Here’s How to Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant
Her rounder belly might not be from extra snacks.
By Lacey Howard Updated August 09, 2022 Advertisement Pin FB More Tweet Email Send Text Message Print
pregnant french bulldog; how to tell if your dog is pregnant Credit: Firn / Getty
Becoming grandpaw (pun intended) to a litter of puppies is not a job to be taken lightly. As a responsible pet parent, there's a lot to do to take the best possible care of your expectant dog and to prepare for the big event. And because dogs are only pregnant for about two months, time is of the essence. That's why you'll want to know how to tell if a dog is pregnant so you can be on the lookout for the subtle, early signs of pregnancy.
5 Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy in Dogs
Whether you're breeding a litter or noticed your unspayed pooch had an unexpected meetup with a male pup, it's important to know the signs of pregnancy to help the momma-to-be prepare for birth. Just like in human pregnancies, you won't be able to tell immediately—but there are a few signs your expecting pooch will show as she gets further along.
1. Changes in Appetite
During the early days of her pregnancy, you may notice your dog isn't eating as much as normal. Then, about halfway through gestation, her appetite (and weight) will increase. "Always have Mom on puppy food during her gestation and while she's nursing," says Lonna J. Nielsen, DVM, of Winterset Veterinary Center in Winterset, Iowa. This ensures your dog is getting adequate nutrition. "And have plenty of food available to her during those high-demand times. It is crucial that Mom eats well."
2. Changes in Energy Levels
The mother-to-be might not exhibit her usual get-up-and-go during the first weeks of her pregnancy. You may notice a decrease in her usual physical activity, but Nielsen says you shouldn't restrict your dog's activities at all.
3. Morning Sickness
As in humans, the canine hormone changes that come along with pregnancy can cause your dog to vomit in the early stages of pregnancy. If the vomiting persists for several days or seems excessive, contact your vet.
RELATED: How Long are Dogs Pregnant? A Week-By-Week Look at What's Happening
4. Body Changes
A pregnant dog's nipples will change shape and color, becoming more prominent and darker. They may also leak a cloudy fluid. Your pregnant dog will also gain weight and you'll notice her enlarged tummy beginning around days 35–40 of gestation.
5. Nesting Activities
Dogs usually whelp (give birth) about 62–65 days after conception. As she nears her delivery date, your dog will look for a quiet, warm space to build a nest. If you notice your couch is missing blankets or pillows, check for hidden spots around your house—many a litter has been delivered on a closet floor!
Once your dog nears the end of her pregnancy, help her create a place where she'll be comfortable and feel safe. Nielsen suggests lining a kiddie pool or similar enclosure with newspapers and old towels or a blanket and placing it out of the way of household traffic and prying eyes. "This will help Mom stay calm," she says.
Are There Pregnancy Tests for Dogs?
Unlike humans, you won't be able to find a simple dog pregnancy test at the drugstore. But there are several ways for your veterinarian to confirm your dog's pregnancy, such as a blood test for relaxin (a hormone produced by the placenta) or an ultrasound to see the pups' heartbeats. However, these tests can give false negatives if done before week four of the pregnancy.
Keeping a close eye on your dog in the weeks after breeding is the quickest way to know if you have grandpups on the way. Visit your veterinarian four weeks after breeding to confirm your suspicions.