Unlike humans, it is not always easy to tell when a dog is pregnant. At first, it may just look like your dog is putting on some extra weight but after three to four weeks, it will be hard to miss. Dogs are only pregnant for about nine weeks so watching for physical or behavioral changes can help you determine if they are carrying puppies. But, a trip to the vet will confirm or deny your suspicion. Here are some ways to tell if your dog may be pregnant.
If you feel your female dog may be pregnant, the first tip is to be patient and watch for early physical signs. Many dogs don’t show signs of pregnancy the first few weeks and their appetite may remain normal.
One the earliest ways to tell if a dog is pregnant is by their nipple size and color. If the nipples appear more prominent, slight swollen, and a rose color, it can be a sign your dog is carrying puppies. After about 4-5 weeks, a pregnant dogs body will begin to change and their waist will appear thicker.
Continue to watch their body for any changes. By the final few weeks, their bellies will be round and swollen and their mammary glands will begin to develop as they are getting ready to produce milk. At this point, you may be able feel if puppies are wriggling around in their belly. If you don’t, don’t be disappointed as the puppies are deep instead their belly.
Like humans, dogs can also suffer from morning sickness, but it usually doesn’t occur until after the third week. If your dog begins vomiting after a few weeks you can look at their gums. If they are white, it is a good sign they may be pregnant as the blood is gathering in the uterus for the puppies. It’s not something to worry about unless it continues for more than two days.
Mood changes may also occur in pregnant dogs. Some dogs become quiet and withdrawn while others become overly affectionate and clingy. Although a mood change may indicate pregnancy, it can also mean your dog is ill. If they start to show symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, coughing or sneezing, contact your vet immediately.
Towards to final stages of a dog’s pregnancy, their appetite will change. Because puppies take up space in their belly, they won’t be able to eat large meals and will prefer to snack and eat smaller meals throughout the day.
When a dog is close to giving birth, they may begin to nest. Nesting is when a dog will grab blankets or clothing and bring them to a secluded, safe place in preparation for delivering the puppies. This could happen 2-3 weeks to 2-3 days before delivery.
A Professional Opinion
The best way to determine if your dog is pregnant is to take them the veterinarian. First, they will give your dog a physical examination and pay special attention to their belly. They may not be able to tell if your dog is pregnant based on feeling the outside of their stomach as puppies can sometimes be mistaken for feces. The best time to feel for pregnancy is between 28 and 35 days.
If your dog is late into their pregnancy, the vet will sometimes be able to heart heartbeats. This is not as easy as it sounds, though, as dogs have round bellies and a fur coat.
One of the most effective ways for a vet to determine if your dog is pregnant is to take a blood test. This will show if the dog has Relaxin, a pregnancy hormone, in their system. A positive result – even before the 28th day – will confirm they are pregnant.
Ultrasounds and x-rays are also an option. X-rays are not used as frequently as ultrasounds but can be used to determine how many puppies are in the womb. Ultrasounds can confirm or deny pregnancy the earliest. An ultrasound can confirm the presence of puppies at just 16 days.
Whether you intentionally mated your female dog or not, the best way to tell if your dog is expecting is to bring them to your veterinarian. But, watching for physical and behavioral changes can help you determine if your family is about to become a bit larger.
One way to watch for changes is by monitoring your dog’s activity levels. With the Nuzzle collar, you can see if their physical activity has decreased and they aren’t exercising as much. To learn more about Nuzzle, click here.