Unwanted Pregnancy in Dogs: Prevention and Termination

Do you know how many times a dog gets in heat per year? 

Depending on the breed and size, your dog is prone to getting in heat two to three times a year. 

And it's in these important periods of the year when female dogs attract male dogs in their vicinity.

Male dogs smell any female dogs that are in heat, which would then lead to a potential pregnancy.

Now what if that was an unwanted dog pregnancy? What would you do?

Unwanted Pregnancy in Dogs infographics

If you own a female dog and have no idea about heat cycles, you could easily get yourself multi-breed puppy problems in no time.

Worse, is that your pooch's unwanted pregnancy contributes to the 3.1 million dog population count in shelters.

And it's not helping the pups either!

Ray Anderson of Cincinnati Animal Care even puts it this way:

“An overpopulated, loud and stressful shelter is not going to do any dog favors. We have not gotten to that point, but we’re seeing dogs here so long that we’re starting to worry about quality of life.”

And we don't want all of that to happen, right?

That's why in this article, I'll help you know everything there is to learn about unwanted pregnancies in dogs.

First, I'll be presenting to you the 5 most common signs of dog pregnancies that you can easily spot in your dog.

I'll also be elaborating on the 5 actionable ways to prevent unwanted dog pregnancies.

Lastly, I'll be sharing with you 5 reliable procedures to terminate unwanted pregnancies in your dogs. More of these are at the end of this blog.

Now, are you ready to prevent or terminate unwanted dog pregnancies?

Let's start!

Symptoms of Pregnancy in Dogs

Symptoms of Pregnancy in Dogs

Pregnancy can be an exciting experience for you and your dog!

Unwanted pregnancies, on the other hand, are full of complications and burdensome problems. 

That's why we want to spot signs of pregnancies in your dog as early as possible. 

Here are some signs and symptoms of dog pregnancy you must take note of:

#1: Weight gain and swollen abdomen

1. Weight Gain and Swollen Abdomen

Similar to women, a pregnant dog can look like it has a bloated stomach. 

Pregnant dogs have enlarged stomachs after gaining weight.

Their abdomens will also sag and get larger since it's preparing to house a whole litter.

So if you noticed that your dog's stomach had gone large, schedule an appointment with your nearest vet to verify your suspicion.

There can also be times when your dog's stomach swells heavier or larger than the usual size for pregnant dogs.

If the enlargement of the abdomen becomes abnormal, there must be another underlying health issue worth discovering.

That's why it's best to check with experts regardless if the abdomen swelling is pregnancy related or not. 

#2: Enlarged and discolored nipples

2. Enlarged and Discolored Nipples

Your dog's nipples are also great signs of pregnancy.

This is because your female dog's nipples appear small and flat before they breed puppies.

Normal nipple colors also range from light gray to light pink, depending on the dog's breed.

But once your dog had experienced pregnancy at least once, the appearance of their nipples will also change drastically.

The nipples will become larger and very soon it'll sag.

Its color would also turn into a slightly darker shade, which indicates an increase in blood flow.

In the last stages of pregnancy, you'll be able to spot visible milk leaking from their teats too.

#3: Decreased appetite and activity

3. Lethargy, Fatigue, and Appetite Loss 

Have you noticed anything different from your dog?

No, I'm not talking about just the physical changes in your dog, I'm talking about their behaviors.

Like how they're usually hyperactive, but now, they spend their time napping and lying down all day?

Chances are, it could be a symptom of another underlying disease, or in this case, pregnancy!

Dog lethargy and fatigue happen during pregnancy because of major pregnancy-related hormones at play.

It could also mean that the body is slowly preparing for motherhood and eventually, labor.

Furthermore, most female dogs go through mood swings during pregnancy. 

Some female dogs alleviate the swings by refusing to eat or taking long hours of sleep. 

So, if you noticed a change in your dog's lifestyle, have a vet verify your pregnancy claims as soon as possible. 

#4: Unusual behaviors due to mood swings

4. Mood Swings and Unusual Behaviors

As I've mentioned above, dogs tend to have frequent mood swings throughout all pregnancy stages.

And their swings show through unusual behaviors. 

Pregnant dogs will sometimes spend their time by themselves and act indifferent toward you.

Your dog may even get angry at you for no reason.

Believe me, when my dog got pregnant, she was all prickly and visibly irritated too.

What's more worrying is that she also distanced herself from me during her pregnancy period.

So what did I do about it?

I respected her need for space but still closely observe her condition.

The last thing that I want her to feel is that her space was hostile to her pregnancy.

On the other hand, your dog may seek extra attention and snuggle all day with you.

Wish my dog was like this to me instead!

Overall, there are plenty lot of unusual behaviors that a dog shows when they're pregnant.

But no matter how varied these behaviors are, the common theme for these behaviors is that they're all seemingly random, sudden, and even over-the-top.

#5: Nesting behavior

5. Nesting Behaviors and Instinct

Another thing you should look out for in pregnant dogs is their nesting behavior.

Yes, you read it right: dogs nest like how birds do.

Nesting behavior is actually an instinct that your female dog acquires during the final stages of pregnancy.

When this instinct kicks in, your female dog will start tearing up fabric, paper, and other scrap items, then gather them all up in one place.

Basically, your dog is preparing a safe location to deliver and contain its litter.

Because of that, you can also see some territorial behaviors and bursts of agitation that comes along with the instinct.

If you observe that your dog is starting to create a nest, keep your children away from the area to avoid any sort of aggression. 

How to Prevent Unwanted Pregnancy In Dogs

How to Prevent Unwanted Pregnancy In Dogs

Unwanted pregnancy is an already complicated situation that creates more problems for you and for your dog.

For one, going through pregnancy termination is taxing to your female dog's health.

In animal wellness expert Katelyn Son's article, she states:

What to expect depends on the used abortion method.

The side effects of dog abortion can vary from increased thirst to bone marrow suppression.

In more severe cases, it may result in anorexia, mammary congestion, and severe blood loss.

In cases of ovariohysterectomy, there are several side effects associated with anesthesia and surgical site 

Imagine how many unwanted pregnancies your dog has to terminate if you stop a pregnancy before it could happen.

There's also the issue of the costs of every pregnancy abortion in dogs.

Son also added:

Drug-induced methods are around $100-$700.

When terminating a late pregnancy, using a surgical method, the abortion may cost $2.000 or even $3.000.

That's why it's better to prevent unwanted dog pregnancies than to treat them.

As the century-old proverb goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” 

And with that, here are some of the things that can help you prevent your dog's unwanted pregnancy.

#1: Spaying and neutering will keep them from an unwanted pregnancy

1. Dog Spay and Neuter

Female dogs don't undergo menopause.

If you have no intention of having your dog mated, spaying them might be the best option for you. 

Spaying and neutering is an operative surgery that sterilizes an animal's private part. 

This procedure is one of the safest methods that had produce reliable results!

It helped curb the dog euthanasia count of 13.5 million per year in 1973 down to just 1.5 million in 2019.

With spaying, your dog will also have a lesser chance to contract mating diseases.

It also gives you peace of mind, knowing that your dog will not get pregnant. 

#2: No budget for spaying? Isolate them

2. Isolate Female Dogs when in Heat

If you don't want to sterilize your dog for specific reasons,  you might want to consider isolating them during their “in heat” periods.

Through isolation, you are refraining your dog from meeting and breeding with male dogs. 

Sure, it may sound unimpressive, but I can guarantee that this process effectively keeps your dog from having an unwanted pregnancy. 

#3: The use of dog underwears

3. Make Your Dog Wear Underwear 

Have you heard of a dog wearing underwear or diaper?

It may be unusual, but dogs wearing this type of clothing is one of the ways to prevent unwanted dog pregnancy. 

And why underwears wouldn't work?

The underwear shields your pet's vulva from any male dog's penetration!

Isn't that just practical? 

Dog underwear sets are available in many online stores, but here's one product that I personally recommend:

Pet Parents Premium Washable Dog Diapers &...
18,541 Reviews
Pet Parents Premium Washable Dog Diapers &...

Depending on the product you are using, dog underwear will also help minimize the pheromone-like chemicals your dog emits during its heat cycle.

#4: Know when your dog is in heat

4. Know When Your Dog is in Heat

It pays to be prepared, so knowing when your dog will be in heat is a must for every dog owner.

To start, dogs go into heat at least twice a year.

However, every dog's heat cycle can vary in terms of its heat length, hormonal changes, and discharge amount.

When female dogs are in heat, it usually lasts from 7 to 10 days.

In addition, some dogs have a silent heat cycle.

Silent heat cycles basically mean that they don't display any outward symptoms of being in the heat.

But no mistake, your female can still become pregnant in their silent cycle!

Here are some of the signs that you should also know if your female dog is indeed in the heat:

  • They are overly friendly with other dogs, particularly male dogs;
  • If they mount or hump anything such as your sofa or pillows;
  • They more often than not, turn their tails to the side; or
  • If they are fidgety or always nervous.

#5: Be a responsible parent for your dog

5. Be a Responsible Parent for Your Dog

The key to preventing pregnancy is to be a responsible dog owner.

It may sound easy-peasy, but trust me, tending to your dogs in heat ain't child's play.

Being a responsible dog parent is not limited to playing, training, and feeding. 

Instead, responsibility also includes investing in dog care knowledge and making the right decisions for your dog. 

And in cases of unwanted pregnancies, your female dog needs you to be well-informed more than ever. 

Termination of Unwanted Dog Pregnancy

Termination of Unwanted Dog Pregnancy

In cases of unplanned dog pregnancy, dog owners are presented with these options for dealing with the pregnancy: 

  • Keep the pup and continue the pregnancy
  • Desex and sterilize the dog
  • Abort the pregnancy at the earlier pregnancy stage
  • Resort to surgical abortion in the later pregnancy stage

But out of all these options above, I strongly advise my fellow dog owners against resorting to surgical abortions. Here's why.

The downside of surgical abortion is that the procedure places your dog at a lot of surgical risks during the operation.

Surgical abortions in the later stages also run the risk of health complications even after surgery.

Veterinarians.org also backed this solution, saying that:

The procedure is more complicated than the routine spay – the dog’s ovaries are more fragile, and the uterus’ blood vessels larger.

Also, for some veterinarians, this is not ethical for dogs in late pregnancy with already well-developed fetuses.

Now, if surgical abortion in the later stages of pregnancy is not actually an option, how about the other ones? 

And that's what we're gonna tackle in this section.

Here are some tried-and-true ways to abort pregnancy in dogs, the right way. 

#1: Mismate or Misalliance Treatment

1. Mismate or Misalliance Treatment

Mismate or Misalliance therapy refers to the procedure of injecting Alizin into your dog's neck. 

Two shots of Alizin are the recommended therapy dosage to stop the progesterone receptors in a dog's uterus.

With the receptors being stopped, your dog's body will absorb the fetus rather than flushing it out of its body.

The best thing about this treatment is a guaranteed 94% effectiveness rate in all dog abortion cases!

If you decide to acquire Alizin, it would be best to ask for help from a trusted veterinarian.

They are the only ones qualified to inject this into your dog.

#2: Dexamethasone

2. Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone is a type of steroid used to treat various diseases in both people and animals.

In dogs, its usage includes eye and skin problems.

Under proper veterinarian supervision, dexamethasone can result in painless abortions in dogs.

But take note that dexamethasone-induced abortion is only possible after a few days of the mate.

In fact, the best effect of this dexamethasone is when the drug is administered as early as a few hours after the mate.

Dexamethasone works the same way Alizin makes your dog reabsorb the fetus back in its body.

But depending on your dog's reaction, its body can also expel the fetus from the body.

The adverse effects of using dexamethasone, however, range from moderate to severe, including vaginal discharge and malnutrition.

Although extremely rare, it can also become deadly, especially when administered at the wrong dosage.

#3: Injectable Estrogens

3. Injectable Estrogens

Compared to oral estrogens, injectable estrogens are far safer. 

Oral estrogens expose your dog to more illnesses and infections like pyometra, a hormonal-induced infection in the uterus.

Moreover, oral estrogen is ineffective if you administer it too late or administer it at the wrong dosage.

You're putting your dog's life in jeopardy for nothing.

Instead of orally administering estrogen, you can also request the vet to administer it via injectables or skin patches.

Injecting the drug delivers the substance straight to your dog's blood and ultimately avoiding any liver complications.

It also doesn't negatively affect your dog's uterus, allowing future pregnancies later on.

The only catch with this one is to give them as soon as the dogs finish mating. 

#4: Prostaglandin F2 Alpha

4. Prostaglandin F2 Alpha

Prostaglandin F2 Alpha is also a popular choice for terminating dog pregnancies.

Similar to injectable estrogens, it has a high effectiveness rate with only a few mild side effects. 

Prostaglandin F2 Alpha is a natural hormone that increases the oxytocin levels within the uterus.

As the oxytocin level rise in the uterus, the hormone imbalance makes the uterus contract and experience pre-matured labor. 

Only qualified experts, however, should be allowed to use and apply it in abortion cases. 

If your dog is experiencing side effects like trembling, nausea, diarrhea, and shortness of breath, take your pet to your local vet and keep it under close observation.

#5: Dopamine Agonists

5. Dopamine Agonists

Dopamine agonists are another option to terminate the early stages of unwanted dog pregnancies.

They work by stopping the synthesis of prolactin, a hormone that signals progesterone production.

While you can administer it to your dog by yourself, your safer bet is that you let a vet administer it instead. 

In dogs, the most common side effects of this medication include lack of appetite and nausea.

There may be other side effects that may pop up like excessive salivation, vomiting, and scratching on the injected area.


Ultimately, the best remedy for any unwanted dog pregnancies is to spay the dog. 

However, in some cases, once we come to know that our dog is pregnant, we tend to end it without thinking. 

While it may be hard for us to decide for our dogs, keep in mind that this will be heartbreaking for them.

It is their child that we are taking away from them.

Like all mothers, they might not be able to bear the mental and emotional exhaustion that it will cost them. 

Hence, let's help our dogs avoid this unwanted pregnancy and spare them from the pain.

Remember that they aren't just pets; they are family.

READ NEXT: Dog Pregnancy 101: The Guide on Pregnant Dogs


Unwanted Pregnancy in Dogs