Whether it is your pet’s first time, or you have already witnessed this scenario play out in the past, it can be an exciting time when you suspect your dog is pregnant.
If you are able to determine that your dog is pregnant, there are many things you will need to do to prepare for the arrival of your new puppies. You will want to make sure that you know what to expect, and how to care for your dog during pregnancy.
Before this, however, you will want to confirm the pregnancy.
Maybe you caught your dog/dogs ‘in the act’, and recently, your female pet’s belly has been appearing to be quite swollen.
Or perhaps she has been showing signs of discomfort, such as frequent urination, increased thirst, and even vomiting. If you detect any of these symptoms, then it may be possible that your dog is pregnant.
However, if you are not 100% certain about the pregnancy, you may want to find a way to confirm it. This way, you will be able to rule out the possibility that your dog is actually just having some sort of gastrointestinal disorder.
How can you test a dog for pregnancy? Can you test her the same way that you would test a human, using home pregnancy test kits?
Let’s find out.
How Do Pregnancy Tests Work On Humans?
Before we discover how you can successfully test a dog for pregnancy, let’s look at how humans typically go about testing themselves for pregnancy.
The most common method used by people who wish to confirm their own pregnancies is through the use of a home pregnancy test kit. These kits come in various forms, but they all work in basically the same way.
A home pregnancy test kit is a long, plastic stick that requires the user’s urine to test for the presence of a hormone called hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). The hormone hCG is produced by the placenta after implantation occurs. It is also present in high levels in the blood of women who are pregnant.
The woman can either urinate directly onto the test strip, or urinate into a separate container and dip the test strip into the sample. Once the test strip is wet, the results usually appear within 5-15 minutes.
If the result shows positive, then the person can assume that she is indeed pregnant. On rare occasions, a home pregnancy test can display a false positive result, but this is very uncommon.
A false negative is far more common: therefore, the best option is to take a handful of tests to ensure that you get accurate results.
Home pregnancy test strips are available online and from pharmacies, while pregnancy test kits are sold over the counter at drug stores.
There are other ways to determine whether someone is pregnant or not, including ultrasound scans and blood tests. However, these methods are generally only recommended for those who are trying to conceive. They are also expensive and require specialized equipment.
These methods, however, are typically more accurate than the home pregnancy test kits.
Can A Human Pregnancy Test Be Used On A Dog?
First and foremost, the main issue that would arise while testing a dog with a home pregnancy test would be gathering a sample of urine. Unless you run after your dog with a container to catch their pee, you may find this task difficult.
For argument’s sake, let’s say that you have a sample of your dog’s urine: would a home pregnancy test be able to detect the presence of hCG in it?
The reason for this is that dogs do not produce hCG. Therefore, using a home pregnancy test kit intended for detecting human pregnancies on a dog would be a waste of time and money.
However, there are other ways to discover if your dog is pregnant or not.
How Canine Pregnancy Works: A Timeline
Before we look into methods of discovering if your dog is pregnant, let’s take a look at how a dog’s pregnancy works, and what happens during this period.
Your female dog will need to have reached a certain age before they can (or should) conceive.
Dogs usually have their first ‘period’ when they are six months old, when they go into heat for the first time. A female dog will typically be in heat between 2 and 4 weeks, and their next cycle will happen again six months later.
You will want to wait until your female dog is, at least, on her fourth heat cycle before she gets pregnant.
Additionally, you will want to make sure that they have received all of their vaccinations before they get pregnant, or engage in mating.
The Mating Period
While a female dog is in heat, male dogs may attempt to mate with her.
During their heat period, females release a scent that attracts males: this scent causes the males to… well… ‘fall in love’. It causes them to lose their senses as their mind focuses on one thing, and one thing only: mating with the female.
The same can also be said for the female: when in heat, she may ‘try it on’ with any surrounding males, providing they like each other. It may take less than a minute for the pair to decide that they are attracted to each other, and once this happens, there may be no stopping them.
When dogs mate, the female ‘locks’ the male inside her for a period of time. This may last up to 30 minutes, and it is very important that you do not try to separate them during this time. Doing so could cause harm to either, or both, dogs.
Once the deed is done, the two will emerge, and the male will leave the area immediately. Remember that, even if the dogs have locked together, this does not mean that the mating was successful. Only time will tell!
The Signs Of Pregnancy
The first noticeable signs of a canine pregnancy are fairly subtle, and may be hard to miss if you’re not paying close attention.
Your female dog may appear to be quite lethargic during the first couple weeks. She may seem tired, and uninterested in having anything to do with you.
Additionally, her appetite may decrease slightly. Just like humans, some dogs are prone to suffering from morning sickness.
The most obvious indicator of pregnancy will be that your dog’s stomach will have become more bloated and firm to the touch.
A canine pregnancy typically lasts between 58 and 68 days, which is roughly around 9 weeks.
When your dog is close to giving birth, she may seek out a quiet, ‘safe’ space to settle, and she may appear to be a little more irritable and sensitive than usual.
If you notice these signs in your dog 9 weeks into the suspected pregnancy, then you should prepare for a birth in the near future.
Where To Find Dog-Friendly Pregnancy Tests
Sometimes, a canine pregnancy can go unnoticed throughout, leaving some dog owners in a stressful situation when they suddenly find themselves assisting a birth at short notice.
It is important to keep an eye on your pets, especially if you have even a slight suspicion that your pet could be pregnant.
So, how can you find out for sure?
There are canine pregnancy tests that can be used at home: these can be found online, at your local veterinarians, or at a pet pharmacy. Unlike human pregnancy tests, which require urine samples for testing, canine pregnancy testing requires blood samples.
A hormone called relaxin can be found in a pregnant dog’s blood: this hormone is produced by the dog’s placenta. Therefore, a dog’s blood sample is used in the way that a human’s urine sample would be used.
We recommend using the Bellylabs pregnancy test, which uses this hormone to detect pregnancy. Blood sampling for this test takes less than 5 minutes, and it can be completed just about anywhere. The best thing about the Bellylabs pregnancy tests is that they can be purchased without any prescription needed.
The DRAMINSKI dog pregnancy detector is also a great device to check for canine pregnancies: this detector uses a probe that can locate amniotic fluid in the dog’s uterus, so you can test your pet without needing to draw a blood sample.
Just like human pregnancy tests, a canine home pregnancy test will also come with instructions for use.
Other Ways To Find Out If Your Dog Is Pregnant
If you don’t feel comfortable testing your dog at home, there are a couple of other options that can be used instead.
The most typical way to find out if your dog is pregnant is by taking her to the vets for a check-up during the suspected gestation period. The veterinarian will gently examine your dog’s stomach with their hands, feeling around for possible embryos, as they will become present within the first 28 days after mating.
Furthermore, an abdominal ultrasound scan (USS) can be used to scan your dog’s stomach for potential puppies, and the vet will be able to determine whether it has been fertilized. Ultrasounds can be used at around 4 weeks post breeding.
It is so very important to know if your dog is pregnant, as you will need to spend some time preparing for the birth.
Nine weeks is a short period of time. In order to make things easier for yourself and your dog, you should keep a close eye on your dog’s behavior/physical state in the weeks following their suspected (or confirmed) mating.
We recommend that you take your pet to the vets once you suspect that she may be expecting: not only will your vet be able to confirm the pregnancy, but they can give you the best advice on what to do next.
Going through a pregnancy is stressful for anyone – human or animal – so you will want to make sure that your dog is as healthy, comfortable, and happy as possible!
Make the process easier for her by preparing beforehand, creating a secure environment for her to deliver her pups.
We wish you (and your pet) the best of luck!