Most often, when a dog is pregnant, owners don’t realise it until the last few weeks of her nine-week gestation, when symptoms are already obvious. But, like for babies, in order to prepare at best the arrival of the new little doggy family, the best is to get ready as soon as possible. So here are a few early signs that should help you to tell quickly if your dog is pregnant, and if yes, to make the most of the time you have to prepare and welcome the puppies at best.
The Sooner You Can Tell, The Better You Can Prepare
There are a couple of very early signs that you can keep an eye on. Firstly, know that a pregnant dog will be more patient, less active and will spend more time resting. Also, she will probably be subject to mood changes because of changing hormones level. These are the earliest signs of dog pregnancy, the ones that should make you suspect that something is coming. But these symptoms could also be sign of health troubles. In any case, a vet check will give answers.
Look For Physical Changes
Later on during pregnancy (which can go up to 60 to 65 days by dogs), your dog will experience some physical changes that won’t leave any doubt on its condition.
Nipples get bigger
Like any pregnancies, females will experience a nipples swelling and change in colour: they will get noticeably darker. Note also that the hair around the nipples should start to thin out in preparation for nursing puppies. During the later weeks of gestation, closer to delivery time, you might even spot some milk dripping out of the nipples. At that time, pregnancy is generally clear and obvious.
The body transforms
During pregnancy, no need to say that the body shape of your female dog will alter. But this does not happen until the second half of the process. Common gestation body changes include a thickening of the waist and a swelling of the belly as from the 4th or 5th week of pregnancy, while in the final third weeks, the belly should become obviously full and distended and the mammary glands will be clearly swollen and ready to provide milk.
You Can Feel the Puppies!
If any doubt persists, just put your hand on your dogs belly side and try to feel the puppies. Do you feel anything moving? Do you see the puppies’ movements in her womb? If so, be ready, as this means that your dog is almost at full-term.
Is Your Dog Behaviour Changing?
Another way to tell if your dog is pregnant is to pay close attention to your pet’s attitude. Behavioural signs may be more difficult to spot, yet they usually show sooner than physical changes. But again, they are also not much reliable as dogs can experience attitude changes for different reasons. The best is to keep a close eye on both physical and behavioural symptoms.
Some sudden changes in your dog’s attitude can reveal a pregnancy during the first half of the term. It is hard to tell which changes to look for as each dog will react differently to changing hormones levels. Some may be calmer and more tired while some will be more defensive.
Change in appetite
Like humans, future mother dogs can experience some morning sickness during early pregnancy. They may be subject to appetite loss during the first weeks for this reason and eat very little until the 3rd or 4th week of term, up to the point where they will get over nausea and start to eat increasingly until the puppies are born.
Very close to the end of term, your mother dog’s nesting instinct will begin to show. Around two weeks before giving birth, she will start to gather blankets or clothing in a place she chose to prepare a suitable safe, warm environment for her puppies.
Ask For A Professional Diagnosis To Be Sure
If you really have doubts on your dog’s condition and that you don’t want to spend a full vet appointment fee, you can start by buying a dog pregnancy test from your vet, which you can carry out at home. No need to say that human pregnangy tests are not accurate for dogs.
But if all the previous symptoms are showing, your best option is to confirm your assumption with the help of a professional. A veterinary visit is the only way to be 100% sure your dog is pregnant. The vet will first conduct a physical examination by gently feeling her tummy and listen to the puppies’ heartbeats through a stethoscope.
He may then confirm your dog’s condition with the help of an ultrasound scan or else an X-ray scan. The latter will use radiation in order to create images of the puppies. Be reassured, X-ray radiations are totally safe for your dog as well as for the puppies.
The last way a vet can confirm a pregnancy is by measuring the Relaxin hormone level, which rises a lot during gestation. This can be done as early as 25 days, which makes it the sooner way to professionllay confirm the pregnancy.
A Word On False Pregnancy
Like humans, dogs can be subject to false pregnancies. In such a case, they will show all the signs and symptoms of pregnancy, right down to getting milk and having a swollen belly, but yet not having any puppies inside. You can suspect a false pregnancy if you still can’t feel any movement in the belly after the 6th or 7th week of gestation. Again, your best option is to have your dog checked by a vet to verify your supposition.
With all these informations, can you now tell if your dog is pregnant?