How to Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant

Filed in Dog Health on August 1, 2021

Have you noticed changes in your female dog? Many owners wonder how to tell if their dog is pregnant. The average length of a dog pregnancy is between 62 and 64 days. Because this is a pretty short pregnancy, knowing what to look for is essential to make sure you and your dog are prepared. This vet-written article will discuss how to tell if your dog is pregnant, what changes to look for and the tests that can be done to confirm it. Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is general in nature and should not be used for diagnosing your dog’s specific condition and is not a substitute for professional care. You should consult with your veterinarian. General Signs of Pregnancy While the signs of pregnancy may vary greatly among individual dogs, here are some general signs how to tell if your dog is pregnant: Weight gain and an enlarged abdomen Changes in size and color of nipples Clear vaginal discharge Vomiting Changes in appetite Changes in behavior It is important to note that these signs don’t always mean that your dog is pregnant. Many medical conditions have similar symptoms. If you notice these symptoms, make an appointment to have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian. Weight gain and enlarged abdomen In the early stages of pregnancy, dogs show very few signs that they are pregnant. The first thing you typically notice is weight gain or a slight enlargement of the abdomen. These changes usually occur in the later stages of pregnancy. Changes in size and color of nipples In these later stages of pregnancy, you may also notice your dog’s nipples are more prominent and pink. This change is due to increased blood flow to the nipple as your dog’s body prepares to nurse puppies. As they get closer to giving birth, the mammary glands will also become enlarged and fill with milk. A clear discharge from the nipple may be observed. Just before delivery, you may even see a few drops of milk. Vaginal Discharge Around the third week of pregnancy, it is normal to see clear vaginal discharge. Any discharge that is not clear or has a foul odor is abnormal and indicates a medical issue. If the discharge is abnormal, set up an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Vomiting and changes in appetite Just like humans experience morning sickness, pregnancy can cause nausea and vomiting in dogs as well. These symptoms can lead to decreased appetite, which typically occurs between the third and fifth week of pregnancy. Not all dogs will experience vomiting, and some owners report that they notice an increase in their pet’s appetite, so this can be a very unreliable indicator of pregnancy. Decreases in appetite are the most common indication that your pet is not feeling well. If you notice this change, always consult with your veterinarian. Changes in behavior Other changes in behavior can vary significantly among individual dogs. Some dogs show more affection toward their owner when they become pregnant, while others become more irritable and spend more time on their own. Nesting behavior is very common in the late stages of pregnancy and is a good indication that puppies may be arriving soon. False pregnancy Dogs can experience a false pregnancy, where their body shows all the signs of being pregnant, but they aren’t pregnant. During a false pregnancy, dogs can even experience large mammary glands and produce milk. This occurs because of high levels of hormones that are produced during the reproductive cycle. These hormones help prepare the body for pregnancy. In most cases, the pregnancy symptoms that the dog is experiencing will resolve in a few weeks as the hormone levels return to normal. In some cases, the symptoms don't resolve as easily, and medical intervention is necessary. Diagnostic Testing If you suspect your dog is pregnant, it is a good idea to set up an appointment with your veterinarian. Depending on the stage of the pregnancy, there are several tests your veterinarian can perform to tell if your dog is pregnant and how far along they are. If you’re looking how to tell if your dog is pregnant, your vet may use one or more of the following: Blood Testing Certain hormones are only produced when a dog is pregnant. The hormone commonly tested for in dogs is called relaxin. It can be detected in pregnant dogs as early as 22 days after breeding but is more reliable around day 30. Early testing can sometimes lead to a negative test result even though your dog is pregnant. In this case, your veterinarian may need a repeat the relaxin test in 7 days or perform other diagnostic tests to confirm a pregnancy. Palpation Your veterinarian may be able to feel the puppies by gently pressing on the outside of your dog’s abdomen. This technique is called palpation. Growing puppies are very fragile and can be harmed if this process is not done carefully. Palpation should only be performed by a veterinarian. Whether or not your veterinarian will be able to feel the puppies may depend on your dog’s size and body condition. The best time for your veterinarian to feel for puppies is between the fourth and fifth week of pregnancy. Ultrasound An ultrasound is the most reliable way to tell if your dog is pregnant and get information about the health of the puppies. Growing puppies can be seen on ultrasound when the mother is around three weeks pregnant. Ultrasounds are used to measure the size of puppies and observe their heartbeat. Special calculations are used to determine the approximate age of the puppies based on the ultrasound measurements. While the ultrasound can give you a general idea of how many puppies your dog may be carrying, it is not the best method to determine an exact puppy count. The ultrasound provides a very small window into your dog’s abdomen as the veterinarian moves the probe in different directions to get a better look. Puppies can sometimes be double-counted or out of the visual reach of the ultrasound probe. X-rays X-rays are helpful during the later stages of pregnancy. As the puppies’ skeletons begin to calcify, their bones will be visible on X-ray images. X-rays are the best way to get an accurate count of the puppies. Unlike ultrasound, an X-ray cannot give you any information about the health of the puppies. Conclusion on How to Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant How to tell if your dog is pregnant can be a tricky process. Dogs may experience different symptoms, and false pregnancy can lead to confusion. There are diagnostic tests that your veterinarian can run to determine if your dog is pregnant and provide you with important information about the puppies. I hope this information will help you identify the signs of pregnancy and when to seek out your veterinarian.

Have you noticed changes in your female dog? Many owners wonder how to tell if their dog is pregnant. The average length of a dog pregnancy is between 62 and 64 days.

Because a dog’s pregnancy is pretty short, knowing what to look for is essential to make sure you and your dog are prepared.

This vet-written article will discuss how to tell if your dog is pregnant, what changes to look for and the tests that can be done to confirm it.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is general in nature and should not be used for diagnosing your dog’s specific condition and is not a substitute for professional care. You should consult with your veterinarian.

General Signs of Pregnancy

While the signs of pregnancy may vary greatly among individual dogs, here are some general signs how to tell if your dog is pregnant:

  • Weight gain and an enlarged abdomen
  • Changes in size and color of nipples
  • Clear vaginal discharge
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in behavior

It is important to note that these signs don’t always mean that your dog is pregnant. Many medical conditions have similar symptoms. If you notice these symptoms, make an appointment to have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian.

1. Weight Gain and Enlarged Abdomen

Pregnant dog

In the early stages of pregnancy, dogs show very few signs that they are pregnant. The first thing you typically notice is weight gain or a slight enlargement of the abdomen. These changes usually occur in the later stages of pregnancy.

2. Changes in Size and Color of Nipples

In these later stages of pregnancy, you may also notice your dog’s nipples are more prominent and pink. This change is due to increased blood flow to the nipple as your dog’s body prepares to nurse puppies.

As they get closer to giving birth, the mammary glands will also become enlarged and fill with milk. A clear discharge from the nipple may be observed. Just before delivery, you may even see a few drops of milk.

3. Vaginal Discharge

Around the third week of pregnancy, it is normal to see clear vaginal discharge. Any discharge that is not clear or has a foul odor is abnormal and indicates a medical issue.

If the discharge is abnormal, set up an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

4. Vomiting and Changes in Appetite

Just like humans experience morning sickness, pregnancy can cause nausea and vomiting in dogs as well. These symptoms can lead to decreased appetite, which typically occurs between the third and fifth week of pregnancy.

Not all dogs will experience vomiting, and some owners report that they notice an increase in their pet’s appetite, so this can be a very unreliable indicator of pregnancy.

Decreases in appetite are the most common indication that your pet is not feeling well. If you notice this change, always consult with your veterinarian.

5. Changes in Behavior

angry small dog

Other changes in behavior can vary significantly among individual dogs. Some dogs show more affection toward their owner when they become pregnant, while others become more irritable and spend more time on their own.

Nesting behavior is very common in the late stages of pregnancy and is a good indication that puppies may be arriving soon.

False Pregnancy

Dogs can experience a false pregnancy, where their body shows all the signs of being pregnant, but they aren’t pregnant. During a false pregnancy, dogs can even experience large mammary glands and produce milk.

This occurs because of high levels of hormones that are produced during the reproductive cycle. These hormones help prepare the body for pregnancy.

In most cases, the pregnancy symptoms that the dog is experiencing will resolve in a few weeks as the hormone levels return to normal. In some cases, the symptoms don’t resolve as easily, and medical intervention is necessary.

Diagnostic Testing

If you suspect your dog is pregnant, it is a good idea to set up an appointment with your veterinarian.

Depending on the stage of the pregnancy, there are several tests your veterinarian can perform to tell if your dog is pregnant and how far along they are.

If you’re looking how to tell if your dog is pregnant, your vet may use one or more of the following:

Blood Testing

Certain hormones are only produced when a dog is pregnant. The hormone commonly tested for in dogs is called relaxin. It can be detected in pregnant dogs as early as 22 days after breeding but is more reliable around day 30.

Early testing can sometimes lead to a negative test result even though your dog is pregnant. In this case, your veterinarian may need a repeat the relaxin test in 7 days or perform other diagnostic tests to confirm a pregnancy.

Palpation

Your veterinarian may be able to feel the puppies by gently pressing on the outside of your dog’s abdomen. This technique is called palpation.

Growing puppies are very fragile and can be harmed if this process is not done carefully. Palpation should only be performed by a veterinarian.

Whether or not your veterinarian will be able to feel the puppies may depend on your dog’s size and body condition. The best time for your veterinarian to feel for puppies is between the fourth and fifth week of pregnancy.

Ultrasound

dog having ultrasound in veterinary clinic

An ultrasound is the most reliable way to tell if your dog is pregnant and get information about the health of the puppies. Growing puppies can be seen on ultrasound when the mother is around three weeks pregnant.

Ultrasounds are used to measure the size of puppies and observe their heartbeat. Special calculations are used to determine the approximate age of the puppies based on the ultrasound measurements.

While the ultrasound can give you a general idea of how many puppies your dog may be carrying, it is not the best method to determine an exact puppy count.

The ultrasound provides a very small window into your dog’s abdomen as the veterinarian moves the probe in different directions to get a better look. Puppies can sometimes be double-counted or out of the visual reach of the ultrasound probe.

X-rays

X-rays are helpful during the later stages of pregnancy. As the puppies’ skeletons begin to calcify, their bones will be visible on X-ray images. X-rays are the best way to get an accurate count of the puppies.

Unlike ultrasound, an X-ray cannot give you any information about the health of the puppies.

Conclusion on How to Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant

How to tell if your dog is pregnant can be a tricky process. Dogs may experience different symptoms, and false pregnancy can lead to confusion.

There are diagnostic tests that your veterinarian can run to determine if your dog is pregnant and provide you with important information about the puppies.

I hope this information will help you identify the signs of pregnancy and when to seek out your veterinarian.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *