How To Tell If A Dog Is Pregnant: 7 Quick And Easy Signs

Pregnant dog

Dogs are great companions and can be a lot of fun to have around. However, they also come with their own set of responsibilities.

One of those responsibilities is the care of their puppies. If you’re not sure if your dog is pregnant, then this article will help you out with some of the most common pregnancy signs.

Of course if you have any concerns about your dog’s health (pregnancy or otherwise) you should absolutely speak to a veterinary professional as soon as you can.

Table of Contents

Mother dog with her puppies

1: Check Her Urination Pattern

One way to tell if a dog is pregnant is to check her urination pattern.

A pregnant dog will urinate more frequently than usual, and her urine may contain blood or be cloudy.

Of course it can be hard to tell what her urine looks like, so you’ll need to do some detective work. 

If you can’t determine what’s causing her increased urination, a vet may be able to perform a pregnancy test. 

2: Observe Any Changes To Behavior

Another possible indication that your dog may be pregnant can be behavior changes.

She may become more tired and want to sleep more, or she may become more needy and want more attention.

Dog sleeping

She may also start eating more, or she may have a decrease in appetite.

Of course, only you know your dog’s behavior well enough to be able to tell if she’s exhibiting any of these changes specifically due to being pregnant. 

3: Look For An Increase In Weight

One of the most obvious signs (much like in humans!) is an increase in weight. This is usually one of the earliest signs of pregnancy in dogs, and can be difficult to miss.

Dog gaining weight or swollen abdomen

If your dog has been gaining weight recently and constantly asking for more dog food, and you cannot think of any other reason why (hey, some dogs are just greedy – no judgement here!), it is possible that she is pregnant.

Hand in hand with weight gain, you should also look out for a swollen abdomen. 

One indicator this is ‘just’ weight gain, is how you dog reacts to he abdomen being touched.

If your dog is not too bothered by it, this could be a sign that she isn’t pregnant and just putting on weight naturally.

But, if your dog reacts negatively to being touched near her abdomen, and is also gradually gaining weight, it’s probably safe to say she’s pregnant.

4: Feel for an increase in hardness in her abdomen

When dogs are pregnant, their abdomen will become harder, as the growing puppies will need more protection. 

This is one way of distinguishing pregnancy from normal weight gain, as a pregnant dog will generally have more of a “belly” than a non-pregnant dog. 

As mentioned above, if pregnant, she may be sensitive to you touching her belly area. 

Of course there could be a number of reasons beyond pregnancy, so it shouldn’t be taken as a sure fire way of telling.

5: Check for changes in her appetite

Dogs who are pregnant may start to eat more, or less, than they normally do. They may also start to show interest in different types of food. 

That’s not massively specific is it?! Well, in general, if your dog is eating more than usual or showing an increased interest in food, it’s likely she’s pregnant.

Dog eating more food than usual

If your dog is losing weight or isn’t eating at all, it may be a sign of another cause – either way, get her checked out by a vet asap 🙂

6: Enlarged Nipples or Changes to Color

One way to tell if a dog is pregnant is by looking at her nipples.

Much like in humans, pregnancy can cause a dog’s nipples to become enlarged or change color.

7. Nesting Behavior

Another common symptom of pregnancy in dogs is nesting behavior, where your dog will start to look for a comfortable place to have her puppies. 

A good example of this is where she’ll start to dig holes in her bed, or the floor.

Pregnant dog nesting in clothes

She may also start to build a nest out of whatever she can find – this could be anything from straw to leaves – or most likely, your favourite clothes!

As with everything else, if you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior that you don’t understand, it’s best to take her to see a vet.

Dog Pregnancy FAQ

Here are some quick fire questions and answers for you on dog pregnancy 🙂

How soon can you tell if a dog is pregnant after mating?

Realistically, you’re looking at 3-4 weeks before you’ll see any signs – check this article from Purina for more details about this

How long does dog pregnancy last?

The average dog pregnancy lasts between 58 and 65 days. However, this can vary depending on the breed of dog.

For example, dog gestation period in smaller breeds lead to shorter pregnancies, while larger breeds may carry their puppies for a few extra days (and in extreme cases even a week or more).

Some dogs may also experience false pregnancy, which is when they show many of the same symptoms as a real pregnancy but are not actually pregnant.

Do dogs get morning sickness?

Dogs do not typically experience morning sickness like humans do, but it’s not unheard of for pregnant dogs to vomit in the morning (or actually, throughout the day) – especially in the early stages of pregnancy. 

How do vets tell if a dog is pregnant?

Vets generally use a combination of physical exams, blood tests, and ultrasounds to determine if a dog is pregnant.

During a physical exam, the vet will feel the dog’s abdomen for any sign of enlargement or change in shape.

Blood tests can check hormone levels, while ultrasounds can provide a clear image of the developing puppies.

Can you still walk a dog when she’s pregnant?

It’s generally safe to walk a dog during pregnancy, but if you usually take her for long strenuous walks, you may want to tone it down. 

Of course all dogs are different, and you should consult your veterinarian first.

They can advise you on how much exercise is appropriate for your dog based on her individual health and stage of pregnancy.

Can dogs have phantom pregnancies?

Yes, dogs can have phantom pregnancies. This is when a dog has all the symptoms of being pregnant, but is not actually pregnant.

Phantom pregnancies are relatively common in dogs and can be caused by a number of things, including hormonal imbalances.

If you think your dog may be experiencing a phantom pregnancy, it’s best to take her to the vet for an examination.

How many puppies will a dog usually have from one pregnancy?

The average litter size for dogs is six puppies, but this can vary depending on the breed and other factors.

Some small breeds may have as few as one or two puppies, while large breeds may have up to 12 or more. 

How soon after giving birth can a dog get pregnant again?

It is possible for a dog to get pregnant again very soon after giving birth.

In fact, it is not uncommon for a dog to be in heat and become pregnant again while still nursing her previous litter.

This is why it is important to spay your dog as soon as possible if you do not want her to have any more litters.
Heavily pregnant dog

Summing up

So these were just a few of the major signs that you can look out for, to tell if your dog is pregnant.

However, the most reliable way to know for sure is to take your dog to the vet for a check-up.

The vet will be able to feel the puppies inside the uterus and confirm the pregnancy.

Above all, it’s always best to get your dog checked out early so that any potential problems can be averted.

PS if your dog isn’t likely to get pregnant, but you’re thinking of bringing a pup into the household, check out our guide on introducing a new puppy to your older dog.

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