Whether breeding takes place accidentally or by choice, how to know if my dog is pregnant is a common question most owners and breeders have.
It is difficult but imperative to know if the dog is pregnant right from the early days of gestation because she needs treatment and care from this very stage.
How to tell if a dog is pregnant?
If you’re wondering how to tell if your dog is pregnant, there are several signs and symptoms you can look out for. However, it’s always a good idea to take your furry friend to the veterinarian for confirmation.
Here are some common symptoms to watch for:
1. Changes in appetite
During the first two weeks after conception, your female dog may experience a decrease in appetite, followed by an increase in appetite as the pregnancy progresses. If your dog stops eating for 2-3 days in a row, it’s a good idea to consult a vet. Some dogs may also experience vomiting tendencies but continue to enjoy their favorite foods like ground beef or rice mixed with kibble.
2. Changes in size and color of nipples
To determine if your dog is pregnant, take a closer look at her nipples. Unbred female dogs have small nipples that appear flat. However, when a dog becomes pregnant, her nipples will enlarge as they prepare for milk production and nursing. The color of the nipples may also become more rosy and pinkish due to increased blood flow. These changes typically occur around two weeks after conception.
3. Weight gain around the abdomen
A noticeable sign of pregnancy is a swollen abdomen, which becomes more prominent as the puppies grow. Your dog’s waist area will thicken, and her tummy will fill out. This change usually happens in the second trimester of pregnancy, so it’s important to have already taken your dog to the veterinarian by then.
4. Nesting behaviors
Similar to humans, dogs exhibit nesting behaviors when they are pregnant. If you observe your dog shredding fabric or trying to prepare bedding for future puppies, it’s a good indication that she is pregnant. Make sure you have a whelping kit and a whelping box ready to provide a comfortable birthing environment.
5. Less active
If your female dog is otherwise quite active, once pregnant, she will tend to be less active and often, get easily tired. It is again an early sign to know if your dog is pregnant. This is mostly because, during pregnancy, the hormone levels of your dog change to support the growing embryo. As a consequence, you will find your dog sleeping for a longer time than usual. However, the furry one will get used to these changing hormones towards the latter half of pregnancy.
6. Strange behavior
If you are not sure of how to know if your dog is pregnant, watch out for changes in her behavior, which are quite common. Again because of the unpredictable hormones, your dog might be confused about how she is feeling. As a result, she might tend to cling to you more, remaining around you always. Some dogs, on the contrary, might get grumpy and prefer to stay in seclusion. Such behavioral changes show up fast but mellow down eventually.
7. Mucus discharge
A clear mucus or vaginal discharge is common sign to know if your dog is pregnant. But there are certain factors that you must take into consideration.
Mucus discharge is not an early sign of dog pregnancy as such, because it doesn’t usually show up until about four weeks of gestation. That is why; if such discharge occurs before your dog is through the second trimester of her pregnancy, you must consult a vet without delay.
Also, it is only clear, colorless mucus that she will ideally discharge. If the mucus comes in the form of heavy blood discharge, with a bad odor, a tinge of blood or in any other color, then there are chances of an infection that your furry one may have caught during the dog heat cycle or after the mating.
Can you use a home pregnancy test on a dog?
The concept of using a home pregnancy test for dogs does not exist, mainly because dogs have different hormones when they’re pregnant compared to humans. This means that there isn’t a straightforward home test available.
Instead, the only reliable way to confirm your dog’s pregnancy is by visiting a veterinarian. While there is a specific test for this purpose, it requires specialized equipment and is not something you need to worry about as a pet owner.
How to confirm a dog’s pregnancy?
If you want to determine if your dog is pregnant at home, you would have to perform a complex procedure involving blood extraction and separating it from the plasma, which requires a high level of skill. Therefore, it is advisable to confirm your dog’s pregnancy by visiting a veterinarian and undergoing appropriate examinations. The vet may conduct one or more of the following tests:
An abdominal ultrasound is the earliest and recommended test to determine if a dog is pregnant. The scanning can be performed on a female dog without sedation, and it is completely painless. For dogs with long fur, the vet may need to trim the hair on their tummy so that the ultrasound machine can make proper contact with the skin.
The advantage of abdominal ultrasound is that it allows the vet to assess the health of the puppies from the 20th or 22nd day after breeding, providing a quick confirmation of pregnancy. However, it’s important for both the equipment and the operator to possess the necessary skills for accurate testing.
The relaxin test is a blood test that can determine if your dog is pregnant. During this test, the veterinarian collects a blood sample from your dog and measures the level of relaxin hormone present. The placenta produces this hormone as a result of embryo implantation.
If the breeding dates are unknown, the vet may recommend performing the relaxin test twice. This is because a false negative result can occur if the test is conducted too early, before the placenta has started producing the hormone. Therefore, it’s necessary to confirm a negative result one week later with additional tests.
The benefit of this test is that it can be conducted as early as 22 days into your dog’s pregnancy. However, since it requires two separate tests, the cost can be relatively high. Conducting two tests is crucial to differentiate between a genuine pregnancy and a false one, also known as pseudopregnancy.
Abdomen Pressing When you take your dog to the vet, one of the first things they will do is gently press on her stomach to detect any movements. A skilled vet can use this technique to estimate the litter size and determine if your dog is pregnant.
However, it’s important to be cautious during this process as the dog’s stomach may be swollen and sensitive, causing discomfort if handled improperly
When does a pregnant dog need to see a vet?
The earlier you take your dog to a veterinarian, the better it is for her health. This is because the veterinarian will perform certain tests and exams to confirm her pregnancy. If your dog is not pregnant and experiencing a false pregnancy with similar symptoms, there may be chances of other illnesses that need immediate treatment.
On the other hand, if the veterinarian confirms your dog’s pregnancy, you should start taking the necessary steps to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy. The veterinarian will guide you through the subsequent tasks, such as recommending a suitable diet and prescribing medications based on your dog’s condition.
Once all the tests and medications are sorted out, your dog will mostly handle this phase on her own while you provide her with the best possible nutrition, care, a secure environment, and minimize stress.
By now, you should have an understanding of how to determine if your dog is pregnant. Keep in mind that dog pregnancies are short, lasting about 63 days only. Therefore, it is essential to act quickly and provide her with all the care she needs to deliver healthy and beautiful puppies