How to Terminate A Dog’s Pregnancy?

Breeding is often not for the faint of heart. There can be loss and complications and sometimes, your champion golden retriever can be out in the yard and you find your neighbors Jack Russell has managed to crash the yard and breed with your girl.


At those moments, many breeders are faced with the question, how to terminate a dog’s pregnancy?


There are several things you can do to terminate a pregnancy, and it needs to be done under the discretion of a professional veterinarian. It is important to know if you would like to use a dog for breeding later or not before you find out how to terminate dog pregnancy.


So how do you terminate a dog’s pregnancy when you aren’t even sure that a pregnancy has taken place. The answer usually relies on going to seek veterinarian help with determining and terminating the pregnancy. 


However, there are many questions that need to be asked and answered if you are serious about terminating.


In this article, we will go over the options to terminate as well as the risks to your dog and your future breeding programs.


My Dog has been Bred, What Now?


So, your beautiful dog has gone into heat and…if you are reading this article…she managed to find a dog nearby and has been bred. This is what we often call an oops litter and they can happen. So, the first thing I’d like you to do is take a deep breath and don’t blame yourself too much.


Believe it or not, male dogs can smell a female in heat up to 3 miles away and, yes, they will travel to find that female. What’s more, an intact male can be quite the Houdini when it comes to getting to an intact female.


For that reason, many people who have both a male and a female will send one to stay elsewhere while the female is in heat if they are not planning to breed.


However, that isn’t always possible and sometimes accidental breedings happen, whether it is with a male you own or one who has wandered into your yard, unbeknownst to you.


And that is where we are at this point…your female was in heat, she’d met up with a male and she may be pregnant, now what?


The answer is that you must make some decisions. But you need to consider a few facts:


Fact #1

It is not possible to determine if your female is pregnant. Most dogs do not start showing signs until about 30 days after ovulation. In addition, a female dog will react the same way, whether she is pregnant or not during those first 30 days.


Fact #2

A blood test can be done to determine pregnancy, but, again, this is not done until day 22 to 27 after the breeding. By this time, the fetuses will have implanted and the cost of terminating the pregnancy can increase.


Fact #3

The best window of time for medical intervention is before 45 days after breeding. Any time after that, the window for abortion will be gone and your female will need to carry to term.


Fact #4

Many vets will not terminate a dog’s pregnancy unless the owners agree with a full spay. If you want to preserve your dog for future litters, you are either going to have to find a vet that will give a shot, or you will need to decide between having an unplanned litter or ending your dog’s breeding career.


Fact #5

There is no guarantee that a dog is pregnant, even if you see the male and female tie. Statistically, a female dog only has a 40% chance of being pregnant with one breeding. This means that there is a 60% chance that she did not get pregnant even with the breeding. Before you make any decisions, you should find out if she is pregnant with a confirmation from the vet.


We will go over a few of these facts, specifically about the risks your dog may be faced with, later in this article. But for now, the focus is that you need to decide whether to keep the pregnancy or terminate it.



What are the Reasons to Terminate a Dog’s Pregnancy?


Now that you may know that your dog is pregnant with an unplanned litter, you may be wondering why you would terminate a dog’s pregnancy. There are several reasons why you would terminate, and you should consider terminating if your dog falls into any of these reasons.


Age of Dog


The age of your dog can greatly affect whether she should carry a litter to term. If she is too old or too young, there could be unexpected risks to both the mom and the puppies.


Many breed clubs recommend a female dog is not bred before 2 years of age or after the age of 7. This can differ from breed to breed but if your female dog is in those two age ranges, consider terminating the pregnancy.


Size of the Parents


Size of the parents matters depending on two specific factors. First, if the female is really small, you may not want to breed her at all. A litter can take a lot out of her and provide several risks for her.


Second, if the male is a lot larger than the female, it can result in large puppies that will be difficult for her to pass through the birth canal.


This can lead to severe complications and result in a c-section to remove the puppies, which can be extremely pricey depending on the breed and if it is an emergency. 


Some emergency c-sections can cost upwards of 3000 dollars.


You Can’t Afford the Care


Litters cost money. Even if the female has no complications with delivering the puppies, you will still need to do vet examinations, shots, deworming and microchipping.


In addition, there is the cost of food that can be quite expensive depending on the size of the litter. If you can’t afford to raise the puppies, you should not let your female carry to term.


You Don’t Have the Time


Some breeds are natural mothers and often do the majority of the work with their puppies, however, there are many dogs and breeds that aren’t and require constant help with their litters.


Regardless of the type of mother you have, raising a litter means long nights, constant care and a lot of time and effort on the part of the owner. Puppies require certain care during every milestone of those first 8 to 10 weeks that they are with you.


In addition, it can take a significant amount of time to find the right homes for your puppies. If you are not prepared to dedicate the next 8 to 12 weeks to your new momma and her puppies, then raising a litter shouldn’t be an option.


Health of the Dam


If your female has a pre-existing condition or she is prone to genetic conditions that can be passed to her offspring, you should terminate the pregnancy. In addition, you should spay her so there is no chance of a future breeding.


Mix Breeding


While all dogs, whether they are purebred or mixed, are wonderful, the majority of dogs in shelters are mixed breeds from unplanned litters.


Many purebred dog breeders will terminate a mix breed as it is not moving toward the goals of their breeding kennel. However, if you are not a purebred dog breeder, it may still be a good option to terminate the dog’s pregnancy to help curb the overpopulation of dogs.


As you can see, there are many reasons why a pregnancy should be terminated but, ultimately, you need to assess whether or not you have the time, energy and resources to raise a litter to 8 to 12 weeks of age.


Can you Terminate a Dog’s Pregnancy?


When it comes to whether you can terminate a dog’s pregnancy or not, the answer is yes. Many vets will do the procedure and it can be done a number of different ways.


In addition, dog abortions are legal throughout the world. They are often considered a standard procedure that most veterinarians will perform.


However, while they may be legal, some find it morally wrong to terminate a dog’s pregnancy. And that includes some vets who will not terminate a pregnancy.


For that reason, be prepared for your vet to say no.


How to Terminate a Dog’s Pregnancy?


If you have made the decision to terminate your dog’s pregnancy, you may be wondering what the options are for the procedure. There are actually several different ways that you can have the pregnancy terminated and I will go over each of them.



#1 Ovariohysterectomy


The first, and often most common, way to terminate a dog’s pregnancy is to have an ovariohysterectomy, also known as a spay, performed.


This procedure can be done at any time after the breeding. To help prevent complications, most vets recommend waiting two or three weeks after the breeding since the amount of swelling due to the heat will be reduced.


With the ovariohysterectomy, there is no option to breed your dog at a later time as all of the reproductive organs are removed along with the puppies.


If you are planning to use your female in a breeding program, you should avoid this option. If there are no risks due to her age or the size of the parents, it may be the best option to have her carry to term, even if it is not ideal.


#2 Mismate Injections


Mismate injection are gaining a lot of popularity as a viable option to terminate a pregnancy that is not as invasive as a spay. The dog can be bred after a mismate treatment, however, there many be some issues with fertility later in life.


These injections block the progesterone receptors in the uterus and without that progesterone, the uterus is not a hospitable environment to support a viable pregnancy.


Although many vets offer a mismate injection as one shot, some vets will offer it as more than one depending on the injection. There are two common mismate injections that your dog can be given. These are:

Prostaglandins

This is a drug that will help expel any fetuses that have attached to the uterine wall. It is often given as a series of injections over a 3 to 14 day period depending on the medication given. The injections are given 3 times per day.

Prostaglandins

Antiprogestins

Similar to prostaglandins, these work in the same was as the prostaglandins. The treatment is often daily shots for the first 48 hours. After those first two shots, the dog will receive two more in 2 week intervals.


This injection should never be given later than 45 days into the pregnancy as they can have severe side effects after 45 days gestation. In addition, some vets opt to give this medication twice in a 24 hour period.


With both medications, the injections have a nearly 100% success rate before 22 days after breeding and a 95% success rate after day 22.


The main problem is that the side effects can be quite severe and they get worse the further along the pregnancy is. Therefore, these should be an option when the termination is done early on.

ANtiprogrestin


Side effects of mismate injections are:

  • Expulsion of the fetuses
  • Reduced Appetite
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Uterine Infection
  • Anorexia
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe Blood Loss


#3 Oral Medications


Like the mismate injection, there are several different drugs that work in similar ways and will stop a pregnancy. These include:

Dexamethasone

This drug is prescribed for a termination after day 30 gestation.


It is given for several days, up to 10 to 14 days and the dose is usually twice daily until all of the fetuses have been expelled.



This drug should never be given to a dog with a pre-existing health condition as it can produce complications including medically-induced Cushing’s disease. Other side effects with dexamethasone are:


  • Expulsion of the fetuses
  • Risk of secondary infection
  • Dehydration
  • Increased hunger
  • Increased urination
  • Restlessness

Oral Estrogen

Another medication that is given is oral estrogen. This works to raise the estrogen level in the dog, which prevents a viable pregnancy from occurring.



Like some other medication, oral estrogen should be given before day 15 to day 20 of the pregnancy. After that point, it can lead to other complications but is ineffective as an abortion pill.


Oral estrogen is given for a few days; however, it is not a popular choice since it increases the risk of pyometra in dogs, which is a very serious uterine infection.


Some vets will use both oral medications and injections to ensure that the litter is terminated.


It is very important to work with your dog’s veterinarian to ensure that you choose the right option for you and your dog.


When to Terminate a Dog’s Pregnancy?


Terminating a dog’s pregnancy can be done at any time before your dog is 45 days gestation. This means that 45 days after the first breeding or 45 days after ovulation.


Although there are several medications that can be given prior to 15 days, veterinarians recommend that you wait until after confirmation of pregnancy.


The reason for this is because medications can result in a number of complications for your dog and if the dog is not pregnant, you are putting her through that risk for nothing.


With spaying the dog, many veterinarians will do it at any time during the pregnancy, which goes up to 63 days. However, most vets will not perform an abortion on a dog past the 45-day gestation.


The main reason is that the further along the dog is with her pregnancy, the greater the risks to her health. Abortions after 45 days increase the risk of hemorrhaging, which could result in the death of your dog.


Are there Risks to Terminating a Dog’s Pregnancy?


When it comes to risks, there are a number of risks and they will differ depending on the type of termination and how far along the dog is in her pregnancy.


If your dog has had a full spay, then risks can be linked to the table. Some dogs can have reactions to the anesthesia they are placed under. While this is not common, there are many breeds with anesthesia sensitivity, which could result in death.


In addition, the further along the pregnancy is, the greater the risk of hemorrhaging, which increases the risk of death. However, for the majority of spays, there are no complications or risks.


Females will need wound care as they would with any spay but there are no additional risks to the dog.


With shots and medicinal interventions, there are a number of risks that can occur. These include:

Side effects from the medication:

Dehydration:

Pyometra:

Failed Termination: 

Future Fertility Problems: 


As you can see, there are a number of risks, however, there are many risks and additional expenses with having your dog carry a pregnancy to term. It is important to weight the pros and cons of both before you make your decision.


Will my Dog be able to be Bred if I Terminate the Pregnancy?


Yes and no. If you opt for a spay abortion, which many vets insist on, obviously, the answer is no. If you choose the medication or shot, your dog should still be able to produce litters in the future.


It should be noted that some medications can lead to future fertility problems, so it is important to discuss those risks with your veterinarian before deciding on a course of action.


Will Letting her Carry the Litter Ruin her for Future Purebred Litters?


This is a myth that has been prevalent for a number of years…if a mix breeding occurs, you have to wait several litters before you can produce a purebred litter from that female again…if ever.


And that is exactly what it is, a myth. Even if a mixed breeding does occur, and your dog carries the litter to term, only that litter will be mixed. Every other litter, if bred to a purebred dog of the same breed, will be a purebred litter. The female will not ruin her for future purebred litters.


Can I Terminate a Pregnancy at Home?


No. There are methods that some breeders will say work but none of them are safe for your female dog and very few of them will work to terminate a pregnancy. If you suspect that your dog is pregnant with an undesired pregnancy, take her to the veterinarian to have the pregnancy terminated.


What is the Cost of Terminating a Dog Pregnancy?


Cost of terminating a pregnancy really depends on the individual vet, where you live and how you will be terminating the pregnancy. If you are terminating with a spay, the average price for a termination is between 300 to 1000 dollars. It may be a bit more depending on your area and how far along your dog is. Usually, if it is within 15 days after breeding, the cost is the same as a simple spay.


If you are using medications to have the dog abort or absorb the puppies, the cost can range from a 100 to 700 dollars. Again, this depends on where you are located, and the medications being offered.


While there may be vets who will not terminate an unwanted canine pregnancy, most will offer the service. If you do it as quickly as possible, there should be no long-lasting effects to your dog. In addition, there won’t be any unwanted puppies brought into the world due to an oops litter.