How to Tell If a Dog Is Pregnant: 5 Signs

Is your bitch getting lazier by the day or has lost her appetite? These symptoms can indicate something beyond just being sick. A healthy happy dog with restlessness and changes in behavior are symptoms that you might have some litters home soon.

These are not too obvious signs of pregnancy and hence a thorough check-up is needed by her vet to confirm this. In this article, we will give you the signs which indicate pregnancy in a dog. A lot of dog owners do not want to breed their dogs so they are confined during their period of heat. It may happen, however, without the owner’s knowledge sometimes or can be planned breeding.

Just like in humans, it is difficult to conclude pregnancy in the first weeks of gestation. The signs mentioned below may or may not be seen in your dog as they are not definite signs. Every dog may have a different pregnancy each time. Read on the list below if you are wondering about her pregnancy.

5 Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs

1. Appetite loss:

This is the first sign indicating pregnancy in your dog. Due to all the hormonal changes happening in her body, she will give up food for a day or two. Few dogs go through the phase of morning sickness. Nausea happens in the third or fourth week and fades away in the days ahead. All the food they miss initially is made up for in the later weeks of the pregnancy.

Since this is common during the initial weeks of her pregnancy, never force food on her. Offer her some favorite food or snack and give her space and time to do whatever she wishes to do. A day or two without food is not a cause for worry, but if it continues to post it, then it is time to see the vet for expert advice.

2. Decreased activity:

Most dogs are generally active and do not laze around all the time. They love their playtime and show excitement during this time. But due to the continuous changes in the hormonal levels, they may get exhausted easily and slow down their activities. This sudden change in their activity and energy indicates a pregnancy. All the bodily changes are happening to provide support and care to the embryo growing inside her. After about 2 weeks since conception, her nausea will be on the rise. The 4th week is usually when the vomiting stops and she starts adjusting with her new body conditions.

3. Breast Development:

The definite sign of pregnancy is the enhancement of the breasts. Any kind of changes in the breast area indicates that the dog is now going through changes for her pregnancy. A female that hasn’t been bred and not pregnant will have smaller nipples and a flat surface below the nipples. But once pregnant, the nipples enlarge and the area below it enlarges. This is the body’s way of preparing for the milk production by the milk glands and eventual nursing of the mother. They start showing changes in the third week after being bred.

4. Changes in nipple:

The changes in the breast region are a good indication of being pregnant. But if you are unable to notice even that, then the color of the nipple is another easy indicator of pregnancy. Due to the increase in blood flow in this area, the nipples turn from pinkish-gray to rose-pink. The nipples closer to its hind legs, the last four to six nipples, are especially affected by this. You will notice these changes taking place typically two weeks post conception.

5. Behavioral changes:

Most first-time pregnant dogs will show changes in behavior. Few of them start seeking more attention and show affection to their owners as they do not understand the changes happening in their bodies. Some of the dogs may get grumpy and stay by themselves for the most part of the day. These changes can be noted after the first few days of successful breeding. During the third trimester or from the sixth week until the delivery, dogs will display a unique nesting behavior. They will shred any available material to create a nest for their puppies. They may get irritated during this time due to the discomfort she is experiencing physically. You need to be prepared for the puppies to come.

Other things you should know about your pregnant dog

Vaginal Discharge:

After about 4 weeks of gestation, you will notice vaginal discharge in your pregnant dog. Though it is not an early pregnancy sign, it definitely lets you know a lot about her pregnancy.

  • If you see any discharge before 4 weeks, then consult your vet immediately.
  • If you are not aware of her pregnancy, then you still have time to take care of her.
  • Bloody discharge, blood-tinged mucus, colored mucus that isn’t clear, bad odors in the mucus are signs of something wrong.

False pregnancy:

The symptoms and signs happening to your dog may indicate the possibility of pregnancy. However, there are chances that it is a false pregnancy. Both kinds of situations have almost the same signs. The only difference that you need to remember is that during a real pregnancy, the first two weeks of gestation will have noticeable signs. In a false pregnancy, the signs start occurring only after 4 weeks of her heat cycle’s end. In a few cases, the signs even occur after nine weeks or more. 

Things you need to do for your pregnant dog

It is okay to wait and watch for the symptoms of her pregnancy at home. You should also consult a vet irrespective of whether the breeding was a choice or not. A vet can confirm the pregnancy with a blood test and you can rule out any possibility of the dog being sick with similar symptoms of pregnancy.

There are no pregnancy test kits available for dogs. Vets can do a blood test and check for the levels of a hormone called relaxin. Their test takes about ten minutes to confirm the pregnancy. However, accurate results can be confirmed only if the dog is over 22 days pregnant. This test can cost you anywhere between $120 and $150. An ultrasound can also confirm the pregnancy but it is costlier. It can cost $300 to $500. Ultrasound has an advantage over the blood test. It can tell you regarding the general health of the puppies as well as give you the exact number of puppies in the litter.

Your dog will get through her pregnancy without any assistance, but you can do a few things to make her life a little easier and comfortable during this period.

  • Give her good nutritious food whenever possible.
  • Even though she is not in the right condition, a little exercise can help her stay toned without putting excessive weight. 
  • Do not let her do anything tiring or strenuous.
  • Once her belly starts to grow, give her a comfortable space to rest.
  • Do not overburden her with household stress.
  • Prepare a corner for her puppies as well.

If your dog is pregnant for the first time, then you might not be able to initially spot the signs easily. As the weeks pass by, the signs get obvious. Take advice from the vet and do everything possible to help your dog deliver the puppies in a safe and healthy environment. 

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