress to the mother is debatable. When looking at it from this perspective, terminating the pregnancy early before the dog has had time to get attached may even be kinder.
Whatever is the decision, it is a personal one which should not be taken lightly. Speaking to a vet will help and also provide the best information to know which course of action to take.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Terminate a Dog Pregnancy, we recommend you visit our Pregnancy problems category.
1. ASPCA. (2019). Pet Statistics. Retrieved from: