How to Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant: Signs and Home Pregnancy Tests

Updated on August 8, 2019
alexadry profile image

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and the author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Dog pregnancy can be difficult to detect. Learn the signs, see your vet, and consider using a canine pregnancy test.
Dog pregnancy can be difficult to detect. Learn the signs, see your vet, and consider using a canine pregnancy test. | Source

Figuring out whether your dog is pregnant or not can be somewhat challenging, especially for new owners or inexperienced breeders. When attempting to determine whether a dog has become pregnant, a number of factors need to be considered.

If your dog was at her estrus (the most fertile time of her heat) and a tie with a male was witnessed, it is very likely she is pregnant. Many things can go wrong during and after mating, however, and what looks like a genuine pregnancy may in fact be a false pregnancy.

What Is the Estrus Phase?

The estrus phase is the most fertile period of a female dog's heat. To increase the chance of pregnancy, female dogs should be mated during their estrus. This usually occurs between the 7th and 10th day after bleeding begins. The estrus phase is the window of opportunity you should be looking for if you would like your dog to get pregnant.

Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs

Early pregnancy signs in dogs may be hard to detect, especially by an inexperienced owner. Some dogs may become slightly inappetent during the first few weeks of pregnancy. A slight decrease in activity may also be observed as your dog begins to go through hormonal changes. Nipple growth is another early sign—most pregnant dogs' nipples will appear slightly larger even during the early parts of their pregnancy.

3 Early Indicators of Dog Pregnancy

  1. Inappetence (decreased appetite)
  2. Noticeable decrease in activity
  3. Enlarged nipples

How Can You Know for Sure if Your Dog is Pregnant?

Signs of canine pregnancy can be a good indicator that breeding was successful, but if you want to be 100 percent sure, try one of the following methods.

Check With Your Veterinarian

Your vet may palpate your dog's abdomen as early as 28 days after breeding. If available, an ultrasound may be a more accurate test—some ultrasounds may even help your vet determine how many puppies your bitch is expecting.

Order a Dog-Specific Home Pregnancy Test

Nowadays, home pregnancy tests for dogs like Witness Relaxin can be purchased online and used by eager owners to determine whether their pet is pregnant. These tests can be performed as early as 20–21 days after the luteinizing hormonal surge. Always wait at least three weeks after your dog concludes her heat cycle before attempting to use a home pregnancy test—this will ensure your results are reliable and you don't waste your money.

Safety Note

Even if you choose to use an at-home test to find out if your dog is pregnant, you should still take her to the vet. Your veterinarian will be able to ensure your dog is in good health and that her pregnancy appears normal.

Pregnant dogs' nipples often become noticeably enlarged early on in the gestation process.
Pregnant dogs' nipples often become noticeably enlarged early on in the gestation process. | Source

How to Use a Dog Pregnancy Test

The test requires a blood sample from your dog, and this can be challenging for some owners. Because these tests work on plasma, you will need access to a centrifuge in order to separate your dog's plasma from the rest of her blood sample. If this is not an option, you can have the vet take care of this part of the process for you. For a small fee, they will use their own equipment to spin the blood for you. If you prefer, you can ask your vet to extract the blood as well. Once the plasma is obtained, you can finish up the test yourself.

The At-Home Dog Pregnancy Test Process

  1. Extract blood
  2. Separate plasma from blood using a centrifuge
  3. Test plasma
  4. View results

These kits are especially useful for breeders since most packages come with five individual tests. They are also great for distinguishing real pregnancy from pseudopregnancy or false pregnancy. Results are fast—the test only takes about 10 minutes.

Kits are available online for those who would like to test at home, but if you do not have the requisite equipment, you can have the entire process performed at your vet's office. Unfortunately, a urine test to detect pregnancy in dogs has yet to be invented, and using a pregnancy test designed for humans won't work.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2008 Adrienne Farricelli

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    • profile image

      Darlene Graham 

      7 months ago

      Is there a dog at home pregnancy test? And are they accurate!

    • profile image

      David 

      15 months ago

      My dog was exactly 6wks old last Christmas and has a long stringy whitish stringlike discharge from her vagina and her nipples are now just poking out enough to distinguish the actual nipple poking out and the outer area is now visible thru her dark fur and light pink in color. We have a male dog in the house that has access to her and we are worried she might be pregnant. Any comments to help us know further what to look for to know this early as all these changes are apx 2 weeks old now.

    • profile image

      Dr k Ramkrishnan BVSc 

      24 months ago

      Very nice

    • profile image

      terry 

      8 years ago

      my dog was given the test at 34 days showed negitive but had sign of forming a mucus plug in the beginning of the breeding

    • profile image

      Julie 

      8 years ago

      Have you ever seen a dog have a positive and a week later negative when/if they abort a litter?

    • profile image

      Peggy 

      8 years ago

      I have used these preg. test numerous time (20 or so) and they have been 100% accurate. I like this test because it gives me time to plan my life around my dog's pregnancy. I show dogs so I usually stop and concentrate on my new moms.

    • tectonic profile image

      tectonic 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Insightful hubpage that you have presented.

      Can’t wait to see your new hubs

    • profile image

      anne 

      9 years ago

      none of these talk about a bulging belly. looks like milk under those nipples and he belly is not flat but defined.

    • profile image

      Caroline 

      9 years ago

      My dog may or may

      not be pregnant it's very likely she is not but there has been the following signs; she is wanting more attention, she is not as playful she chews things even though she stopped months ago (almost a year) and she went to our cousins while we were away the she was likely in heat and they own her father who has gotten about 3 dogs pregnant. so is my dog pregnant or not?

    • profile image

      Rebecca 

      9 years ago

      My dog was 29 days from the last breeding when tested - bulldog. the test was negative. the vet suggested testing again. Can the test give a negative reading and then a positive reading? AI done with extender at 11.0 ng

    • profile image

      Rachael Revell 

      10 years ago

      this was very helpful! and all the signs are correct! thank you for all of your help.

    • profile image

      Stu Robertson 

      10 years ago

      Because the hormones present in a dogs urine are identical during heat, regardless of whether the dog is pregnant or not. Same applies to progesterone.

      This tests for relaxin, a hormone that is only present in pregnant bitches.

    • profile image

      Joe Kleinsmith 

      10 years ago

      Why can't the dogs urine be used on a stick like women.

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