Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of Brain Training for Dogs.
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
- Inappetence (decreased appetite)
- Noticeable decrease in activity
- 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.
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
- Extract blood
- Separate plasma from blood using a centrifuge
- Test plasma
- 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
Kaylee on July 20, 2020:
Why do they Have NipelsIn large
Fortune Ogechi Martins on February 13, 2020:
I took my dog out for mating nd when I went back to get her, I noticed she wasn't walking well. Does it mean she was crossed?
Darlene Graham on May 05, 2019:
Is there a dog at home pregnancy test? And are they accurate!
David on September 02, 2018:
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.
Dr k Ramkrishnan BVSc on December 10, 2017:
terry on October 08, 2011:
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
Julie on October 04, 2011:
Have you ever seen a dog have a positive and a week later negative when/if they abort a litter?
Peggy on May 12, 2011:
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 from Singapore on February 19, 2011:
Insightful hubpage that you have presented.
Can’t wait to see your new hubs
anne on November 26, 2010:
none of these talk about a bulging belly. looks like milk under those nipples and he belly is not flat but defined.
Caroline on September 20, 2010:
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?
Rebecca on April 23, 2010:
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
Rachael Revell on July 13, 2009:
this was very helpful! and all the signs are correct! thank you for all of your help.
Stu Robertson on June 15, 2009:
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.
Joe Kleinsmith on June 10, 2009:
Why can't the dogs urine be used on a stick like women.