How Do I Know If My Dog Is Pregnant?

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Pregnant?

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.

This article throws light on signs of dog pregnancy, the tests needed and everything else about it. So, let’s start. Remember that canine gestation lasts around 63 days or 2 months.

How to tell if a dog is pregnant?

If you have been wondering how to know if a dog is pregnant, the good news is that there are quite a few signs and symptoms that show up gradually. However, it is always advisable for dog owners to take their furry ones to the veterinarian as soon as possible, for confirmation.

Here goes some of the common symptoms to watch out for.

1. Changes in appetite

Because pregnancy brings about a lot of hormonal changes, your female dog might experience a lack of appetite in the first two weeks after gestation and eventually, feel an increased appetite in the later stages of the pregnancy.

This is a tell-tale sign to know if your dog is pregnant. Some dogs might also suffer from vomiting tendencies, as a result of which, they might tend to stay away from foods unless it is their favorite ground beef or rice mixed with kibble. Such changes in appetite are usually normal and you can consult a vet only if the dog has stopped eating for 2-3 days in a row.

2. Changes in size and color of nipples

If you are confused about how to know if a dog is pregnant, you must take a closer look at her breasts. The nipples of an unbred female dog are small with the area beneath them, feeling flat.

However, once your dog is pregnant, her nipples tend to get enlarged because they prepare for milk production and nursing with the milk glands developing right beneath the nipples. The color of the same, on the other hand, becomes more rosy and pinkish as a result of the increased blood flow around the area. These changes show up approximately two weeks from the conception.

3. Weight gain around the abdomen

The swollen abdomen is a hard-to-miss sign and soon, you can know if a dog is pregnant. Because the puppies grow rather fast, the waist area of your dog seems to thicken with her tummy literally filling out. However, this change in shape begins in the second trimester of her pregnancy and by then, you must have already taken her to the veterinarian.

4. Nesting behaviors

Much like humans, dogs prepare themselves psychologically once they are pregnant. If you find her engaged in activities like shredding the fabric or trying to prepare beddings for the future puppies, you have reasons to tell that your dog is pregnant. Make sure you have a whelping kit and a whelping box ready!

A pregnant dog typically becomes a bit more affectionate and protective. This is because hormones dictate most of their activities during this crucial phase.

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?

There is no concept of a home pregnancy test as a means to know if your dog is pregnant. This is because unlike humans, dogs produce different hormones when pregnant. That is why; there is no simple home pregnancy test that you can engage in.

In fact, going to the veterinarian to get a confirmation of your dog’s pregnancy is the only possible way. Even if there’s one particular test, it requires too much equipment and is, therefore, completely avoidable.

relaxin pregnancy dog test
Relaxin is the hormone that is measured by canine pregnancy tests.

How to confirm a dog's pregnancy?

If you want to know if your dog is pregnant right at home, you will have to engage in a very complicated procedure that involves blood extraction and separating it from the plasma, which requires a lot of skills. Consequently, confirming your dog’s pregnancy through a visit to the vet and subsequent examinations is what you should aim at. The vet performs all or any of the following tests:

Abdominal Ultrasound

An abdominal ultrasound is the earliest recommended test to know if a dog is pregnant. The scanning can be done on a female dog without sedation and it is not painful at all. The vet usually clips the fur on the tummy of the very furry dogs because otherwise, the machine is unable to make the required contact with her skin.

The advantage of abdominal ultrasound is that it allows the vet to see if the puppies are healthy enough from the 20th or 22nd day after breeding week onwards and you will quickly know if your dog is pregnant. However, the equipment as well as the operator must be skilled enough for an accurate test.

Relaxin Test

The relaxin test is a blood test to know if your dog is pregnant. In this test, the veterinarian collects a sample of blood from your dog’s body and measures the level of the hormone called relaxin in it. This hormone is actually the result of implantation of the embryo and it is produced by the placenta.

However, if the breeding dates are not known, the vet recommends to carry out the relaxin test twice. This is because; a false negative result can occur if the test is performed too early, even before the placenta has started producing the hormone. That is why; you need to confirm the negative result one week after with the tests.


The best thing about this test is that the vet can carry it out on your dog much early, from 22 days of her pregnancy. However, because the relaxin test involves two separate tests, the costs can end up being too high. Also, conducting two tests is necessary as a means of separating the chances of real pregnancy from a false one or what we call a pseudopregnancy.

Abdomen Pressing

When you take your dog to the vet, the first thing he does will be pressing on her stomach to detect the movements, if any. A skilled vet, with this process, can immediately count the litter size while also letting you know if your dog is pregnant.

As a downside, the process should be carefully undertaken because the stomach of the dog might be too swollen and therefore, might hurt.

When does a pregnant dog need to see a vet?

The earlier you take your dog to a vet, the better it is for her health. This is because; the veterinarian will perform certain tests and exams to become sure of her pregnancy first. As such, if your dog is not pregnant, that is it is a dog false pregnancy with similar symptoms, there are chances of some other illnesses, which must be treated immediately.

On the other hand, if the vet confirms your dog’s pregnancy, you should start taking the necessary steps towards helping her go through a safe and healthy pregnancy. The veterinarian will be the one to guide you on the subsequent tasks, like recommending a diet, prescribing medicines depending on your dog’s condition and so on.

Once all the tests and medications are sorted, your dog will largely be able to handle this phase all by herself while you ensure providing her with the best-possible nutrition, care, security and a stress-free environment.

With all this information, you might have become aware of how to know if your dog is pregnant. Remember that dog pregnancies are short, about 63 days only, so it is necessary that you act fast and provide her with all the care she needs to give birth to healthy, beautiful puppies.