Is my dog pregnant? How do you know if your dog is pregnant? Hearing my husband say he thinks the dog is pregnant came as a surprise. How can you tell?, I asked. He said our dog has been showing signs of being pregnant. We have not been trying to breed our dog at all, but during a recent thunder and lightening storm, our dog broke out of the fence while she was in heat. Signs? What signs? It makes sense that there would be symptoms exhibiting a dog is pregnant, but she didn’t look different to me, although she has been acting strange.
My initial shock at hearing that maybe our dog is pregnant wore off quickly, with thoughts racing through my mind about what in the world are we going to do with a pregnant dog and puppies on the way? Pregnant women have nine months to plan for labor and birth, but dogs are entirely another matter. How long are dogs pregnant?, I asked. About 60-62 days, give or take a week depending on the breed of dog, he replied. Sixty days?!
We have just three months to prepare for a pregnant dog giving birth to a litter of puppies?, I said. Well, unless it’s a false pregnancy, he said. Female dogs can have false pregnancies? Good grief. I am well aware of the four heat stages female “bitch” dogs experience, with fertile and non-fertile stages, and the fertile phase where dogs can become pregnant. Outward signs like vulvar swelling, bleeding, discharge etc in preparation of being receptive towards the neighborhood humper male dog wanting to breed a female dog without an owner’s consent.
Pregnant Dog Symptoms
If you are like me and want to know the signs your dog is pregnant and what symptoms pregnant dogs exhibit, here are a few symptoms that typically indicate a dog is pregnant within the first few weeks or months of pregnancy.
- Decreased appetite, unwillingness or refusal to eat in the early stages. Some recognize this symptom as being similar to morning sickness and nausea experienced by pregnant women. If your dog exhibits signs of having virtually no appetite and is much less active than normal, your dog may very well be pregnant and in the early stages of pregnancy. A pregnant dog’s appetite will increase and she will gain weight, and the dog’s stomach area will feel thick and firm. Our dog, a Lab, is exhibiting decreased appetite as a sign she is most likely pregnant.
- Decreased activity, where your dog may just be laying around more than usual due to the changes in hormone levels, she may likely be pregnant and needing the extra rest during these early stages. Female dog behavior during the early stages of pregnancy often changes to where she is wanting to be left alone on her own, not wanting to run and play fetch or play with toys. If your dog appears exhausted and tired most of the time, or is more affectionate and wanting more attention than usual, you can be assured she is most likely pregnant. Our dog is also showing these symptoms of being pregnant.
- Enlarged nipples, even slightly swollen and increased in size is another indication a dog is pregnant. A female dogs teats will become engorged in preparation for milk production and nursing her pups. Normally the abdomen area of an unbred female dog is flat, but when pregnancy is in progress, the stomach and breast area appears swollen or enlarged. We can check off this sign of a dog being pregnant as well.
- Nesting behavior is said to occur late in a dog’s pregnancy, supposedly happening within 24 to 48 hours prior to labor and delivery. Our dog has been showing signs of nesting for a couple of weeks now and it is still very early into the pregnancy. Nesting is how your dog prepares for the birth and aftercare of her puppies, perhaps by scratching at the floor or newspapers, or fluffing up blankets, as if she’s creating a nest. Some dogs display nesting behavior by digging a hole in the yard and taking tree branches and putting them in the hole.
Whelping Dogs – Building a Whelping Dog Box
Wanting to know for sure if our dog has a little biscuit in the oven and is in the family way, we called the vet to schedule an appointment for a dog pregnancy test. From the list of signs and symptoms indicating a dog is pregnant shown above, we’re pretty confident our dog is pregnant, but we want the vet to confirm it for us. Right when we were in the midst of getting vet quotes for shots and spaying our dog so she would be fixed and could not get pregnant, she freaks out during a storm and finds the first male dog she takes a liking to and winds up pregnant. Possibly. False pregnancy perhaps?
The vet can run an ultrasound detection test that is noninvasive and very reliable for determining pregnancy, and fetal heartbeats can be detected around the 25th day after breeding, but it’s not considered to be reliable in determining the size of the litter. The vet told us that she can tell if our dog is pregnant about 20 to 30 days after conception by feeling the dog’s abdomen and checking for swelling of the uterus. Apparently, if our dog is pregnant as we suspect, it’s a little too early to tell for sure and we must return to the vet in about ten days so the vet can evaluate our dog further for possible pregnancy.
Since female dogs go through much the same hormonal changes whether she is pregnant or not, there are no reliable progesterone or urine tests to accurately diagnose pregnancy in dogs. There is a blood test that will detect the hormone relaxin in pregnant dogs during mid-gestation, which is the same time period a veterinarian is able to palpate the puppy fetuses with his or her hands and fingers.
The vet also mentioned that she can take x-rays to detect pregnancy in dogs, but the test cannot be done until very late in gestation, but at least we could find out how many tiny little puppies are apparently roaming around inside of our dog. I’m not worried though. It’s important to me to know and understand what to expect when a dog is pregnant, how to take care of a pregnant dog with proper diet and exercise, so I have ordered a couple dog care books that tell dog owners everything they could want or need to know about caring for a pregnant dog and her puppies.
While I’m reading everything I can get my hands on about whelping dogs and marking the calendar, my husband will be busy building a whelping box out of wood for our dog to feel safe and secure to deliver her puppies, and to keep 3 or 4 week old puppies from climbing out.