Caring for a pregnant poodle will be a gratifying experience that will come with a lot of responsibility and attention. You’ll want to understand everything about what your dog is going through, the stages of pregnancy, and how to best support them throughout.
How do you care for a pregnant poodle? Your veterinarian will confirm that your poodle is pregnant. Her pregnancy will last around 9 weeks, and during that time she will need extra love, attention, appropriate exercise, and nutritional supplements that will help keep your poodle and her-soon-to-be pups healthy.
Keep in mind that this will be about more than just your care for your poodle. It will also require adjustments for you in your routines, preparing, and making sure you are ready for the new poodle arrivals as well.
Confirming Your Poodle is Pregnant
This will be the same for any type of poodle. Whether you have a standard, miniature, or toy poodle, their pregnancies will last around 63 days (or 9 weeks), and you will need to see your veterinarian to confirm everything is going as it should.
Those 63 days are measured from ovulation to birth. The day that they release their eggs is when ovulation begins. She will go through three trimesters, all about 21 days long, before giving birth.
Signs Your Poodle is Pregnant
Since you’re not typically going to get ultrasounds or x-rays for your furry family member on a regular basis, it is up to you to first understand the indicators that may mean she is pregnant.
It’s important to keep in mind that your poodle can become pregnant at any age after her first heat. It doesn’t matter how young she is, which seems strange, but it’s true and happens in many cases. After that first heat, if she is not spayed, she could potentially have heat cycles her entire life.
Knowing the signs of pregnancy:
Your poodle may slow down a bit and need some extra sleep. If you notice her taking more naps, not wanting to go for walks as frequently or letting you sleep in longer than usual, take note. This could be a sign she realizes her body needs more rest to care for her unborn pup.
- Big Belly:
Because poodles have a much shorter pregnancy term, you will see physical evidence of the pregnancy much sooner than you do in humans. Roughly around week two, the stomach will become firmer. By week four, you will see noticeable swelling.
- Increased Hygiene:
Cleanliness will be of utmost importance to your expectant poodle. She will be cleaning herself more frequently and more vigorously. She knows what’s coming and is doing everything she can to help her pup come out healthy and clean.
- Increased Appetite:
To accommodate for the pups inside of her, her appetite will increase. She may start wanting more frequent meals and will probably be slightly irritable if she is feeling hungry.
You may begin noticing her favorite toys have all huddled together in a corner together, or what appears to be the early makings of a blanket fort under the kitchen table. This is your pup showing maternal instincts. This is a beautifully primal action she is taking to ready the home for her new pup. She is building a nest and preparing her territory for the newcomer. This is not only cute to watch, but it’s also a pretty special moment seeing a motherly instinct in your dog.
- Inverted Nipples:
Don’t be scared if you notice a nipple that wasn’t there before. Fear not; she is not growing nipples. These are inverted nipples that are very normal to go unseen until she becomes pregnant, which is when they will pop out.
- Minor Discharge:
This is another one that can be alarming but is totally normal. Around week 4 or 5 you may notice minor to moderate clear discharge. Monitor how much and how frequent, and if it becomes heavier or looks abnormal, reach out to your vet.
- Morning Sickness:
Yup, even dogs get it, although it’s rarer than in women. It also typically only lasts a few days in the 3rd or 4th week. It can be caused by hormonal changes, which is what also affects their energy levels and appetite. If your girl throws up in the morning, just give her small meals throughout the day and make sure she is drinking plenty of water.
Tips for Hydrating: Some dogs just don’t like drinking a lot of water. But if she is getting sick, you need to make sure she is replenishing her fluids.
1 – Adding a tiny bit of bone or chicken broth can go a long way for a dog. The smell will entice her and give it just enough flavor to spark her interest. Just make sure it is homemade or organic, so you know she is only getting good, natural broth.
2- You can also give them ice cubes. This will be fun for them because it is something different, and they can chew on it as well.
All poodles will react differently during pregnancy. It is essential to be aware of all the possible signs to have the appropriate reaction. A dog that seems more tired than usual and who’s eating a little more doesn’t mean they’re pregnant. But if that is paired with a firm belly and protruding nipples, then it’s time to consider they’re pregnant.
With any dog, if you start to notice multiple changes in their appearance, mood, or activity levels, you should monitor and, if necessary, talk to your vet to make sure there is no illness or injury affecting these changes. Considering if they’re pregnant will be a part of that.
Confirming with Your Vet
If you started to notice multiple warnings signs and you think your poodle may be pregnant, you will want to get them to your vet as soon as possible. If you know the date that she mated, it is wise to bring her in for a checkup about 2-3 weeks after that date.
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Your Veterinarian will be able to:
• Perform a prenatal exam
• Give tips on nutrition and food
• Let you know if any further tests are needed
• Treat any parasites, if found
There are also different timeframes to keep in mind when your vet tests your poodle for pregnancy. These are the three most common tests for pregnancy and how many days after conception they can be performed:
|28 – 30 days||30 days||45 days|
All three of these methods are safe, accurate, and commonly used. The reason the X-Ray takes a bit longer is that the new pup will not show up on there until the bones are formed. You can also use this as a method to see how many puppies will be in the litter.
Typically, by that point, pregnancy will already be confirmed through other methods. A vet can even tell by feeling the dog’s stomach around week four in most cases. But the X-Ray is an excellent way to see how their growth is progressing and is crucial to understanding how many pups there are.
“Their skeletons are not mineralized enough to see until at least 45 days, and usually it is recommended to wait until 50 to 55 days of pregnancy to give the most accurate count. Knowing how many puppies to expect is important, so you know if she has finished with labor or if there may be a puppy stuck in the birth canal.” – Dr. Jessica Romine on Care.com
The blood test will basically show elevated levels of the hormone, relaxin. It is smart to get a blood test done during a dog’s pregnancy anyways to make sure all levels seem normal across the board. Speak with your vet about what type of panel would be most appropriate for them.
Caring for Your Poodle During Pregnancy
Once you know your poodle is pregnant and have gone through the proper exams and tests to be sure she is healthy and happy, it is time to get the home ready and begin your regiment of daily care for her.
Poodles are incredibly loyal, intelligent, and alert. This makes them excellent mothers, and also helps them get ready for motherhood. They are highly instinctual on top of it all. So, there is some good news in there for you, as her caretaker. She will take care of a lot of this on her own. Like in their nesting moments, they inherently know how to be mothers.
She will still need support from you, and you will need to adjust how you do some activities with her, but her instincts will take over when it comes to a lot of this.
Exercise for your Pregnant Poodle
Any healthy dog, no matter the breed, needs a lot of exercise and stimulation. With a pregnant poodle, this shouldn’t change. The only major change you will want to make is to exclude any high-impact or intense activity.
In general, poodles are highly active and love to be physically and mentally stimulated. But they’re not typically going to be going on long hikes with you, nor running long distances. So their exercise is already relatively low to moderate impact.
While she is pregnant, you will want to really make sure to eliminate anything too intense from her daily activity. But daily walks and mild playtime will be great for her. Purina recommends three to five short walks per day.
Walking is low impact, gets her fresh air, and bonding time with you. As she gets ready to be a mother, she still needs to feel that bond and closeness to you. It is a way of showing her support during her pregnancy.
Walking will also help keep her heart healthy and maintain muscle mass. She needs her body to be in top shape to be ready for labor. Leading up to labor, she will also want her body to be healthy so she can feel her best during times that will be tougher. This will not be a comfortable few months leading up to the birth. But slow, short walks will make her feel better and stay healthy.
With an increased appetite in pregnant poodles, moderate exercise daily will also help keep off extra, unwanted pounds. She will, of course, gain weight during this process. But the key is to make sure she is maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Sudden weight gain from eating too much and not exercising enough is not balanced.
Keep an eye on her weight and speak with your vet about healthy weight ranges throughout her pregnancy. Make sure exercise is a top priority, and she gets all the fresh air and activity that she needs.
Remember, she may also be a bit more lethargic. So this is one of the times you will have to take the reins. While her instincts may tell her that she needs to be active, her body may not always react accordingly.
We all need an extra push from time to time when it comes to getting outdoors and being active. This is no different. Your dog is going to rely on you to encourage her and help her stay active during this time, even if she may not be feeling like keeping up with her daily walks and exercise.
Pregnant Poodle Nutrition
Just like humans, the appetite, tastes, and needs for your dog’s food will shift. While she will be hungrier, she also needs to make sure all her nutritional needs get met.
“Good nutrition sets the stage for successful breeding and pregnancy.” -Robin Downing, DVM, CVPP, CCRP, DAAPM
You shouldn’t just plan to toss some extra food down at each meal and be done with it. Think about how you eat and the changes you make based on what your goal is. If you want to gain muscle, you will probably add protein. If you’re going to lose weight, you might eliminate empty carbs.
For your pregnant poodle, balance and nutrition are essential. Puppies and kittens stay on a special diet for their first year of life because their bodies need particular nutrients to help make sure they are growing properly. So why shouldn’t pregnant moms be any different? They are growing a puppy inside of them, and they need proper nutrition to keep themselves healthy, which also helps keep the puppy healthy.
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Any extra medicine should be avoided if possible, during the dog’s pregnancy. A monthly topical flea, tick, or heartworm medication would be one of the exceptions. This should be continued as it will help prevent your dog from passing anything along to the newborn pups, and it is entirely safe. Always speak with your vet about these decisions first.
By giving your dog some extra protein during pregnancy, you will be helping her in a few different areas. Protein gives extra energy, which will be welcomed and appreciated by your pregnant poodle. It also promotes healthy, strong muscles. Since she may not be up for the same level of exercise she was getting before, this can help her maintain muscle mass, so her body is ready for labor. She will also feel full faster, so it will help her keep a healthy weight while still getting all the food and nutrients she needs.
The American Kennel Club recommends this breakdown of nutrients:
“As a guideline, choose a highly digestible, very palatable commercial diet. It should contain at least 29 percent protein and 17 percent fat. High amounts of soluble carbohydrates and a low fiber content are important to ensure adequate energy intake and to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in late pregnancy. Adequate intake of calcium (between 1 and 1.8 percent) and phosphorous (between .8 and 1.6 percent) intake is important for adequate milk production by the bitch so that the pups’ bones form properly.”
When you speak with your vet, they will have recommendations on the actual type of dog feed you are feeding her as well. You want to make sure the brand is trustworthy and uses all-natural ingredients. If you can go with an organic option, it will help maintain the integrity of the food and ingredients.
Your vet will make sure the type of food is well-balanced and explicitly geared towards pregnant dogs. The vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients are all crucial factors in making sure mom and pups are all healthy throughout the pregnancy and after birth.
Healthy Weight Gain for Pregnant Poodles
It is considered healthy for a little weight gain from poodles during their pregnancy. But you don’t want it to get out of hand. The extra weight from the pups will already be causing additional stress on joints and make things a little harder on your mom-to-be.
So making sure additional and unnecessary pounds stay off will be crucial to her health and happiness. If she gains around 25–30% of her ideal weight by the time she gives birth, this is entirely healthy.
Note that it is 25-30% of her ideal weight. Ideal is the keyword here. If your dog was already over or underweight, adjust that number accordingly. When you speak with your vet, ask about their ideal weight. This is something you hopefully already know, as it is essential for your dog’s lifespan and overall health.
Once you confirm what their ideal weight is, you can also figure out what their ideal pregnant weight is. This is also something your vet will know, but it is essential for you to understand it so you can monitor it at home.
While highly intelligent and instinctual, I don’t think many poodles will hop on the scale in the morning to do a weight check-in. This one is up to you.
Preparing for the Birth
If you are planning on having the puppies at home, you will want to be prepared for every situation and ready to bring them to the vet at any moment if there are complications. Speak with your vet ahead of time on birthing practices and things to be prepared for.
This is not something you want to have to improvise during. Having a checklist, a plan, and everything ready will be paramount to the healthy birth of the new pups. If you have to take your dog to the vet for the delivery at any point, that is something to prepare for, as well.
Taking Them to the Vet
This is not an ideal situation if she has begun the labor process but may be needed if something goes wrong and medical attention is required. If you have an extra person with you, this will all be much easier.
It is a scary moment for the mom, and she will want someone comforting her, while someone else is driving. You also want to make sure she is safe and secure in the car in case of sudden stops or accidents.
Keeping her in a crate with lots of towels and blankets will be the safest way to go. Just make sure to have a plan ready in case you need to transport her, although hopefully, you won’t have the need.
The Poodle Home Birth Checklist
Provided everything is going well, you will be able to do everything right in your home where your dog will be most comfortable and feel safe in her own territory. Miniature poodles do have a higher chance of needing a C-Section than standard poodles, but in most cases, a home birth will be just fine.
Make sure you have everything you need on-hand and ready to go at any point once you are nearing the expected date.
- Sheets, towels, and any “comfort” or “safety” blankets that your dog loves
- Heating pad
- Floss or thread
- Suction bulb
- Whelping box
- Having a helper
Number 7 may be tricky if you live alone. But if you have a close friend or family member that doesn’t live far, it is a good idea to have them prepared as well in knowing what to expect and let them know you may be calling on them to come help at a moment’s notice.
Have a few people on standby, is possible, so you can have some options and not be left alone. It is entirely doable to do on your own, but it never hurts to have that extra set of hands there. The main thing to remember for the actual pregnancy is that you can never be too prepared.
There is no such thing as having too many clean towels ready or not enough help. If you go overboard with the prep, it just means some extra supplies. If you under prepare, it could affect the actual birth and the comfort of the mom and puppies.
The Stages of Birth for your Pregnant Poodle
It will be important to understand how these stages work so that you know exactly what is going on and how you can help throughout. The total time of labor for poodles can be anywhere from about 4 hours to 18 hours.
There are signs your poodle is about to give birth:
5.Whining or Crying
Do not feed your dog during this stage. If a C-Section is needed, any food in her stomach can complicate it. She may also be panting, in which case offering her freshwater is helpful and totally safe.
This is the actual birth stage. Each new pup will be born in his/her own little amniotic sac. Typically, it will rupture after passing the birth canal, but it may not do so on its own. So be ready to tear it open yourself if it is still intact.
Mom will begin licking the new pups in order to clear their breathing passages. You may need to use the suction bulb to help stimulate breathing if this isn’t kickstarting their breathing. It will help remove fluids from their nasal passages.
Throughout this stage, you are there mostly to supervise. Mom needs to do a lot of this on her own, and it is best to let her but be ready to step in whenever required.
Once all puppies are out, she will enter the final stage where her uterus will fully contract and expel any remaining placenta and other liquids. Once this has happened, it is essential to clean the area, but also allow the new mom and her pups space and time they need together.
Place the heating pay under a couple of blankets underneath them so they can feel the heat but not be burned by it. Your job during stage three is to stay vigilant and make sure mom and babies are healthy, comfortable, and happy.
Meeting the New Puppies
Your new mom will be exhausted and will need rest. But her maternal instincts will also kick in, and she will want to protect, feed, and bathe her newborns. As much as you’re just going to want to scoop up mom and her new pups to cuddle them, give them their time. Once mom gets her bonding time, you can get yours.
Make sure mom and pups all get vet visits afterward to make sure she is in good health post-birth, and the puppies get their first vaccinations and schedules for second or third rounds.
Continue to monitor her activity levels, weight, and appetite, and enjoy your time with your new poodle pups.
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