Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs

Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs
Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs

Most dog owners don’t have knowledge about canine pregnancy. It comes to them as a surprise when their dogs are nearly due. Learning about signs of pregnancy in dogs is very important. It gives you a heads up on the issues dogs face while they are pregnant, things you should look out for and how to handle any unwanted situations that may arise.

It takes 58 to 67 days for the female dog (bitch) to give birth after conception. Because of the short gestation period you can easily miss the signs.

FAQ’s on Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs

  • How do I know if my dog is pregnant?
  • What should I do if my dog is pregnant?
  • How long does it take for pregnancy signs to start showing?
  • What are the signs of false pregnancy in dogs?
  • Can a human home pregnancy test kit work on dogs?
  • Do dogs have their home pregnancy test kits?

Here are answers to these and more;

How do you know if your Dog is Pregnant?

Knowing the pregnancy symptoms makes it possible for you to help your dog have a straightforward and stress-free pregnancy. Several signs can help you tell if your dog is pregnant some are early signs of your dog’s pregnancy other and others are late signs.

Early Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs

Early signs of dog’s pregnancy are hard to notice but still, there are some signs that you can watch for, so keep an eye for these signs and if you think you might be on to something take your dog to the vet for better and accurate results.


During the early stages of pregnancy female dogs lose appetite and begin to eat less. This is similar to human’s morning sickness and happens three to four weeks into the pregnancy.  These signs are not common in most dogs but if it happens don’t worry because later on in the pregnancy your dog’s appetite will increase and become almost twice its normal appetite.

What you can do before your dog regains its appetite is giving it better and tastier meals and also the growth in appetite can happen very early in the pregnancy when this happens, increase its daily meal and ensure your dog is well fed.

Nipples Size and Color

Female dog’s nipples change in color and size from their usual appearance. It’s one of the easiest early signs to spot because the nipples become larger and swollen getting ready for production of milk which makes it easy to notice.

Dog's nipples change in size and color while pregnant
Dog’s nipples change in size and color while pregnant

Also, the hair around the nipples thins out, and tits look pinker in color, a change from their grayish color when they are not pregnant, this happened due to the increase in blood flow around the nipple to help in milk production.

Sleeping Habits /Decrease in Energy

This symptom is seen both in early and late periods during the pregnancy; the female dog feels exhausted than usual, so she sleeps more and also rests excessively. The symptoms increase slightly before birth due to hormonal changes, so just ensure your dog is comfortable and rests in a quiet area.

Sleeping habits can be related to Increased nesting behavior so during the late times of the pregnancy watch your dog carefully to see where she would prefer giving birth at.

Noticeable behavioral and personality changes

Most pregnant dogs change in behavior; they become quiet and moody or become more dependent, affectionate than usual. This is brought on by the hormonal changes and also body changes due to the pregnancy. The change in character that’s out of her normal behavior shouldn’t alarm you it might be due to pregnancy. However, there are lots of dog-related diseases that have this type of symptom that’s why it’s recommended to get a vet opinion.

Late Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs

These symptoms start appearing about 40 days after breeding and become more noticeable as the due date becomes closer, that’s why the symptoms are more noticeable compared to the early signs. They include:

  • The female dog has clear or semi-clear virginal discharge and also tends to urinate a lot.
  • Their large pinkish nipples have milky fluid discharge but of little trickle like sizes.
  • Nesting; the dog’s starts looking for a place it would give birth. At this stage, you need to know your dog’s choice of nesting if she doesn’t accept the one you have made for her. Knowing this can be essential in helping your dog during birth and also helping of the puppies.
  • Around 20 to 50 % increase in the dog’s mass due to the grown fetuses in the womb and also the growth in food consumption.
  • There is size increase, especially in the abdomen. Its increase depends on the size of your dog and the number of puppies it carries. Smaller size dogs tend to become larger than normal compared to bigger dogs.

False Pregnancy in Dogs

Although not common dogs, false pregnancies in dogs do occur. These types of symptoms usually occur one to two months after a dog has been in heat and didn’t get fertilized. Pseudo-Pregnancy can last for a month depending on the seriousness of the condition. The cause of this condition is unknown. It is commonly associated with hormonal imbalance. Some relate the symptoms to effects of surgery in female dogs but the studies are still going on. Here are the symptoms of false pregnancy in dogs:

  • Weight gain
  • Swollen belly
  • Behavioral change
  • Variations in the nipple size and color
  • Lactation
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nesting activities and restlessness

As you can see, there are lots similarities between real and false pregnancy, and although it’s not a serious condition, it’s good to take your dog to the vet to avoid such situations.

How Vets Detect Dog Pregnancy

For a more definitive confirmation of your dog’s pregnancy, you require tests from a vet.He’ll come up with a definitive answer that puts your signs and assumptions to rest.

There have been questions like “Can you use a home pregnancy test on a dog?” well the answer is No! The human home test gives incorrect answers when testing for dog pregnancy, however, there are canine pregnancy test kits available and check the levels of “relaxin” hormones in the female dog’s plasma and serum in your pet’s blood. A high amount of the hormones indicates dog pregnancy.

The text kit should be purchased at a vet to avoid miss procurement of the wrong item. This type of test also falls under hormonal analysis was done by vets but know can be done at home you only need you dogs blood sample.


X –ray machine can be used to scan your dog’s stomach to see if there any development of the skeletal system of the unborn babies. These images can be visible on an X-ray image although the dog’s fetuses must be at least 46 days old so that they can be visible on the X-ray image.


Four weeks after mating the vet can use an ultrasound scan to determine if your dog is pregnant. The ultrasound uses a technology of non-invasive sound waves which detects the puppies shape, heartbeats and sometimes count.

Abdominal palpation

30 days after breeding the vet can perform abdominal palpation to determine pregnancy. Only a professional should do this test. That’s why it’s more accurate 30 days after breeding because the qualified vet can feel the puppies better.

Maintaining the Owners Role

For smooth delivery, you as the dog owner should have a role play. Assisting your dog will better her chances of survival, recovery and increase the likelihood of it getting healthier puppies.

Keeping a calendar

The calendar might be helpful if there might be any complications that arise. You need to take the dog to a vet for examination, calculation and timing of the expected due date.

  • Take your dog for test to check if the symptoms are illness related or its Pseudopregnancy
  • Do exercise routines with her and make sure she doesn’t do strenuous activities.
  • Help her with nesting by making comfortable places for her to choose from.
  • Proper nutrition is recommended.
  • Minimize stressful situations in her life.
  • Helping her during delivery

When to call the vet

Most of the cases canines make smooth delivery without assistance. But there are emergency situations where you will need to jump in and help or call for help.

Here when you should call your vet:

  • If she stays a long time in labor without delivery i.e. more than two hours
  • The pregnancy lasts 68 days and above without delivery
  • If there is a large window between puppies delivery 3-hour window
  • When the puppies are stuck or unable to get out of the dog’s womb
  • Unusual vomiting or panting
  • If the newborn puppies aren’t responding or breathing
  • Your dog appears to be in lots of pain

These are possible situations where you need to call the vet for assistance.

1 Comment

  1. It sure got my attention when you said that due to the hormonal changes in the dog’s body, pregnant dogs may either become more moody and quiet or clingy and dependent than they usually are. I knew there was something wrong my pet dog started being more clingy to me. She usually sleeps in her own bed and dislikes it when I bother her during her nap. Now she insists on sleeping on the same bad as me and follows me everywhere I go. I guess I need to take her to a vet to see what can be done to make her pregnancy easier for her. Thank you!

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