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How to Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant

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Hopefully, your dog's pregnancy was a planned event. Regardless, we are going to show you how to tell if your dog is pregnant at home.

If it was, you may have already done some research to find out more about the canine gestation period and what to expect when your dog is expecting.

Knowing how to tell if your dog is pregnant is an important step in this process.

If you don't know, this is probably your dog's first litter.

While this article will answer some of your dog's pregnancy questions, it's important that you take your pet to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.

A vet will give you all the information that you need to know about the length of a canine pregnancy, what and how to feed a pregnant bitch, and general pregnancy tips for dog parents of pregnant dogs.

A vet will also examine your pooch to help you determine exactly how far along she is in her pregnancy stage, and if there are any possible issues.

How to Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant

How to Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant

A dog's gestation period lasts for about 63 days (or 9 weeks). You probably won't notice any signs of dog pregnancy until your pooch is about 3 weeks along.

And will not notice a ‘baby bump' until your dog is in the final third of her pregnancy (6-9 weeks).

The early signs of pregnancy in dogs include:

  • Morning sickness (just like in humans)
  • Lack of energy
  • Behavior changes
  • Enlarged nipples that look pink in color
  • Vaginal discharge about one month after mating

Dog Pregnancy Tests – Is That a Thing?

Some pet owners, instead of learning how to tell if a dog is pregnant when she begins showing natural signs, will start seeking out an over-the-counter dog pregnancy test to purchase to do the job for them.

Yes, pregnancy tests for dogs are available. No, they are not very accurate. They are also very rare and hard to find, specifically because nobody uses them.

The only one you can buy on Amazon is the Synbiotics brand.

While even human pregnancy tests are sometimes inaccurate, the ones for dogs have far less research behind them, and will often be extremely inaccurate, to the point where most of them are simply useless.

You also cannot use a human pregnancy test on dogs. Because humans and dogs are different species, the test simply does not work and will not provide you with any information whatsoever.

Ultrasound Device to Detect Dog's Pregnancy

Draminski PDDBecause dog pregnancy tests are inaccurate, the only over-the-counter product you can buy to use as a type of dog pregnancy test is a canine pregnancy detector with the probe, such as this popular Draminski PDD ($339.99) or CONTEC Probe ($940.00).

These are ultrasound devices often used in breeders to detect pregnancy in dogs.

They're accurate and provide fast results, but they're also very expensive and generally unnecessary for pet owners, especially when a visit to a veterinarian's office will be far cheaper (and easier).

To avoid performing guessing games yourself or spending hundreds on pregnancy detectors for dogs, talk to an expert instead and have them run some tests.

Generally, the best way to tell for sure that your dog is pregnant with puppies is to bring her to the veterinarian.

They will perform a pregnancy blood test to precisely tell you whether or not your female dog is expecting. This test is 100% accurate.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant

Dog Pregnancy and Your Dog's Breed and Size

Your dog's breed, age, overall size, and the size of her litter (number of puppies she is carrying) will determine your steps in how to tell if your dog is pregnant.

For example, small breeds have small puppies, which means it may take a little longer to tell if your dog is pregnant. Big dogs carrying a larger litter of puppies may show signs sooner than dogs only carrying 2 or 3 pups.

Remember, it is crucial to seek veterinary care if you believe that your pet may be pregnant.

Not only will they tell you about pregnancy, but they can also educate you about proper prenatal dog care and help you prepare for when your dog delivers.

They will also assist you in caring for your mother's dog and her puppy litter once she gives birth.

A Closer Look at the Signs of a Pregnant Dog

We already briefly mentioned some of the indications that you are dealing with dog pregnancies, but it is worth taking a closer look at them.

If you notice any of the following signs, schedule a vet appointment. Remember that your vet can confirm that it is not a false pregnancy and give you tips to ensure your canine has healthy puppies.

Being Less Active

If it seems that your dog gets exhausted more easily than before, this may indicate that she is expecting puppies.

Of course, it could also indicate a range of potential health issues. As such, you should contact your vet right away if you notice any significant changes in your pup's activity level.

Changes to Her Appetite

Pregnant dogs can experience a range of changes to their appetite. Earlier in the pregnancy, their food intake might be less because of canine morning sickness.

She may even vomit at this time. Or, she may eat more but not seem satisfied.

Her Nipples Are Engorged Nipples

Changes to your dog's nipples are one of the classic physical signs of canine pregnancy. Most female dogs have small nipples, but they will grow early on in pregnancy.

They may also become a darker red. At later stages of the pregnancy, they may even leak milk.

She Gains Weight

It should come as no surprise that your dog's belly growing is a good sign that she is potentially pregnant (or needs to be on a diet).

If there is no other reason for your dog's tummy to grow, then she is likely pregnant.

The important caveat is that most of the stomach growth and weight gain occur later in the pregnancy. If your dog already has this sign, you likely missed some earlier ones.

She Has Nesting Behaviors

As your dog gets close to her due date, expect to see some nesting behaviors. These are behaviors that help her prepare for the arrival of her pups.

For example, she may shred bedding or gather materials to make a cozy “nest.”

Nesting can also include being reclusive and irritable, so keep that in mind.

Other Behavioral Changes

A pregnant dog may also experience other behavioral changes. For example, some want to spend more time with their humans while they are pregnant.

On the other hand, some prefer to be alone and get irritable when bothered.

Even with all of the above information, you may still have some questions about canine pregnancy. The following should help clear them up.

How Does the Vet Confirm Pregnancy?

Your vet can palpitate or feel your dog's tummy starting at about 28 to 30 days of gestation.

If your furry friend is pregnant, the vet will notice what feels like grapes or small golf balls. You should NEVER try to palpitate your dog's abdomen without a vet.

If you do it incorrectly, you could accidentally damage the puppies.

As mentioned, ultrasounds are a good method for detecting fetal heartbeats. That is particularly helpful as it lets you know how many puppies to expect.

Ultrasounds are possible at 25 to 35 days of gestation.

Your vet can also perform a hormone test at 25 to 30 days along. This test will look for relaxin, a hormone that dogs only produce during pregnancy.

If your dog is at least 55 days along, then x-rays are also an option. Importantly, you have to wait at least that long, as the skeletal systems of the pups won't have developed enough to appear until then.

This is also a good method of telling how many newborn pups to expect.

How Do I Care for a Pregnant Dog?

The most important thing to do if your dog's pregnant is to ensure you give her the right dog food.

She will need proper nutrition, but any high-quality dog food should be fine for the early two-thirds of the pregnancy.

However, your vet may suggest you switch to a specific food. Always listen to his advice. Also, its best to have them tested for worms or any other intestinal parasites.

Ideally, you would make sure that she doesn't before she gets pregnant.

This is because dogs that are pregnant or nursing can pass on both hookworm and roundworm larvae to their newborns.

They can travel to the dog's nipples and passed on through there.

You will also need to make sure your dog gets an appropriate amount of exercise. You can follow your dog's normal routine until her tummy becomes enlarged.

During the final trimester of pregnancy, don't let your dog do any overly strenuous activities. Instead, stick to shorter walks.

Of course, your furry friend also needs regular checkups during pregnancy.

Your vet will let you know how often he needs to see her examine your dog's body and ensure everything is proceeding normally.

How Do I Care For Newborn Puppies?

It's also important to get your dog a whelping box. The sooner the better, but you should do it at least five days before she delivers.

The size of the whelping box will depend on the predicted litter size. This will provide a safe place for the dam and the newborn puppies.

As each puppy is born they come out in a sac and an umbilical cord attached to them.

After that, their mother usually chews about an inch away from the puppy's naval.

How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Show She's Pregnant?

It typically takes up to three weeks for your dog to start showing signs that she is pregnant.

How Long Is a Dog's Gestation Period or Heat Cycle?

The typical dog gestation period is about nine weeks or 63 days. This is the case regardless of breed.

How Many Puppies Do Dogs Have in a Litter?

Smaller breeds will usually have litters with three or four pups. Larger breeds tend to have litters with five to eight pups.

Of course, it varies greatly from dog to dog. Your vet can use diagnostic tests to estimate how many to expect as the pregnancy progresses. For example, an ultrasound can detect fetal heartbeats or x-rays can show skeletons.

Either of these let the vet count.

Can You Use a Home Pregnancy Test on a Dog?

A human pregnancy test will not work on a dog. While you can possibly find a dog pregnancy test online, the results may not be accurate.

The best method to confirm pregnancy signs is to take your dog to the vet. He will use ultrasound, palpitation, x-rays, or a hormone blood test to check.

How To Tell If Your Dog is Pregnant: Closing Thoughts

If you've never had a dog have babies, you are in for a unique experience! And we hope you now know how to tell if your dog is pregnant.

It can be exciting and nerve-wracking for both you and your dog.

There are several obvious signs that are important to look out for.

Follow the steps we've laid out and how to prepare. Best of luck to you and the little ones that you plan to have or are on the way.

Let us know in the comments your experience!

READ NEXT: How to Identify False Pregnancy in Dogs (Pseudocyesis)

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