How to Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant: Signs and Symptoms

The best way to prepare for your puppies’ birth is to know when the mother dog is pregnant. It can be difficult to tell whether your dog is pregnant until the last few weeks of her nine-week gestation when some signs are clearer. The following signs and symptoms will show you how to tell if your dog is pregnant.

Signs and Symptoms of Canine Pregnancy

Physical changes

A female dog’s pregnancy term is only around two months, between 58 to 66 days for most of the dogs. During this period, your mother dog will have many physical changes in her body, her nipples, etc.

  1. Nipple change

Your dog’s nipples will begin to change in size and color from the beginning of the pregnant period, so you can find out your furry friend is pregnant when watching nipple’s changes. Typically, they will get bigger, and may also look noticeably darker. At the same time, because the hair around the nipples starts to thin out in preparation for nursing puppies, the changes can be very noticeable when you give your dog a belly rub.

Especially, you can see milk drip out of the nipples during her pregnancy progresses. That typically happens closer to delivery time.

  1. Body changes

When she is pregnant, the body shape of mother dog does not alter until the second half of pregnancy. Her waist begins to thicken, and her tummy fills out between about 4 to 5 weeks.

In the final third weeks of pregnancy, the dog’s belly becomes rounded and distended. Your female dog’s mammary glands start to develop and become more obviously swollen, as they get ready to produce milk.

  1. Puppy movement

Another way how to tell if your dog is pregnant during this period is to feel the movement of pups by placing your palm flat against her side where you see the rippling. You can see the dog’s flanks moving as the puppies wriggle around in her womb in the final third of gestation.

Behavioral changes

Some sudden change in behavior can be an early indicator of pregnancy. You can expect your friend to show a bit of moodiness and want little or nothing to do with you during the first half of her pregnancy.

  1. Unexpected drastic changes

All dogs react individually to pregnancy. For example, some dogs may be quieter and more tired early on, but this sign is an unreliable predictor of gestation because dogs can be more silent and more tired for many reasons. However, if you see any strange behaviors and see signs of pregnancy in your dog, it can be best to send her to your vet to be checked.

  1. Appetite changes

Dogs can get a bit of morning sickness during early pregnancy, so they can lose their appetite and eat very little when she is three to four weeks pregnant. This situation will go on until your four-legged mother gets over nausea. Her appetite will increase steadily until the puppies are born and eventually weaned.

  1. Nesting

When it is nearly her whelping time, the dog may start to nest. Between from 2-3 weeks to 2-3 days before giving birth, your friend will gather blankets or clothing in a scheduled place as she prepared a suitable safe, warm environment for her new arrivals.

Make sure to confirm a suspected canine pregnancy with a visit to the vet! They can also check on the health of the mom and litter.

A Professional Diagnosis

  1. Veterinarian visit

It can not predict more exactly than checking with your vet when you suspect your friend is pregnant. By conducting a physical examination, you can know whether your canine is pregnant or not. Moreover, your vet can listen to the pups’ heartbeats through a stethoscope.

  1. Physical examination

You can also know the pregnancy situation of your buddy through a physical examination when the vet will pay attention to gently feeling her tummy. By feeling from outside of her belly, the vet can feel the womb and the outline of a puppy inside.

  1. Dog Pregnancy test

It is quite easy to check for your dog’s pregnancy with a home pregnancy test, bought from a veterinarian. Noticeably, human pregnancy tests are not accurate for dogs.

  1. X-Ray

An X-ray scan uses radiation to create images of your dog’s insides, so you can easily predict if your dog is pregnant. At around 49 days into the pregnancy, the skeletons of puppies will typically be visible on an X-ray image.

  1. Ultrasound Scan

Your dog’s pregnancy can be detected by an ultrasound scan as soon as four weeks after mating. The ultrasound can detect the presence of growing puppies inside your dog.

  1. Relaxin test

When a dog is pregnant, the hormone, called Relaxin, will reach high levels. Between 21 to 25 days into your dog’s pregnancy, your dog can be tested for elevated levels by your vet and make a pregnancy diagnosis from these results.

Early Pregnancy Signs

  1. Energy levels

Your dog will be more patient when she is pregnant. During her pregnancy, your dog spends more time resting, becomes less active.

  1. Mood changes

Some signs related to changing mood will make you suspect your dog is pregnant. Sometimes, your dog is a bit quieter than usual, but more anecdotal observation than proven that. Because of changing hormone levels, pregnancy affects each dog differently.

False Pregnancy

It is possible for your dog to show all the signs and symptoms of pregnancy, right down to getting milk and having a swollen belly, yet not be pregnant. When this happens, it’s known as a false pregnancy, and it’s been known to fool even very experienced breeders into thinking a litter of pups is on the way. If you aren’t sure, take your dog to the vet about halfway through her 63-day pregnancy, and have the vet check her over. He can give her a blood test to verify the pregnancy, and many vets can also feel the puppies if they’re there.




Featured Image Source: Colin and Sarah Northway, Flickr

Author Bio: John Braise is a professional blogger with years of experience writing and giving advice for pet owners. With a love for pets in general and dogs in particular, he strives to provide information and guidance for those who want the best for their pet. John also writes helpful dog care tips to make owners feel at ease with their four-legged buddies on



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