There are 3 main stages of canine labor.
During the first stage of labor the cervix will dilate and contractions will begin. This element of Poodle labor can be painful and a dog may express this by:
- Acting restless
- Vomiting (should be acute)
- Crying and/or whining
It is very important that you do not feed her during this stage. If there is a need for an emergency C-section, her stomach will need to be void of any food. If she appears very thirsty, and she may due to extreme panting, you can offer cool water. It is not uncommon for a Poodle to vomit when labors begins; however this should be acute. A Poodle will be in labor for as few as 4 hours to as many as 18 hours.
This is the stage in which the puppies will be born. In some cases, a gush of fluid may be expelled before the first pup is birthed. Each puppy is born encased in his/her own amniotic sac. In some cases, it will ruptures as the puppy passes through the birth canal. In other cases, it will be intact and as soon as the newborn pup emerges, the dam will tear it open.
If she does not do this, it must be done by the owner. She will then chew off the umbilical cord and lick the pup to clear breathing passages and to stimulate breathing. If the dam does not do this, the suction bulb must be used to clear fluid from both the nasal passages and the mouth of the newborn. Breathing is stimulated by gently rubbing a finger over the chest and back.
Puppies are born one at a time and the time between each being pushed out may be as few as 5 minutes or as long as 60 minutes after forceful straining. A puppy is not always necessarily born head first. Some are born feet first and in some instances, sideways. It is best to not interfere and allow this natural process to play out. However, If a pup appears to be stuck halfway out, you can assist by gently pulling in a downward and rearward arcing motion.
It is normal for the dam to ingest all tissue that are expelled. This includes the placenta, sacs and umbilical cord.
Once all the puppies have been born the dog enters this 3rd stage of labor during which time the uterus contracts fully, expelling any remaining placenta, blood and fluid.
Once you are sure that all puppies have been pushed out, you can then begin cleaning the area. Once everything is clean, allow her and her pups to cuddle and snuggle on a new and clean sheets or blankets. A heating pad should be placed under the sheets or blanket; do not allow pups to lie directly on the heating pad. A close eye must be kept on everyone. Often a tiny newborn will have trouble crawling over to the dam and will need some assistance getting close enough to suckle.