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7 Ways to Tell if Your Dog Is Pregnant

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He works mostly with dogs and exotic animals.

Even if the results are not whay you expect, this event should have a happy ending.

Even if the results are not whay you expect, this event should have a happy ending.

How Can You Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant?

Since gestation lasts about 63 days, any dog owner should know when their dog was bred and should also be able to tell if she is pregnant. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Sometimes, dogs climb over fences, and accidents happen. Sometimes a dog can be bred and not become pregnant. That's why it's so important that all dog owners know how to tell if their dog is pregnant.

7 Signs That a Dog Is Pregnant

  1. She has a reduced-then-increased appetite.
  2. She's producing a mucous-like discharge.
  3. Her abdomen is swollen.
  4. She has a palpated uterus.
  5. She has elevated hormone levels.
  6. An x-ray shows her puppies.
  7. She's secreting milk.
She looks pregnant!

She looks pregnant!

1. Reduced-Then-Increased Appetite

Weeks one to three are usually not abnormal in any way. A few dogs experience a reduced appetite at first that then increases later. Some dogs might sleep a little more. Your dog will probably act the same as usual, and only some dogs will have enlarged nipples. Even if your dog is not pregnant, though, her nipples might become enlarged after her heat cycle is over, so don't count on this as a sign of pregnancy.

2. Mucous-Like Discharge

Your dog may start to have a mucous-like discharge from her vagina around weeks four or five after being bred. This can last until the end of her pregnancy. As long as it does not smell or look green or yellow there is nothing to worry about.

3. Swollen Abdomen

She may have a swollen abdomen after about day 20. You may not be able to feel any changes inside her. If she starts to look pregnant, make sure you take her for a walk every day. She really needs to stay in shape and be ready for what is about to happen.

4. Palpated Uterus

Your dog's uterus can usually be palpated (touched and massaged) after about a month, and some vets and experienced breeders can even count the puppies at this point. Don’t worry if the puppies are carried up high and can't be found.

5. Elevated Hormone Level

You can take her in for an ultrasound or a blood test after about day 30. Not all clinics have access to an ultrasound, and the ultrasound may be more expensive than the blood test, so be sure to ask and compare. If you decide to have the blood test, most dogs show an elevated hormone level (relaxin), so you can find out if she is pregnant. A few, mostly those dogs who have small litters, show false negatives.

6. X-Ray Confirmation

If you really want to, you can have her abdomen X-rayed after day 45. The pregnancy can be confirmed, and you can tell how many puppies to expect. You can usually feel the puppies moving around by that age.

7. Milk Secretions

She may start having milk discharge from her nipples.

Some pregnancies are more obvious than others.

Some pregnancies are more obvious than others.

How Can I Be Sure?

If you really want to be sure that your dog is pregnant, you need to take her to your veterinarian. There are several things that can be done.

How a Vet Can Tell if Your Dog Is Pregnant

  • Ultrasound examination
  • Relaxin blood test
  • X-ray

I do not recommend an X-ray; if your vet has an ultrasound machine available, that is the safest procedure and can even give you an idea of how many puppies your dog is carrying. If you choose not to have any of these procedures performed, and you do not see puppies moving around, it is possible that your dog has a false pregnancy.

A false pregnancy will not harm your dog, but it is sad to watch her build a nest, collect her favorite toys, and attempt to care for her “puppies.” There are some hormones that can be given, once you are sure she is not pregnant, but medications all have side effects and should be avoided if possible. The main thing to do, if you find out she is not pregnant, is to reduce her food intake or not increase it as you would with a female providing nutrients to a litter of puppies.

Dogs do not need to be bred, and unless you have a specific reason to raise the puppies, you should have your dog spayed to avoid pregnancy or false pregnancy. If she is pregnant, though, and you are willing to handle and find homes for the puppies, enjoy the experience!

If your dog becomes pregnant, it's important to have a plan in place for the puppies.

If your dog becomes pregnant, it's important to have a plan in place for the puppies.

More About Breeding Your Dog

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.

© 2012 Mark dos Anjos DVM


vallerie. westrick 1@gmail.comt on October 16, 2016:

Awesome.. Congrads on puppies ,you will know for sure soon !sounds like it.. Love

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 07, 2016:

Hi Joanne, with tea cup puppies I would really recommend you find a vet that is proficient with ultrasound and follow the pregnancy with him. If your regular vet does not ultrasound dogs get a recommendation to another vet that does so.

Good luck to both of you. I hope all goes well these next few weeks.

Joanne O'Donnell on May 06, 2016:

I have a tea cup yorkie and I've tried to breed her with the exact same stud who's successfully pregnated other yorkies. It was the 9th of April when she was between 5-6 days in heat, could you advise me how to know if she's pregnant? She's got athe swollen vagina with the dark line down it, she's had sickness the first 2wks after mating, she's been tired a lot, she's been making a nest with all her toys and blankets in her cage, so she's defiantly showing all the signs of being pregnant. Ssmetimes I think I can feel 'something' although I know it could just be her bowel movements. Is it possible that I don't need to feel puppies and they can be up in her ribs? I know tea cup yorkies may only carry a couple or a few puppies- although her mother did have 5 females and both mother and father lived together and were just a little bigger than my Rosie and her sisters! Sorry for the story :-\

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

Joanne :-)