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March 26, 2013
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It can be tough to know if your dog is pregnant since the symptoms do not necessarily show up right away. Most tests will not reveal if a dog is pregnant until around three weeks into the pregnancy. Here are some ways you can determine if your dog is expecting:
Pregnancy Test: There are tests available that can detect your dog’s pregnancy by looking for a hormone named relaxin. The twist with these tests is that unlike human pregnancy tests, the hormone is only detectable within the dog’s blood. Obviously, that makes it challenging to administer this test at home, but most kits will include a syringe to remove some of your dog’s blood. This test can also be done at the veterinarian’s office if you are squeamish about taking the blood yourself.
Examining the dog’s abdomen: Once the dog’s pregnancy has advanced to around three weeks, or about a third of the way through the gestation period, your veterinarian can gently palpate your dog’s abdomen and feel for signs of the puppies. Note that only your veterinarian, or a trained professional, should do this palpating -- it’s easy to injure the puppies unintentionally during this procedure.
Abdominal X-Ray: An x-ray of the dog’s uterus can reveal if the dog is pregnant, and when administered fairly late in the dog’s gestational period, can show how many puppies the dog is expecting.
Abdominal Ultrasound: Ultrasounds can be done around the three or four week mark to see if the dog is pregnant. Although they can also be done earlier on, the ultrasounds may not detect the puppies accurately.
As well as taking a test, observing some -- or several -- of these common symptoms can be a tip-off to your dog’s pregnancy in the early weeks:
disinterest in food
enlarged and darkened nipples
hair loss around the nipples
apathy and reduced energy
being more distant from you than usual
Note that you cannot use a human pregnancy test to see if your dog is pregnant. A human pregnancy test and a dog pregnancy test aim to detect different hormones. There are no urine tests available to check a dog’s pregnancy.
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.
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