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Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs

By Lisa Mooney ; Updated June 13, 2017

An expectant dog will show signs of her pregnancy in the early stages as well as throughout her term. Many of these symptoms are akin to those of a human. An astute owner can often determine if his dog is pregnant by observing her behavior and the physical changes she undergoes. A canine's pregnancy generally lasts approximately two months, a relatively short amount of time, so it is essential an owner learn as early as possible that the animal is pregnant in order to prepare for the litter.

Appetite

A pregnant canine will undergo changes in appetite. Very early in the pregnancy, she may eat very little for several days. Encourage her to eat, as missing too many meals can leave her weak. As the pregnancy continues, she will begin eat almost double her normal amount, so have the extra food available for her.

Behavior

If your dog begins behaving differently from what is normal, it may be a sign of pregnancy. For example, if she has always been "clingy" but suddenly wants to be left alone, she may be exhibiting a change due to her condition. Conversely, if she has been generally independent minded and then suddenly wants constant attention, it may be a sign of impending motherhood.

Vomiting

As with pregnant women, dogs often experience a form of "morning sickness" in which they have bouts of vomiting. This usually occurs early in pregnancy (and can happen at any time of day despite the "morning" label), and may only be mucous spit-up rather than food.

Sleeping Habits

Another sign of pregnancy in a canine is excessive sleeping and resting. This symptom is seen both early and late with a marked increase right before she gives birth. Make sure your animal has quiet and comfortable areas in which to rest.

Abdomen and Nipple Enlargement

Your animal's abdomen will enlarge during pregnancy with a marked increase in the last weeks before birthing. If you palpate her abdomen during the final weeks, you should be able to feel the movement of the puppies. Her normally soft abdomen will firm. Her nipples will begin bulging late in pregnancy in preparation for lactation. In the very last stages, milk droplets will appear on her nipples.

Nesting

A heavily pregnant dog will look for a site in which to deliver her littler. She will likely choose an out-of-the-way spot that is comfortable for her. This action is referred to as "nesting" and occurs in the last stages of her term. You can put down bedding and a water and food dish in the area, but do not be surprised if she changes the location due to your having been there.

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