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Can a Dog Have an Abortion? Understanding the Options Available

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe


Sometimes, dog owners may face difficult decisions. One such decision is considering whether their dog should have an abortion. It is not an easy topic, but discussing it openly and without judgment is important. There are already too many stray and rescue dogs that need loving homes. Additionally, medical conditions that could harm the pregnant dog sometimes make it necessary.

If a dog has an abortion, she will need extra care and attention to recover properly. After the procedure, a dog also needs a safe and comfortable resting place. Providing her with a soft and cozy dog bed can be a great way to ensure her comfort during this time.

For more detailed and accurate information on dog abortions and how to care for a dog after the terminating a pregnancy, we consulted our expert source, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, veterinarians, and medical sources. Ultimately, the decision should consider the dog’s best interests. Continue reading to learn more.

Understanding Canine Pregnancy

Medical sources agree Canine pregnancy lasts for approximately 63 days from the day of breeding. The dog’s body changes significantly during this period to accommodate the growing puppies. Understanding the different stages of canine pregnancy helps dog owners make informed decisions regarding abortion. 

If your dog has mated, you need to know what to expect from her afterward. And you also need to make some decisions by asking the following questions:

  • Can you care for her properly during pregnancy?
  • Are you able to invest the time in helping to raise pups? It’s a myth that the mother will know exactly what to do. There are many situations that may need your intensive involvement, such as when she has too many pups to care for or when she abandons her puppy. After weaning at 3.5 weeks, you will pretty much have to do everything, from feeding to cleaning up poop from 8 to 12 little butts.
  • Are you prepared for the birth, aware of the signs of labor, and the many possible complications?

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, do you have good homes lined up for the puppies? 

Good breeders have waiting lists for their puppies and extensive screening system to make sure every puppy gets the best possible chance at life. 

An ethical breeder will also have contracts that stipulate that should the owner need to give the dog up for any reason, that the dog comes back to the breeder instead of shelter or unscreened home. 

If your dog has accidentally become pregnant, and you don’t have good homes ready to take what could easily be over six puppies, you risk your puppies going to bad homes. Or worse, ending up in shelters. This is why from a welfare standpoint, terminating a pregnancy could be the best thing to do.

But to understand how termination a pregnancy works, we need to first look at the stages of pregnancy.

Stages of Canine Pregnancy

The first stage of pregnancy is called the early stage. The fertilized eggs travel and attach to the walls of the dog’s uterus. The dog may not show any obvious physical changes during this stage. It usually lasts about 3 to 4 weeks.

Then comes the middle stage of pregnancy, also known as the mid-pregnancy stage. It spans from around 4 to 6 weeks. The dog’s belly will grow as the puppies develop inside her. 

The dog may gain weight, and her nipples might become larger and pinkish. It becomes more apparent that she is going to have puppies.

The final stage of pregnancy is the late stage. It starts roughly six weeks into the pregnancy. The late stage lasts till the end of the 9th week. The puppies’ organs and features fully form in the late stage. 

The dog’s belly will be quite big. During this time, the dog must rest and have a comfortable space to prepare to give birth to the puppies.

Dog Abortion: An Overview

Dog abortion is the process of terminating a pregnancy in dogs. There are various reasons, including health concerns, financial constraints, or unwanted pregnancies. 

However, dog abortion is a sensitive topic. It’s crucial to understand the risks and benefits before making any decisions.

There are two main types of dog abortion: medical and surgical. Medical abortion involves using medications to terminate the pregnancy. Surgical abortion involves removing the embryos and reproductive organs through surgery. 

Both methods have advantages and disadvantages. The choice of method depends on various factors such as the dog’s health, stage of pregnancy, and the owner’s preferences.

Methods of Dog Abortion

Medical Abortion

Medical canine abortion can stop a dog’s pregnancy using hormonal drugs. Veterinary and medical sources describe two methods based on the stage of pregnancy:

  1. Early Pregnancy: Natural or synthetic prostaglandins (fats that act like hormones) can be used in the first 25 to 35 days after mating. Prostaglandins are hormones that can help stop pregnancy by making the uterus contract. This process may take up to 14 days. If the vet uses synthetic prostaglandins, they work better and have fewer side effects.
  1. Second Half of Pregnancy: After 35 days, doses of prolactin inhibitors or dexamethasone are used. Prolactin inhibitors stop a hormone called prolactin, which is important for pregnancy. Dexamethasone is another medicine that also stops pregnancy. This is a steroid (corticosteroid) drug that copies the effects of natural hormones that induces the body to get rid of fetuses.

Surgical Abortion

Surgical abortion for dogs involves a surgery called “spay abortion surgery.” During this surgery, the veterinarian removes the uterus and ovaries. The vet also removes the embryos, and the pregnancy is stopped. After this surgery, the female dog cannot get pregnant again.

However, there are extra risks if the dog is already pregnant during the surgery. The blood vessels in the reproductive tract become larger and thicker. These are:

  • The surgery takes longer, and there might be extra costs. Sometimes, the dog must stay at the hospital longer or wear a bandage at home. 
  • The scar from the surgery will also be longer than in a regular spay. The risk of excessive bleeding during surgery is higher for bigger dogs and more advanced pregnancies.
  • Improper or unlicensed procedures can lead to serious health complications, including infections, bleeding, and even death. It requires careful consideration and professional guidance. 
  • The reproduction organs are swollen with extra blood flow, making complications from surgery more likely, much like if you spay a dog in heat.

Pet owners should consult with their veterinarian to discuss the risks and benefits of dog abortion. It helps them make an informed decision. 

9 Common Reasons A Dog May Need An Abortion.

  1. If your dog is too young or too old, it might not be safe for them to go through pregnancy and birth, or to safely nurse the puppies.
  2. If the size difference between the male and female dogs is significant, the puppies could become too large for the mother to carry safely.
  3. When an owner can’t afford the proper care for a pregnant dog and the ensuing puppies, it may be necessary to consider an abortion.
  4. If the owner doesn’t have the time and resources to care for young puppies, getting the dog an abortion could be the responsible choice.
  5. If the mother dog has pre-existing health conditions or genetic issues, it might be best to prevent a risky pregnancy through an abortion.
  6. Mixed breed dogs are more likely to end up in shelters, so preventing unplanned litters can help reduce this problem.
  7. When there are no planned homes for the puppies, an abortion can prevent potential hardship for both the puppies and the owner.
  8. Pregnancy complications can arise in dogs, and if the risks are high, an abortion may be the safer option.
  9. Getting your dog an abortion can help prevent the birth of unwanted puppies, reducing the strain on animal shelters and ensuring responsible pet ownership.

Possible Risks and Complications Of Getting A Dog An Abortion

Any medical procedure comes with potential complications and health risks. That is true for both surgical and medical canine abortions. Having an experienced vet perform the abortion decreases the chances, but sometimes complications are unforeseeable. 

Risks Involved In Spay Surgery Abortion

While the procedure is generally safe when performed by a qualified veterinarian, risks are always associated with any procedure. One of the most common risks associated with surgical canine abortions is infection. 

That can occur if bacteria enter the uterus during the procedure. It can also happen when the dog’s immune system is compromised. Signs of infection can include fever, low energy levels, and discharge from the surgical site.

Another potential complication is excessive bleeding. Several factors, including improper surgical technique or an underlying medical condition, can cause this.

In some cases, a dog may experience an adverse reaction to anesthesia. It can be especially dangerous for older dogs or those with underlying health conditions. 

Risks Involved In Canine Medical Abortion

One significant risk is the narrow time frame during which these medications can work. That means the vet must precisely calculate the dosage to be safe and effective. Giving too little may not terminate the pregnancy, while giving too much can lead to serious complications.

Furthermore, some side effects may occur during the medical abortion process. These can include mild and passing adverse effects such as rapid panting, trembling, nausea, and diarrhea.  

Incorrect administration or using unlicensed medications can lead to severe health problems for the dog. These include infections, bleeding, or even death. Proper monitoring by a veterinarian is crucial to ensure the dog’s safety and well-being.

Post-Abortion Care for Dogs

After a dog has undergone an abortion procedure, it is important to provide proper care to ensure a smooth recovery. Naturally, in the case of surgical abortion, they need specific care while recovering. Here are some tips for post-abortion care for dogs:

Pain Management

Dogs may experience some pain and discomfort after an abortion procedure. It is important to give them pain medication as the veterinarian prescribed to manage it effectively. Owners should also monitor their dog’s behavior for signs of pain and discomfort. Be sure to read more on how to comfort dogs in pain.

Rest and Recovery

Dogs need a quiet, comfortable, and warm environment to recover. Owners should limit their dog’s activity and exercise after the procedure. Providing plenty of rest time for the dog to recover fully is important.

Diet and Hydration

Owners should ensure that their dog is well-hydrated and eating a nutritious diet. Following the veterinarian’s instructions on feeding and hydration is vital. Some dogs may require a special diet or feeding schedule after the procedure.

Follow-Up Care

Owners should schedule follow-up appointments with the veterinarian to ensure their dog is healing properly. Monitoring the dog’s behavior and health closely during recovery helps avoid complications and health problems.

Preventing Unwanted Canine Pregnancy

Preventing unwanted pregnancy in dogs is a cornerstone of being a responsible pet owner. There are various ways to do this, including:

  1. Spaying: This surgical procedure for female dogs removes their ovaries and uterus. Spaying makes it impossible for them to get pregnant. It is a permanent solution and the best choice if you don’t want your dog to have puppies.
  2. Neutering: For male dogs, neutering is the way to go. It’s a surgical procedure that removes their testicles, so they can’t make female dogs pregnant. Neutering is also a permanent solution.
  3. Contraceptives: Other options like injections, pills, or implants work as contraceptives for dogs. However, they are less effective than spaying or neutering and should only get used temporarily.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the cost of a dog abortion?

A surgical abortion can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000 or more. A medical abortion can cost between $50 to $200. It is important to consult a veterinarian to determine the best dog option and get an accurate cost estimate.

How late can puppies be aborted?

As late as 45 days into the pregnancy because after this point, the risk of complications increases. It is important to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible if you are considering an abortion for your dog.

Are there any home remedies to stop dog pregnancy?

No, there are no safe or effective home remedies to stop dog pregnancy. Only a vet can provide good advice on how best to stop a dog’s pregnancy.

What are the side effects of a dog abortion injection?

The side effects of a dog abortion injection can include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

Is there a Plan B for dogs?

No, there is no Plan B medication specifically for dogs. It is important to consult a veterinarian to determine the best action. If you are concerned about an unplanned pregnancy in your dog, consider all your options.

Is dog abortion painful?

In general, surgical abortions get performed under anesthesia. Medical abortions can cause cramping and discomfort for the dog, but you can give them pain medication.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, a dog can have an abortion, but it should only happen if needed. Prevention is a far better option. It is important to consult a veterinarian to determine the best action.

Pet owners should prevent unplanned pregnancies by spaying or neutering their dogs. That helps control the pet population and has health benefits for the dog, such as reducing the risk of certain cancers and infections.

Pet owners should always prioritize the health and well-being of their dogs and seek professional guidance when making important decisions regarding their health care.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.