When you decide to get a dog, you should be prepared for many beautiful things ahead as well as potential hard times. Some of the main problems are potential health issues that may occur. Other things that can happen may be a problem to some, while to others, it can be considered a blessing.
This is especially connected with female dogs. If you don’t spay your dog, you can expect that your female beauty may come home pregnant. Of course, you need to keep an eye on your dog at all times, but these things could happen.
If you are planning a litter, then this is amazing and happy news. Finding out that you may be getting a litter might be exciting, but it requires a lot of preparation. Dog pregnancy can be tiring for both the dog and for you, and it can even be a bit confusing.
If you decide on breeding dogs, you need to learn a lot of things. You can do your own research, but it is always better to get advice from the vet.
But, there is always the question of how to tell if your dog is pregnant. Well, if you are reading this article, you can consider yourself lucky!
We made a list of all the signs that your dog might be pregnant.
How Do You Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant? All You Need To Know
You can plan your dog’s pregnancy, but it can be accidental as well. Either way, there will be some signs of pregnancy that your dog will showcase. If you planned the pregnancy, you will probably start looking right away.
If you didn’t, the early signs of pregnancy might not even strike you as signs of your dog possibly being pregnant. In the early stages, the signs are mostly psychological, or, in other words, behavioral. There might be some physical signs, but the behavioral signs are more predominant.
Because of this, people who aren’t expecting their dog to be pregnant might not even notice these signs. But, if you are expecting or even suspect dog pregnancy, we have listed all the signs that tell if your dog is pregnant.
Unfortunatelly, some people might not be happy with the news, and proceed to go through dog abortion. We are advocates for trying your best to try to find a home for your future puppies, but we also understand that for some people, it might be overwhelming.
A side note is that some of these signs can also be signs of some health issues. Behavioral changes can also show that your dog might be struggling with something other than pregnancy. This is the reason why you should always take your dog to the vet if you notice any of these, just to be sure.
1. Sickness, a.k.a., Vomiting
Morning sickness is one of the first symptoms of human pregnancy, but not a lot of people know that this is also a sign that your dog is pregnant. If you don’t know that your dog is pregnant, you would probably think that it is sick.
Vomiting occurs in week three or four after the breeding process. It usually lasts only for a couple of days. Sometimes, dogs can have morning sickness, but not throw up. This might be the reason why they change their moods.
As a dog owner, don’t you wish that your dog could just speak and tell you what is wrong with her? That would be lovely, but since this isn’t the case, we need to do our best to figure out what might be the problem.
Your dog might fart much more than usual, and this is perfectly normal as well. This might be a bit funny, but stinky as well, so try to get the air going through the house.
Your dog might lose its appetite when morning sickness occurs. It is important not to give them a lot of dog food at once because it might cause the vomiting to be even worse. Try to give them smaller meals throughout the day.
Try to make them light. Don’t worry – your dog won’t go without food for more than a day or two. If you see them not eating for three days, you should take them to the vet because this might be a symptom of some health issue.
All in all, the sickness doesn’t last for a long time, so you don’t need to worry. Be there for your dog and offer them food and water, so that when they feel better, they can take it. The sickness occurs because of hormonal changes, and it is completely normal.
2. Changes In Appetite
A dogs’ appetite during pregnancy can fluctuate. This depends from dog to dog, and in some cases, the changes in appetite don’t even occur, or if they do, they might be unnoticeable.
But, if a change in appetite does occur, we want to prepare you, and describe how it might go. In the early stages, as we already mentioned, your dog might be experiencing some sickness. Because of this, their appetite tends to decrease.
At this point, you should give them lighter meals, and instead of dog food or, in other words, kibble, you should try to give them light human food. Try to give them a couple of smaller meals a day.
In the middle of the pregnancy, they might experience an increase in appetite. Advice is to increase their meals by about 25% during every week of their pregnancy. This, of course, depends from dog to dog, and it is best to get advice from your vet.
In the periods when their appetite gets healthier, you need to provide them with proper food that will give them all their nutritional needs. The increased appetite is caused by hormonal changes, and also because the puppies are getting bigger and momma needs her nutrition as well.
In the late stages of the pregnancy, the food intake might decrease again because the puppies are taking most of the space in her abdomen. At this stage, it is important not to force food on her. Always check with your vet – they will give you the best advice.
Every dog is different, and this doesn’t mean that your doggy will go through all of this. Some might have a big appetite throughout the whole pregnancy, while some might not want to eat that much.
Keep an eye out because a loss of appetite is a sign of some other possible health issues that your dog might be facing.
3. Breast Changes
This is an early sign that is only connected with pregnancy. A dog’s nipples are usually flat and small. As the pregnancy progresses, their breasts will get bigger. This is because the milk glands are preparing and growing so that they can, later on, produce milk.
Areolas become bigger and more rounded compared to their usual size and shape. The changes in the breasts will first start to show two weeks after the breeding. The hair around the teats may decrease. This is preparation for nursing, so the puppies can come to the nipple easier.
In the final stages, you may notice some milk coming out of the nipples. Don’t worry – that is perfectly normal, and it is a sign that the whelping is coming soon.
4. Nipple Color
Besides the breasts getting bigger, they can change color as well. This is also an early sign of pregnancy, and it occurs in the first trimester, or in the second or third week of pregnancy. Sometimes, this won’t happen for first-time future mommies.
The nipples can become darker, and this indicates that the blood flow has increased and the teats are preparing for milk production. But, the nipples, in most cases, turn lighter. A dog’s nipples are usually pink, but they become even lighter.
This depends on the dog, but this is a good sign that your dog has been pregnant for about two to three weeks. The nipples will change color at the same time as they change shape.
5. Changes In Behavior
Changes in behavior can be hard to connect with pregnancy sometimes. This can happen in any of the stages of pregnancy, and it can last throughout the whole pregnancy. They can either have one mood and stick to it or they can change like a roller coaster.
When the hormones kick in, you can never know how your dog will react to them. Some dogs become needier. They will love attention, try to spend a lot of time around their owner, and most likely sleep really close to you. If this happens, you shouldn’t leave your dog by itself for a long time because they might develop anxiety.
Your dog licking you often is a sign that their maternity instincts have kicked in, and that they need to showcase their love to somebody – and the first person will be you.
Other dogs tend to get isolated. They love to spend time alone, and can even become a bit angry or aggressive if someone approaches them, especially strangers. Even then, try to be around and show them affection because they might need it at times.
But, don’t overdo it because it may make them even more angry and uncomfortable. They can also become depressed, which we (as humans) forget dogs can become. First-time pregnant dogs might get confused and scared because they don’t know what is happening to them.
Some dogs either might not have changes in behavior or they might last for just a short time. But, make sure that you don’t over-analyze it if you were planning your dog’s pregnancy. If you really want your dog to get pregnant, you might start seeing some changes that aren’t actually there.
6. Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharge is a normal symptom, but it occurs in the later stages of pregnancy – specifically, it won’t appear until four weeks gestation or sometimes even later. The only acceptable discharge should be colorless or a bit cloudy with no strong odor.
Even when you see this type of discharge, you should contact your vet. We will list some of the types of discharge that should not occur, and if you see them, you should immediately contact your vet.
According to the AKC, if you see any of these, react as soon as possible:
– Mucus with some blood
– Discharge with a lot of blood
– Discharge that is any color besides clear or cloudy
– Discharge with a bad odor
This may either be a sign that there are some complications or that your dog got an infection during the pregnancy or during the mating process.
7. Changes In Activity
Because of the changes in hormone levels so that their body can grow the embryo, the dog can get exhausted. You will notice that their energy levels and exercise needs will be lower.
This usually begins around the second week of pregnancy. Your dog will spend more time napping, and will probably refuse to walk, let alone do some greater activity. If your dog is generally a bit on the lazier side or if she is a low- or medium-energy dog breed, you might not even notice these changes.
But, if your doggy is really active, then this will be very noticeable. If you don’t know that your dog got pregnant, you might think that something is seriously wrong with her. Either way, this is a sign to take your dog to the vet and see how the pregnancy is going, and potentially find out that you will have some new puppies soon.
This low-energy mode might last for a couple of weeks, when they get used to their new condition and they might gain some energy back. In the final week or two, they might lose their energy again because the puppies will get bigger, and it will be hard for them to move around.
Dogs have amazing instincts for many things, including the instinct that the delivery is approaching. This occurs in the two last weeks of their pregnancy. At this point, you probably know that your dog is pregnant, and you have prepared all the necessary things.
The dog gestation period lasts for approximately 57 to 70 days, and this is the reason why it is important to prepare your dog and make her comfortable as soon as possible. You will see them take all the blankets, toys, and pillows you gave them and make a little nest.
This is why it is important to prepare them a whelping box (or some area) where they will feel the safest early in their pregnancy. They will naturally know that this place is a safe place for the whelping process.
The nesting behavior is also a good sign for you that the birthing process is getting closer, so you can get prepared as well. You can also contact your vet to gather some advice on how to be fully prepared.
9. Fur Flaring On The Sides
This sign is for dogs that have a long coat. This is sometimes unnoticeable, and it is a late sign where the belly has already grown. Their big belly is the reason why the hair on its sides can flare.
Both the belly and the fur will pooch depending on how many puppies your dog is carrying. If your dog has a short coat, this will not appear.
10. Temperature Drop
This is in the final stages of the pregnancy, and it is a big indication that when the body temperature lowers, the whelping may start within the next 24 hours. This is the reason why the vet will advise you to check on their temperature for the last week of their pregnancy.
At this point, your beautiful dog will have big breasts and a big stomach, low energy, and will probably have a decreased appetite. When you see the temperature starting to get lower, begin with the preparation, and make sure that your dog has everything that she needs.
11. Changes In Body Weight
This is a sign that is most noticeable, but it appears in the later stages of pregnancy. Her puppies are getting bigger, so the momma will get bigger as well. Depending on the number of puppies, the dog will either get very big or gain just a bit of weight.
This also depends on the dog breed. If a dog is smaller, it will for sure gain less weight than a bigger dog. Weight gain depends on many factors; however, you will for sure see the belly at some point.
This is why it is important not to overfeed the dog during the pregnancy as gaining additional weight may make the pregnancy harder for the dog.
Also, make sure that your dog doesn’t have iron deficiency. If you see your dog eating your underwear, it might be a sign that their iron levels are low, and their body is showing a need to nibble on anything that may come their way.
12. Gum Coloration
This may occur around 21 days after the breeding process. This sign isn’t that common, and it can go by unnoticed. The naturally pink gum will turn to a white shade. This happens because the fetus attaches itself to the uterus.
Because of this, most of the blood goes to the uterus, and the amount of blood in the gums will decrease – and because of that, they look like they are white. This isn’t a problem, and it is normal. It will stay like that for a couple of days. If it stays that way for a long time, you should contact the vet.
This is in the final stages of the pregnancy. Your dog will sense that the puppies are coming, and sometimes, she will get scared and nervous. You will notice them pacing around the house, but always returning to their safe space.
If you know the due date, this won’t be unusual behavior, and your vet will probably prepare you for this. Try to make your dog as comfortable as possible, and give her a lot of attention and love to make her feel safe and calm.
This might not seem like one of the signs of dog pregnancy, but we needed to put it in here. Some people don’t know that their dog is pregnant, and they arrive home and see a litter of puppies. This might seem like the dog owner isn’t responsible, which is not the case.
This can happen when you didn’t know that your dog had been bred firstly. Secondly, if you own a big breed that is a bit chubbier, you might not notice that they are getting bigger. You might miss other signs if you are not looking for them.
You might notice other signs, but think that they are connected to something else, and you end up with newborn puppies. We hope if that happens to you, you accept that as a blessing, and find them new loving homes.
How Can You Be Sure If Your Dog Is Pregnant?
Even when you are expecting your dog to be pregnant, and see some of the signs, it is for the best to take them to the vet to be certain that your dog is pregnant. There is a thing called false pregnancy, which can showcase some of the true pregnancy signs.
To be 100% sure, the best option is to seek professional help and let the vet do the tests. Some tests are to figure out if the dog is pregnant while others are to make sure that the pregnancy is going well.
Many of these can be done at home by purchasing all the right equipment, which can be considered as home pregnancy tests and home monitorization. This is more for the people who have more experience, or for breeders. But, even then, we advise you to go to the vet since they are the ones who know a lot, and have the most experience.
There aren’t dog pregnancy tests that you can just go and buy in a pharmacy, so these are the safest and most reliable ways to find out about pregnancy and keep it safe.
This is the first test, and the one that is mostly used to confirm that a dog is pregnant. A blood test should be done at the 28-day mark. If this is done before the 28th day, the result could come out as a false positive.
Blood tests are used to find out if there is any relaxin in the blood. Relaxin is a pregnancy hormone that, if shown in the results, means that the dog is pregnant.
An ultrasound is done around 25 to 30 days of gestation. At this point, you may already know that your dog is pregnant, but sometimes this is the way you may find out. It is done just like with we humans.
The vet puts a gel on the dog’s abdomen, and will then search for any potential puppies. With an ultrasound, you can see the future litter size, or, in other words, how many puppies are in your dog’s belly.
You will also be able to hear the heartbeats of the puppies, which can be quite an emotional moment. The heartbeats are 2 to 3 times faster than the mother’s heartbeat, so don’t be scared if you think that it is too fast when you hear them.
An X-ray is for sure the most reliable way to find out how many puppies are in the mother’s belly. An ultrasound is reliable as well, but sometimes a puppy or two might be a bit more hidden. This method can not be done before the 55-day mark.
Before 55 days, the puppy’s skeleton is not fully developed. After 55 days, you will be able to clearly see the number of little skeletons that the momma is carrying. If you weren’t planning the pregnancy of your dog, this method may allow the vet to assess how many weeks of pregnancy is left.
Palpation should be done on the 28th or the 30th day of the dog’s pregnancy. This is when the vet feels the puppies by touching the mother’s belly. The puppies will feel like small balls, but with this method, the vet can’t determine how many puppies there are.
This is a method for figuring out if the dog is pregnant. This should be only done by a professional or with a professional being present. If you have a lot of experience you may do this method yourself, but if you don’t, please don’t try it by yourself.
How To Take Care Of A Pregnant Dog
You need to know that this is their sensitive time, and that they will need your full attention. Every dog reacts to pregnancy differently. Some might love it if you are around them all the time while some might not.
We made a list of things that you can do to your dog to make this process easier. But, always monitor their behavior, and what they like and don’t like.
Since the babies in her belly will be taking all the nutrient stuff so they can develop, the momma will be left with little nutrients. This is why it is important to give her extra-quality dog food. If you are not sure what to give her, you can always ask your vet for suggestions.
You can give her human food as well, but that is also something you need to do a lot of research on. They need a lot of proteins, minerals, and fats. At the beginning stages of pregnancy, they might not eat that much, and start refusing food.
This doesn’t need to scare you because they usually have morning sickness at this point, and that makes it harder for them to eat. But, monitor them because too little food can cause some problems. Vitamins and other supplements are not needed for a pregnant dog.
After a while, when the puppies are starting to get bigger, they will need more calories. This is the point when their appetite gets big again. You need to make sure that you are not giving them too much food because they can gain weight.
The extra weight can make the rest of the pregnancy a lot harder, and it can cause some problems while birthing. When you are giving your pregnant dog meals, try to give her smaller meals more frequently throughout the day, instead of one big meal.
Since the puppies are taking up a lot of space in her stomach, she won’t be able to eat all that food. If the food stays out too long, it can go bad, which can cause damage to the dog’s health.
This is something you need to avoid. Giving a pregnant dog any type of vaccine could be fatal for her pregnancy. It can have some serious side effects. If there are any vaccines that your dog needs to get, make sure she gets them before the pregnancy.
If an unplanned pregnancy happens, this can get tricky. But, as soon as you find out that your dog is pregnant, postpone any vaccine until the pregnancy is over, and when she stops nursing.
In the beginning stages of the pregnancy, your dog might be able to play and run around for a longer time. Unless she has bad morning sickness, she will probably be a bit calmer and lay around.
It is important for her to rest, but is also important to get her moving as well. A walk or a small session of playing fetch might be good enough. If she doesn’t move around much, she might gain extra weight, which is not good for her.
The tricky part is that her appetite grows in the later stage of the pregnancy, and that is the time when they don’t like to move that much. This means they eat a lot, and don’t move enough. At this time, it is important to take them for shorter walks, but more often.
When you find out that your dog is pregnant, you need to ask the vet how often you should bring her in for a check-up. The vet will look for any potential disease, and if there is any discomfort. Even if the pregnancy might look good at the beginning, there can be some difficulties.
This is why regular check-ups are important. If there is (God forbid) any problem, it is important to find it on time and react as soon as possible. Since their pregnancies don’t last a long time, the vet appointments will not be as frequent as you may think.
This depends from dog to dog. Usually, because of the changes in hormones, they seek a lot of attention and comfort from their owner. Try to spend as much time with them as possible. Give them lots of kisses and snuggles so they feel more comfortable.
Some first-time mommies to be can get scared and confused because they don’t quite realize what is happening to them. This is when your role kicks in. If they accidentally do something bad, try not to get mad. It might just be that they are seeking your attention or that their hormones made them a bit moody.
When it comes to strangers or even some other family members and friends, you should keep them distant. Some dogs might not mind the extra attention, but others might not want anyone around them until the pregnancy is over.
If you feel like your dog is isolated and doesn’t want to be around anyone, don’t force any attention – always keep an eye on them. Because hormones are tricky, they might not want any attention for the majority of the pregnancy, then all of a sudden, they become needy.
How Long Does It Take To Figure Out That Your Dog Is Pregnant?
The dog’s pregnancy lasts for approximately 63 days, or, in other words, nine weeks. The first signs won’t occur before the first trimester or in the first three weeks. Symptoms will occur from the 21st day of pregnancy.
The bigger and more obvious signs will occur in the second trimester (or around the sixth week of the pregnancy). They will get bigger, which will be the biggest indicator, and it will be mixed with other symptoms as well.
If the pregnancy is unplanned, some of the symptoms might seem like they are connected to something else rather than pregnancy. The earlier signs will for sure be harder to detect.
Even when the pregnancy is unplanned, we are sure that you are an amazing dog owner, and that you will see that something strange is going on with your dog and take it to the vet. You will probably find out at the same time frame as people who are expecting their dog to be pregnant.
When Can A Dog Get Pregnant?
Dogs can get pregnant when they are in season – in other words, when they are in heat. This is the period when they are fertile. Before and after this period, it is almost impossible for a dog to get pregnant.
The heating season comes once every eight months, and it lasts for three weeks. When you want your dog to get pregnant, there is not much time to react to it, especially if they become a bit angry towards other males. Don’t do anything forcefully – instead, wait until you see that your female gets along with another male.
The thing you need to know is that they can get a bit fussy towards males when the heating season comes, so you need to make sure that no dog bothers them. This can be a problem if you are planning to get a litter, but always make sure that your dog is comfortable.
How Do You Prepare For Whelping?
This can be an article by itself, but we will go through the main things you should do. The most important thing is to prepare a whelping box. Make sure that it is isolated from other people, and that it is extremely comfortable.
Put a lot of blankets, toys, and pillows in it. The whelping box is their secure place while birthing, and when the puppies are still small and they need to nurse. Some dogs don’t like much attention while whelping, but others can even postpone the whelping process until their owner comes home.
My husband’s Bull Terrier did this. We went outside to grab a couple of things, and were gone for a couple of hours. As soon as we came back home, she went into her whelping box and started delivering.
You should always have some food and water to offer them when the process starts. A good idea that I saw is to offer them ice-cream for dogs. It cools them down a bit, and will give them the strength to continue the delivery.
If you know the due date, try to be in the house around that time, and give them comfort. This can all be scary, but you can always ask your vet for help. They will be willing to be available 24/7 to assist you over the phone.
You will need a lot of blankets or cloths because the whelping process can get messy. When your dog is taking a small potty break, you should take that time to clean a bit, so it is more comfortable for them to proceed with the process.
We know you got this!!
To Sum It Up
We hope that we have helped you answer the question, “How to tell if your dog is pregnant?” Carrying a pregnancy and giving birth can be stressful for both your dog and you, but try to make it a bonding and memorable experience.
Some of the signs are for the early stages while others are for the later stages of pregnancy. We hope that even if you didn’t plan the pregnancy, you will feel blessed and enjoy every moment with your pregnant doggo and her litter.
We wish you and your dog all the luck, and we hope that maybe one of the puppies may stay with you and hang out with its mother for a long time. We understand that giving away the puppies is hard, and that you will want every single one of them to stay with you.
But, the feeling that you found them safe and loving new homes will fulfill you. Hey… maybe one of your relatives can have one of the puppies, so you will be able to see it often.