How To Know If Your Dog Is Pregnant (with Pictures)

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How To Know If Your Dog Is Pregnant (with Pictures)
How To Know If Your Dog Is Pregnant (with Pictures)

If your dog is not neutered and you breed with a male who is not, she is likely to become pregnant. However, as this doesn't always happen (especially if she wasn't ovulating at the time), you need ways to determine whether or not this is the case. Read the tips in this article to learn more about heat and pregnancy in dogs.


Part 1 of 4: Determining when the bitch is in heat

Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 1

Step 1. Determine if the bitch is neutered

It's easier to know if the bitch is neutered (if her uterus was surgically removed) if you've had it since she was a puppy. Otherwise, things get a little complicated. Uncastrated bitches go into heat twice a year; so, if your pet has not gone through the period in the last nine months, it is very likely that he has had the procedure.

  • The duration of heat (also called estrus) varies from dog to dog, but is 18 days on average. Dogs usually go through the period for the first time between six and 24 months of age.
  • Read the steps below to understand the signs of heat.
Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 2

Step 2. Determine the existence of vaginal anomalies

Pay attention to the dog's vagina area when she goes into heat.

  • Swollen Vulva: Swelling in the outer area of ​​the vagina lasts about four weeks and starts just before heat or just after heat is over.
  • Vaginal discharge: You may notice blood in the dog's vagina for the first seven to ten days. So, put a white sheet on her bed or house and see if it gets dirty. On the other hand, if the bitch is a rogue, she can lick (wash) the vulva and end up disguising the secretion. The flow decreases in the middle seven days of the period (when the bitch ovulates and is more likely to become pregnant) and then reappears in the last seven to ten days.
Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 3

Step 3. Observe behavior changes

When the dog is in heat, she will go through hormonal changes that greatly affect her behavior. The details of this period depend on the animal's personality: it can be irritable (even if it's calm in everyday life) or want to run away from home (even if it's quiet or obedient).

The bitch will not present other such radical changes. Take her to the vet if she becomes discouraged, loses her appetite, vomits, or drinks too much water. Certain uterine problems, such as pyometra (presence of pus in the uterus), can be confused with heat in rare cases - and, when not treated, are fatal

Part 2 of 4: Determining if the bitch could really be pregnant

Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 4

Step 1. Find out if it is possible that the bitch has mated with a male

Everyone knows that the female has to mate with the male to get pregnant. So, think about whether it's possible that your little dog has tangled up with someone, even on the street.

Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 5

Step 2. Determine if the male is neutered or spayed

Neutered or spayed males can even mate with females, but do not produce sperm that make them pregnant. The opposite is also true: an unneutered male can leave a female pregnant. If possible, contact their owners to find out more.

If the male in question was neutered less than four weeks before mating with the female, there is a small risk that he may have passed residual sperm into the dog's body during ejaculation. Chances are low, but there are

Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 6

Step 3. Write down the date the bitch crossed

This information is essential to know if she is pregnant. If bred for three months or more, there is no danger - as the average gestation period of the animal is 62 to 64 days (some cases ranging from 57 to 72 days). After 90 days, the possibility can be ruled out.

Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 7

Step 4. Calculate the dates the bitch was in heat

With this information, the veterinarian will be able to decide how best to detect pregnancy. Diagnostic methods depend on hormonal and physical changes and the presence of embryos in the uterus. Therefore, the clinician will choose the ideal alternative according to the number of days since crossing.

If the bitch has mated a male but is still in heat, it is too early to know if she is pregnant

Part 3 of 4: Watching for Early Signs of Pregnancy

Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 8

Step 1. See if the dog shows signs of lethargy or other behavior changes

Many owners notice that they change their behavior when they are pregnant: they become sleepy and lethargic and start to snuggle in the corners. However, these signs are also associated with canine pseudocyesis - also known as "false pregnancy". Some animals that have the condition even start producing milk; therefore, enlargement of the mammary glands is not a reliable indicator.

Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 9

Step 2. See if the bitch's teats are increasing in size

One of the main signs of pregnancy is when the dog's teats increase in size and turn pink.

  • She doesn't start producing milk until near the end of pregnancy (or sometimes just after the puppies are born).
  • You still have to take her to the vet for some tests, even if her tits are big and pink for four or more weeks after mating.
Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 10

Step 3. See if the bitch's waist is increasing in size

As in human pregnancy, the main sign of pregnancy in bitches is the increase in the waist - which, even so, requires care. If the bitch is healthy, the silhouette will not show obvious changes until the 50th or 55th day, when the uterus gets a much larger size.

The bitch only needs to ingest more calories around the 40th day of pregnancy. In other words, if you give her more feed at the beginning of the period (even more if it is not confirmed), she will gain weight, but not necessarily have puppies

Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 11

Step 4. Study the health conditions that show signs similar to pregnancy

Your dog may need help during pregnancy. However, it may also be that she is not pregnant, but with a condition that simulates pregnancy - such as pseudocyesis and pyometra. That one isn't fatal (and is usually caused by hormonal imbalances after heat), but this one is. Pyometra occurs when pus is produced in the uterus, which leads to sepsis, organ failure and, in extreme cases, death.

The symptoms of pyometra are similar to the signs of pregnancy, including an expansion of the waist and lack of energy. The bitch can also lose her appetite and become more thirsty. If you notice anything like that, take her to the vet right away

Part 4 of 4: Taking the Dog to the Veterinary Office for Exams

Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 12

Step 1. Take the dog for an abdominal palpation and see for early signs of pregnancy

During abdominal palpation, the veterinarian performs a physical examination of the dog's belly to detect the presence of puppies. The process does not yield confident results until about 21 days after mating - and in the early stages the clinician does the examination in the uterus itself (since the pups are not yet developed at this point).

  • Abdominal palpation generates more reliable results from the 28th day onwards, when the puppies are already developing to the point where the bitch's belly increases in size.
  • On the 35th day, each puppy is wrapped in its own capsule and the veterinarian performs the exam in search of more fluid points.
Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 13

Step 2. Understand that abdominal palpation can be problematic

Remember that, on day 28, each puppy is no more than 25 mm in diameter - which makes it difficult to tell embryos apart from food or even feces. Also, if the dog tenses and contracts the wall of her abdomen, it may be impossible to feel the presence of any structure (it would be like trying to see through a painted window). Finally, the vet may not detect one of the puppies or confuse it with a bladder, a kidney, or even feces.

Don't be alarmed if your veterinarian recommends a pregnancy test, as abdominal palpation may be inconclusive

Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 14

Step 3. Take the dog for a blood test after the 28th day

Blood tests detect levels of progesterone, the pregnancy hormone. The veterinarian can only do them after the 28th day, or the results will not be accurate. Before, it can even generate false positives, as hormone levels rise due to the delay in the body's reaction during ovulation. Finally, the blood test is reliable from the recommended date.

Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 15

Step 4. Take the dog for an ultrasound at the beginning of the period

Ultrasound is a popular way to confirm pregnancy, as the equipment operator can detect the presence of embryos from the 18th day onwards. There are other advantages, such as knowing the number of puppies in the litter - which comes in handy at the time of delivery.

  • Placental units are visible from the 18th day onwards; from the 28th, it is possible to notice the heartbeats of the puppies.
  • Ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure and the bitch is conscious while driving. The equipment sends a beam of high-frequency sound waves to the uterus; they, in turn, create "echoes" that are converted to images. Generally speaking, the test is safe, but the veterinarian may need to shave the bitch's belly hair to improve the probe's contact with the skin.
Detect Pregnancy in Your Female Dog Step 16

Step 5. Understand why radiography (X-ray) is not recommended

Today, most veterinarians do ultrasounds (instead of X-rays) to determine if a dog is pregnant. As X-rays are only useful when the skeletal structure of the fetus is calcified - which happens around the 49th day - diagnosis is very late. As for safety, the risk for the puppies is low, but the mother will have to be sedated (since the equipment operators cannot be in the same environment in which the examination is carried out), as she will not want to stand still, even more in its current state.

It is best to avoid sedating a pregnant bitch, as the process can affect the puppies' blood pressure. It is for this and other reasons that X-ray is no longer a popular option among veterinarians


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