Table of Contents
- How to Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant
- Dog Pregnancy Tests: Is That a Thing?
- Ultrasound Device to Detect Dog's Pregnancy
- Dog Pregnancy and Your Dog's Breed and Size
- A Closer Look at the Signs of a Pregnant Dog
- How Do I Care for a Pregnant Dog?
- How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Show She's Pregnant?
- How To Tell If Your Dog is Pregnant: Before You Go…
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 might have already done some research to find out more about the canine gestation period and what to know when your dog is expecting.
Because chances are, you might be administering certain over-the-counter medicines unaware you have a preggy pooch.
And according to a study, it should be avoided when possible because:
Pharmacotherapy during pregnancy in all species may affect adversely the developing fetus.
Knowing how to tell if your dog is pregnant is an important step in this process along with other details, such as:
- Length of a canine pregnancy
- What and how to feed a pregnant bitch
- General pregnancy tips for fur parents of pregnant dogs
- And so much more!
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 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
A dog's gestation period lasts for about 63 days (or 9 weeks).
But, you probably won't notice any signs of dog pregnancy until your pooch is about 3 weeks along.
Or notice a baby bump until your dog is in the final third of her pregnancy (6-9 weeks).
With that in mind, take note of the following early signs of pregnancy in dogs:
- Lack of energy
- Behavior changes
- Enlarged nipples that look pink in color
- Morning sickness (just like in humans)
- Vaginal discharge about one month after mating
Dog Pregnancy Tests: Is That a Thing?
Despite noticing some natural signs of pregnancy in dogs, some pet owners still use over-the-counter canine pregnancy tests.
Yes, pregnancy tests for dogs are available. But no, they are not very accurate.
Plus, they are rare and hard to find because only a few actually use them.
However, one of the brands that you can buy on Amazon is the SmileCare Pet Rapid Dog Pregnancy Test Kit.
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.
For better and more accurate results, the only over-the-counter product you can buy is a canine pregnancy detector with the probe, such as this popular Draminski PDD ($339.99) or CONTEC Probe ($1,249.00).
These are ultrasound devices often used by breeders to detect pregnancy in dogs but they're also very expensive.
A cheaper alternative is always a visit to a veterinarian's office.
To avoid performing guessing games or spending hundreds on pregnancy detectors for dogs, talk to an expert instead and have them run some tests.
Vets will perform a pregnancy blood test to precisely tell you whether or not your female dog is expecting. This test is 100% accurate.
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.
Meanwhile, big dogs carrying a larger litter of puppies may show signs sooner than dogs only carrying 2 or 3 pups.
Remember, seeking veterinary care is crucial if you believe your pet may be pregnant.
They will tell you about pregnancy and 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 your dog seems to be 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 immediately 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.
Their food intake might be less because of canine morning sickness earlier in the pregnancy.
She may even vomit at this time. Or, she may eat more but not seem satisfied.
Her Nipples Appear Swollen
Changes to your dog's nipples are one of the classic physical signs of canine pregnancy.
Most female dogs have small nipples but will grow early in pregnancy.
They may also become a darker red. At later stages of the pregnancy, they may even leak milk.
RELEVANT: Top 5 Best Puppy Milk Replacers
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, she is likely pregnant.
The important caveat is that most of the stomach growth and weight gain occurs later in the pregnancy.
If your dog already has this sign, you likely missed some earlier ones.
She Has Nesting Behaviors
Expect to see some nesting behaviors as your dog gets close to her due date.
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 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 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 dogs only produce during pregnancy.
If your dog is at least 55 days along, 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?
If your dog's pregnant, the most important thing to do is 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, it's best to have them tested for worms or any other intestinal parasites.
Ideally, you would ensure she doesn't before getting pregnant.
This is because pregnant or nursing dogs can pass on both hookworm and roundworm larvae to their newborns.
They can travel to the dog's nipples and pass 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, and 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: Before You Go…
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.
Several obvious signs 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 you plan to have or are on the way.
Let us know in the comments about your experience!
- Recipe: Homemade Dog Food for Pregnant Dogs
- What and How to Feed Pregnant and Nursing Dogs
- How to Identify False Pregnancy in Dogs (Pseudocyesis)