Behavior Pet Body Language Canine Pregnancy – How to Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant

Canine Pregnancy – How to Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant

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Whether you are thinking of breeding your dog or you suspect that your dog is already pregnant, you probably want to know how to determine this for sure.

In this article, we will talk about the signs and stages of dog pregnancy and what you can do to make this entire process easier for both you and your female dog. In addition you’ll discover the best way of caring for your pregnant dog.

How to Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant

If you are not sure how to tell if your dog is pregnant, knowing what the early signs of a dog’s pregnancy are can help. A pregnant dog will exhibit behavioral and physical changes, although they will rarely show up in the early stages of pregnancy.

Common Signs

Some of the most common signs of canine pregnancy include:

  • Sickness and Fatigue – Some dogs may experience sickness and vomiting after around 3 weeks of pregnancy. This is a similar symptom to morning sickness in human pregnancies and usually resolves on its own after 7-10 days. However, if these problems persist longer than that, you may want to take your dog for a vet checkup. A pregnant dog may also experience fatigue and appear to be tired, particularly in the first few weeks of pregnancy.
  • Enlarged Teats – Your dog’s teats may become enlarged, swollen and pink after about a month of pregnancy but these changes may not be that prominent.
  • Increased Appetite – You will notice that your dog’s appetite is increasing in the second month of the pregnancy. Once your dog passes the halfway mark, discuss with your vet how to make a transition to food for all life stages and whether you should increase the amount of food.
  • Weight Gain – It usually takes around 30 days to 40 days to notice any weight gain in pregnant dogs. You may also notice that your dog’s stomach is getting bigger but that also depends on the size of the litter.
  • Nesting Behavior – This behavior usually starts late in pregnancy. Your dog may be looking for a safe and quiet place to create a nest. Make sure that she has access to a comfortable spot at room temperature where she can relax and feel hidden from exposure. Provide enough blankets for her to make sure she is comfortable.

Dog Pregnancy Test

While you may be able to determine whether your dog is pregnant by her symptoms, take your dog to the vet for a pregnancy test so you can be sure. This is particularly important because some dogs can have a false pregnancy.

False pregnancy is a syndrome where a female dog that is not pregnant shows symptoms of pregnancy. This happens when the dog’s hormone levels fluctuate and if the dog is sensitive to these hormones, she may feel like she is pregnant. Your dog may also show nesting behavior, even though that behavior usually comes at the later stages of pregnancy.

Your vet will most likely do a blood test to determine levels of relaxin hormones. This hormone can be detected in pregnant females after 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. Relaxin is produced by your dog’s developing placenta, so a blood test can definitely rule out false pregnancy because your dog won’t have any relaxin hormone if there is no placenta.

After the 4-week mark, your vet may also be able to tell if the dog is pregnant by performing palpation, i.e. feeling her belly. Remember that the vets are specially trained for this, so don’t try to do this yourself since you may harm the puppies. Another option is doing an ultrasound or an X-ray of the dog’s abdomen.

Long-coated white and brown puppy. Part of the "Canine Pregnancy – How to Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant" article.
Photo by T.R Photography on Unsplash

How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?

Dogs are approximately pregnant for 63 days. However, gestation periods may vary from dog to dog. In any case, dogs can be pregnant for 58-72 days, or about 9 weeks. Knowing how long the pregnancy lasts can help you plan for vet checkups and other things.

During your dog’s pregnancy, it is important to ensure proper care. This includes providing your dog with clean bedding, preferably getting a comfortable dog bed for her to sleep in.

Once the puppies arrive, it is important to change the bedding more often and to give your dog more space. Try not to disturb her without a good reason while she is nursing.


The best way to tell if your dog is expecting is to take her to the vet for a pregnancy test. However, you can also recognize canine pregnancy if you pay attention to certain signs like sickness or vomiting, enlarged teats, increased appetite, weight gain and nesting behavior.

Your dog can be pregnant for 58-72 days, although the most common length of the gestation period is around 63 days.

If you are interested to read our “What Shots Do Puppies Need and How Often They Need Them?” article, please click here. 


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