Dogs have relatively short pregnancies, with just a nine week gestation period. With such a short pregnancy, it is common to not know your dog is pregnant until the last few weeks, or sometimes not until they start to give birth! Finding out you have a litter of puppies on the way may be a pleasant surprise, but even so it is good to have time to prepare.
Therefore, here are 8 signs to look for that indicate your dog may be pregnant.
A sudden change in energy levels is one possible indicator that your dog is pregnant, and can be an early sign.
In the first few weeks of pregnancy in particular, changes in hormone levels can make your dog feel overly tired. You may notice your dog seems apathetic or lethargic. If they spend more time resting than usual or are less keen to play or exercise, this may be because they are pregnant.
2. Changes in Behavior
In almost all cases, pregnant dogs will experience behavioral changes. The exact nature of these changes can vary: for some dogs, in the early stages, they may become more affectionate and clingy than usual, probably as a reaction to the various changes that they are going through. Other dogs can become a little ill-tempered and want to be left alone.
Later in the pregnancy, most dogs will start to “nest”, just like humans do in the latter stages of pregnancy. This usually involves looking for nesting spots, or a safe place to give birth. This may means dragging their bed to a secure spot or scratching at the ground.
3. Body Changes
Changes to your dog’s body shape is one of the most obvious signs that your dog is pregnant, though this does not start to show until the second half of the pregnancy. This may show in your dog’s waist thickening, and her tummy filling out. If your dog is putting on weight but they are not pregnant, it may be time to put them on to a specialist food such as Visionary Pet ketogenic dog food.
Your dog will also likely experience breast development changes when pregnant. This is because as the pregnancy progresses, milk glands start to develop under the dog’s nipples. This change will be noticeable earlier than other body changes, around two weeks into the pregnancy.
4. Loss of Appetite
One of the first signs you may see in a pregnant dog is a drop-off in appetite. This is a little like morning sickness in humans, and you might notice that your dog is eating less, as they can experience nausea in the first two weeks of the pregnancy. This can mean dogs may skip a few meals, or eat less.
However, it should be noted that this is not a universal symptom, and not all dogs will experience this. Some dogs may also vomit occasionally in the early stages of the pregnancy. Also be careful as it is not healthy for dogs to miss too many meals: if they skip food three days in a row, call your vet for advice.
5. Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharge is another common occurrence in dogs during pregnancy. This sign usually appears later, at around four weeks into the pregnancy, almost halfway through. This discharge can be a clear to light pink liquid. The discharge is from the liquid that acts to keep the puppies safe, in particular, safe from infection.
Although this discharge is completely normal, there are some cases when this may indicate that something is wrong so you should call your vet immediately.
This includes if the discharge occurs less than four weeks into the pregnancy, or if the discharge is heavy and bloody, if it is mucus tinged with blood, has a bad odor, or if the discharge is any other color other than white, slightly cloudy or light pink.
6. Change to Nipple Color
Another sign of pregnancy in dogs to look out for is a change to the color of their nipples. During pregnancy, your dog’s nipples may become rosier in color. This change will be most noticeable in the last four or six nipples, that is, the nipples closest to the dog’s hind legs.
This change will usually occur around two weeks into the pregnancy, so it is an early sign to look out for, especially when it occurs in conjunction with breast development. In some cases, this change may be an intensification of the color that the nipples were before.