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5 Signs That Your Dog Might Be Pregnant

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Clovis is a Veterinary Assistant and Safety Certified Groomer.

So, you’ve found yourself asking “Is my dog pregnant?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone! According to the ASPCA, over six million unwanted pets are placed in shelters each day, many of them puppies and kittens. If your female is not spayed, has had unsupervised contact males, and her behavior is out of character, she could be expecting puppies.

So, what are the signs of pregnancy in dogs? Glad you asked!

Noticeable Weight Gain

There could be several reasons for weight gain in dogs, but a female in her gestational period looks a little different from the pup who is just a little chunky. You've seen a pregnant belly before; they're big, round, and sometimes create the appearance of a “curved” back. By the third week, your pup should start to exhibit more of a barrel shape.

Weight loss is also a possibility; sometimes owners don’t know that their dogs are pregnant, and therefore don’t know that they need to be fed more. As a result, your dog may begin to appear very thin while her babies use up any nutrients made available.

If a growing belly is accompanied by hair loss, excessive thirst, or urination though, there is a possibility that your dog may have Cushing’s Disease.

A Lack of Energy

As her hormones begin to shift and her pups begin to grow, your dog will be more tired than usual if she's pregnant. Similar to the way a human woman feels fatigued and nauseated by the rapid changes occurring in her body, your dog probably isn't feeling her best. It's common for pregnant canines to show signs of "morning sickness,” and they may not have much of an appetite in the beginning stages.
Through the progression of your dog’s pregnancy, nausea should pass within a few weeks. If not, let your vet know just in case there's something else going on.

Nesting Behaviors

Dog moms are just like any other, and when there’s a baby on the way, they like to feel prepared! She will use her nose to push blankets, pillows, and bedding into a pile. She knows that her puppies will need a soft, safe place to be born, and she needs a comfortable spot to give birth and nurse.

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Keep in mind that some animals do this without actually being pregnant. Nesting often provides adult canines with a sense of security and a location in the home that is “theirs.” Just like you are comfortable in your own bed, so is your pet.

Swollen Breasts & Enlarged Nipples

Mothers need a way to feed their newborn babies, and for most mammals, breast milk is how they get it done! Your dog’s nipples might be larger, darker, and even a bit swollen. There may be a clear or white discharge exuding from the tip of one nipple, or all of them.

However, enlarged nipples don’t always mean pregnancy and can often be a sign of a health issue. Mastitis is frequently seen in unspayed females that are still experiencing a regular heat cycle. There should never be an unpleasant odor or excessive warmth coming from the skin; if there is, get your dog checked for infection due to a false pregnancy or other complications.

Belly Movement

Unlike human mothers, movement in the belly happens rapidly for canines. By week seven, you’ll likely begin to notice strange activity in your dog’s belly. When touched or pressed, small, fluid-filled sacs will be obvious, along with the presence of the little beings growing inside. Take extra caution when handling her belly so as not to harm the puppies. During this stage, you’ll want to keep physical exertion limited.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with walking your dog or allowing her to run a bit as long as she isn’t over-exerting herself. If you have other pets in the home, it's fine for them to play under careful supervision. Play that becomes too rough or rambunctious should be discouraged to prevent accidental injuries or miscarriages. Toward the end of her pregnancy, your dog may want to spend more time alone as she senses that her puppies are nearing delivery.

At this time, it is best to give her a quiet room to herself where she can eat and rest without any added stress.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Clovis

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