How to Know if Your Dog is Pregnant

Knowing if your your dog is pregnant can be difficult because they don't show for an extended period of time and there is no at home pregnancy test for pets. However, there are a number of signs and symptoms to look for that can help you determine whether your pooch as a bun in the oven.

First, it is important to know whether or not your dog has reached the age of sexual maturity. All breeds are different so do some research to find out whether your dog is old enough to be pregnant. There are a few behavioral changes you can look for as well to determine if your dog is pregnant. Usually during pregnancy dogs become very loving and will want to spend a lot of time with you, snuggling, relaxing or even sitting on your lap. They might also be very protective of their toys - even to the point that they may become upset if you try to take their toys away. These sign might be as clues, but to be sure your dog is pregnant you'll need to take her to the vet.

The earliest method of pregnancy detection is ultrasound. This is preferable for many pet owners because it is easy, noninvasive and very reliable. Fetal heartbeats can be detected before the first full month of pregnancy. However, this method is not a reliable way to determine how many babies the mother is carrying.

Another method of detecting pregnancy in your dog is via a blood test performed at your veterinarian's office. The canine reproductive cycle causes dogs to go through roughly the same hormonal changes regardless of whether or not she is pregnant. This is why tradition progesterone blood and urine tests can not be used in diagnosing pregnancy in dogs. However, your vet can perform a blood test that will detect relaxin, a hormone that is produced only in dogs that are pregnant. This test can be accurately performed roughly one month after gestation, or at about the same time an heartbeat can be detected via ultrasound.

Most veterinarians can verify that a dog is pregnant by simply feeling the dog's abdomen during a ten day time span at the beginning of your dog's pregnancy. Around 20 to 30 days after conception a pregnant dog's uterus will swell around the placental sites. The swelling feels like firm, discrete lumps that your vet should be able to detect just by feeling your dog's abdomen. However, after the 30 day mark, the uterine swelling is not as easy to detect and it is difficult to distinguish between the feel of the uterus and the feel of the intestinal tract. Also, obese dogs may be difficult to examine in any stage because the extra layers of fat over their abdomen prevents the vet from being able to get a good feel of the dog's internal organs.

The most accurate way to detect pregnancy in a dog is by performing an x-ray. The skeleton of a fetus can be detected by using an x-ray machine about 45 days after conception. Although this test cannot be done until late in gestation, it allows the vet to accurately determine how many fetuses your dog is carrying. Most vets will charge their patients about $25-$35 for the x-ray in addition to the office visit charge.

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