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How to Tell if Your Dog Is Pregnant

Picture of a boston terrier

If you are the happy and proud owner of a female dog and you’ve noticed that she seems to be a little lazier and tends to eat more than usual, you might be wondering what’s happening. Sure, these two can be signs of a medical condition, but they can also be early signs that your pooch is pregnant. 

How can you tell if your dog is expecting puppies? That’s the topic of today’s article, so keep on reading!

Increase in appetite

Your dog’s appetite will actually fluctuate. Many people think that an increase in appetite is noticeable even in the early stages of the pregnancy, but the truth is that early on, your dog will eat less or even vomit once in a while. A bigger appetite can be considered a reliable sign only after the first third of the pregnancy has passed, for instance. 

When a dog is pregnant, she experiences a variety of hormonal changes. Therefore, her appetite can change depending on this factor, too, not just the pregnancy stage. 

Increase in weight and a bigger belly

Your dog’s abdomen will grow in size both because of the puppies and because she tends to pack on a little weight. If there is no specific reason for the weight gain and your dog isn’t pregnant, make sure to take her to the veterinary clinic. There are some health problems associated with this symptom, and they could negatively impact your dog’s well-being. 

As the pregnancy progresses, your dog will become heavier by 15% to 25%. This happens in other animals, too, not just in our canine friends, and it is directly linked to the number of puppies that are growing in the future mother’s belly (and their size). 

Less activity

If your dog is pregnant, she will try to sleep a little more. You will also notice that she isn’t going to want to engage in the same usual activities, including play. Dogs that love to spend time outdoors will want to go out of the house, but they aren’t going to be as quick with chasing a ball or other animals in the park. 

It’s completely normal for a pregnant dog to be a little lethargic, and it’s not something to be extremely worried about. Keep an eye on your pooch, though. Your dog has to drink enough water and eat enough food despite how low-energy she might be. 

Behavioral changes

The vast majority of pregnant dogs willingly seek out the attention of other people, in particular, but they can sometimes seek out the companionship of other canine friends. Many hate being alone, so it’s not a good idea to leave your dog alone in the house for hours on end, even if you might be at work.

On the other hand, there are some pregnant dogs that want to be left in peace and will actively seek isolation. Some can be depressed, or they can experience mood changes, even when you give them more than enough attention. 

Nipple changes and vaginal discharge

A pregnant dog’s nipples are going to look a little different than what you might be used to. Their areolas are rounded instead of being flat, and they also have a different color, turning dark red rather than being their usual pink. This happens because there is a higher amount of blood in the area. 

In the last week of pregnancy, the dog might also have significantly enlarged nipples, which might also express milk. 

Vaginal discharge is common in some pregnant dogs, but not all of them show this symptom. If you do notice it, it will most likely be transparent. Bloody discharge is not normal, especially after the early stages of pregnancy have passed, so if you notice any, get in touch with your vet as soon as possible. 

How does a vet tell if your dog is pregnant?

If you have noticed any of the clinical signs that we have mentioned and you still aren’t sure if your dog is expecting, you should take her to the vet clinic for a check-up. There are a number of tests that the veterinarian can run to diagnose a canine pregnancy. Here are several examples:

  • Ultrasound scan
  • Abdominal palpation
  • X-rays

Sometimes, even a physical examination can be enough, especially if the dog is in the late stages of the pregnancy. Using a stethoscope can reveal the puppies’ tiny heartbeats. 

Final words

Pregnant dogs need a bit more care, so you should ask your vet what you should do about it. In terms of nutrition, feeding your canine friend a puppy diet might be a good idea, especially since it is richer in proteins, fats, as well as minerals. 

If the puppies are large or there are many of them, they will effectively take up space in the mother’s abdomen. This means that every meal has to be nutritionally dense. Otherwise, the dog will have to feed almost continuously in order to benefit from the right diet. 

Throughout her pregnancy, your dog can remain active and engage in exercise. However, during that time, you should try to do your best at keeping her healthy. All vaccinations and treatments are usually postponed until after the birth. To make sure that the mother and the puppies remain healthy, you will have to take your canine buddy to the vet several times during the pregnancy.

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