Many pets get pregnant accidentally against the wishes of their owners. Pet owners should know that finding a bitch in estrus with a male dog does not mean that the two have mated. In fact, most of the bitches that dog owners take to the veterinarian for pregnancy termination treatment are not pregnant. This article outlines all the pregnancy treatment options including the morning after pill for dogs.

Is There Morning After Pill for Dogs?

The answer is yes and no. The availability depends on the veterinarian. The morning-after pill for dogs varies across countries just like the pill in humans. Your vet will first determine if your dog has bred. Successful mating in dogs takes about 30 minutes. Your vet will perform a vaginal cytology to determine if your dog is in heat. If she is in heat but she ran away several days ago, she shouldn't be bred. However, the presence of sperm cells during the cytology indicates that she has already bred.

The available “morning after” pill

The "morning after" pills for dogs mainly uses estrogens to prevent the migration and implantation of fertilized eggs in the uterus. The drugs work when administered immediately after unplanned breeding. You cannot confirm pregnancy at this stage. There are 2 most common used estrogens:

  • Estradiol cypionate (ECP) 

  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES). Bear in mind the injectable form of DES was removed from the market while its oral form is not that effective in terminating pregnancy.

Your dog is susceptible to severe side effects including:

  • Infertility

  • Pyometra: The uterine infection does not respond to antibiotic and so spaying is often required

  • Bone marrow suppression: The condition causes low platelet counts, low levels of white blood cells, and severe anemia. It occurs between two weeks and two months of administering estrogens. The condition is irreversible and fatal.

Other Methods of Ending an Unwanted Pregnancy

Pet owners can use alternative methods to the morning after pill for dogs to terminate unwanted pregnancy:

After pregnancy is confirmed

The progesterone hormone is required to maintain a pregnancy. Prostaglandins reduce progesterone levels, which leads to pregnancy termination or abortionThe prostaglandin treatment takes four to seven days to work and it is highly recommended to hospitalize a pet during the treatment. Cloprostenol and Lutalyse (PGF) are the commonly used prostaglandins.

Prostaglandins are safer than estrogens and recommended by many veterinarians. But your dog may not be sensitive to the drug and hence it may not work. What's more, pyometra is the most severe side effect of this treatment. No fertility cases have been reported so far after administering prostaglandins. Another adverse effect of the drugs is potential failure in terminating pregnancy or terminating the pregnancy in part. 


Later in pregnancy

Glucocorticoids can be administered at later stages of gestation but they are not consistently effective in terminating pregnancy. It is still unclear how these drugs work to terminate pregnancy. Dexamethasone is most commonly used glucocorticoid.

The aborted babies are pushed out of the uterus, which can be traumatic for the dog and the owner. The temporary side effects of glucocorticoids include increased thirst and urination after the treatment is over.


Permanent solution -- spaying

A spay surgery is a major surgery that removes the uterus and the ovaries to prevent pregnancy. A dog can be spayed any time from eight weeks to her first heat to gain the best health benefits. Your dog will feel the effects for a few days or a week. 

  • The first heat varies in breeds and occurs around six months of age. If spaying is performed at the early pregnancy stages, the formative cell clusters that develop into fetuses and eventually to puppies are also removed. 

  • Spaying during pregnancy is associated with more risks than regular spaying because the blood vessels serving the uterus and ovaries become enlarged. During pregnancy, the vessels carry more blood that makes them more prone to bleeding and harder to sew off. Spaying during pregnancy takes longer than the standard spaying procedure. Spaying during pregnancy leaves a longer scar that normal spaying.

Know If Your Baby Is in Heat

Knowing when your dog is in heat is necessary if you do not want to terminate an unwanted pregnancy or spay it. Watch them closely in this period and consult your vet where necessary. Unspayed female goes in heat two times in a year, that is, every six months but this varies with individual dog and breed. Here are the symptoms a dog in heat will show, which can be divided in 3 stages:

First stage

Your dog’s vulva at this stage looks larger or swollen and the change is accompanied by increased urination and bloody vaginal discharge. You may notice behavioral changes including being on the edge or jumpy. Your dog may keep its tail close to the body, become clingy, and show no signs that it wants to breed.


Second stage

Your dog is ready to breed at this stage. The vaginal discharge becomes brownish or clear. Your dog moves its tail to the side, and is available to male dogs. This sign of fertility is called flagging. Be aware that your dog is at risk of pyometra at this stage. See your vet immediately if you notice pus-like discharge from the dog’s vulva.


Final stage

Your dog is no longer interested in mating in this stage. The vulva shrinks back to its normal size and the discharge disappears. However, your dog may behave as if she is pregnant. If you suspect the dog is pregnant, see your vet before administering the morning after pill for dogs. Your doctor will confirm if the dog is pregnant or not.


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