Pregnancy Termination in Dogs

Pregnancy termination in dogs may be necessary if you don’t want the puppies or the dog has a medical condition that will worsen with pregnancy. The most commonly used pregnancy termination is spaying the dog, which will remove the uterus and the puppies and will also prevent other future pregnancies. However, other means of terminating a pregnancy are also available. These are recommended if you want to breed the dog in the future.

Detecting a Pregnancy

It’s important to detect a pregnancy and make sure your dog is pregnant before going any further and planning the pregnancy termination.

Your dog may get pregnant when in heat; during 1 cycle, the chances of getting pregnant are estimated as being around 40%. If you leave your dog unsupervised, she can mate and this can result in an unwanted pregnancy.

The signs of pregnancy may include:

  • Lack of appetite during the first weeks, followed by increased appetite as the pregnancy advances
  • Swollen abdomen; the puppies can be felt and even seen moving, but only after week 3 or 4 of pregnancy

An ultrasound test can confirm if the dog is pregnant. The sooner the diagnosis is made, the sooner the pregnancy termination can be performed; this will also mean less potential complications for the mother.

Pregnancy Termination through Spaying

Spaying is the procedure that involves removing the uterus and possibly the ovaries as well. The surgery may be more complicated if the dog is pregnant and may even be fatal, as the bleeding will be more severe.

Drugs for Pregnancy Termination

There are also drugs that can work to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. This option is chosen by owners that are intending to breed the dog at a later date.

The drugs may not always be effective, but may work in many cases. There are 3 types of drugs that have been used to terminate pregnancies:

  • Estrogens can prevent the implantation of the fertilized eggs into the uterus; however, this treatment will be effective if administered soon after breeding
  • Prostalandings inhibit the production of progesterone, which is needed during pregnancy, may be safer than estrogens, but also less effective in terminating pregnancy. These drugs may kill only some puppies
  • Glucocorticoids, may be used when the pregnancy is advanced and will result in delivering dead puppies

Some drugs will not be effective and the vet may try several options before he will succeed in terminating the pregnancy. To confirm that the pregnancy is terminated, the vet will perform an ultrasound test.

It’s important to be aware of the potential side effects and complications of terminating a pregnancy through drug administration:

  • The suppression of bone marrow, which may be fatal and can occur after a treatment with estrogens
  • Pyometra, which is an infection of the uterus and may occur after estrogens or prostaglandins are administered; may be treated with antibiotics
  • Trauma, may occur if the dog delivers dead puppies
  • Infertility