How to Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant?

Finding out that your female dog is expecting puppies can be an exciting time. However, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs of pregnancy early on so that you can properly care for your pregnant pooch. Some signs are more obvious than others, so knowing how to tell if your dog is pregnant and what to look for can help you determine if your dog is really expecting.

What are the First Signs of a Dog Being Pregnant?

Some of the earliest signs that your dog may be pregnant include:

  • Morning sickness: Dogs experience a form of morning sickness similar to humans. You may notice vomiting and a loss of appetite in the morning that improves later in the day. This usually starts around 3-4 weeks into pregnancy.
  • Enlarged or swollen nipples: One of the most obvious signs of dog pregnancy is enlarged or swollen nipples. This is due to the body preparing to produce milk. You’ll notice the nipples becoming enlarged around 1 month into pregnancy.
  • Weight gain: A pregnant dog’s weight will increase steadily, with most of the weight gain happening in the abdomen area. You may notice an extra 1-2 pounds in the first month.
  • Increased appetite: Expecting dogs tend to eat more to nourish the growing puppies. Track your dog’s food intake each day to detect increases.
  • Behavior changes: Some dogs become less energetic and more reclusive when pregnant. However, others may become more clingy and affectionate with their owner as the due date approaches.

How Long Does It Take a Dog to Show Signs of Pregnancy?

Dogs generally don’t start to show obvious physical signs of pregnancy until around 4 weeks or 1 month after conception. The most common first signs are enlarged nipples and some abdominal swelling.

However, some hormonal changes and morning sickness can begin as early as 2-3 weeks into the pregnancy. The time frame for seeing pregnancy signs can vary from one dog to the next though.

If you know when your dog was possibly bred, you can start looking for symptoms around 3-4 weeks after. Also keep an eye out for any changes in appetite, energy levels, or behavior in the early weeks.

How Can I Tell if My Dog is Pregnant Without a Test?

How Can I Tell if My Dog is Pregnant Without a Test?

A vet can run tests to confirm pregnancy in dogs. However, there are some ways you can look for signs of pregnancy at home without an official test:

  • Gently feel your dog’s abdomen to detect any swelling or firm masses in the uterus area. This is usually noticeable around 4 weeks.
  • Check the nipples for enlargement and redness. Express a small amount of fluid to check for discharge.
  • Monitor weight gain and appetite changes. A pregnant dog will steadily gain weight.
  • Pay attention to lethargy, nesting behavior, and other changes that signal hormonal shifts.
  • Look for morning sickness and vomiting in the early weeks.
  • As the due date approaches, the abdomen swells up quite a bit and you may even see and feel puppies moving.

If you notice multiple physical and behavioral changes over time, chances are your dog is expecting a litter. But a vet exam is the best way to confirm.

Can You Use a Human Pregnancy Test on a Dog?

Human pregnancy tests look for the hCG hormone. This hormone is only present when a human is pregnant, not in dog pregnancies. So a human pregnancy test will not work on dogs.

There are specialty pregnancy test kits made specifically for dogs that test for canine pregnancy hormones like relaxin. These tests can be purchased at vet offices or pet supply stores.

Some options include the Witness Relaxin Canine Pregnancy Test and the IDEXX Relaxin Test. These tests use a blood sample from the dog to detect pregnancy hormones.

How do Dogs Hint at Pregnancy?

Dogs will show some subtle signs that hint at a suspected pregnancy before obvious physical changes occur. Here are some of the ways a dog might hint that she’s expecting:

  • Acting more clingy and needy for attention
  • Having a reduced appetite in the first few weeks
  • Vomiting in the morning then acting normal later in the day
  • Wanting to sleep more or acting less energetic
  • Having minor abdominal swelling or weight gain
  • Developing a nursing instinct with toys or blankets
  • Seeking more privacy or alone time

These are often the earliest clues that a dog may be going through hormonal and physical changes related to pregnancy before outward signs appear. Paying close attention can help detect these subtle hints.

What Does a 1-Week Pregnant Dog Look Like?

At 1 week pregnant, a dog’s physical appearance will not show any obvious signs of pregnancy yet. This is because dog sperm can live inside the female for up to 1 week after mating.

So fertilization may not yet have occurred at 1 week after breeding took place. Most physical pregnancy signs will not be noticeable until at least 4 weeks after conception.

Some subtle hints in 1 week may include:

  • Mild swelling of nipples
  • Slightly enlarged abdomen
  • Increased affection or need for attention
  • Moodiness

So there won’t be much of a visual difference in a 1 week-pregnant dog. The dog may act a little differently behaviorally but won’t yet have the classic pregnancy signs of weight gain, swollen belly, or enlarged nipples. Those develop later on.

Will a Dog Still Bleed If Pregnant?

Will a Dog Still Bleed If Pregnant?

It is possible for some dogs to have mild bleeding or spotting in the early stages of pregnancy. This may last for up to 1-2 weeks after conception occurs.

However, once a dog is fully pregnant and the embryo implants in the uterus, any bloody discharge or estrous bleeding should stop completely. Dogs go out of heat and no longer bleed when pregnant.

If you notice your dog continuing to spot heavily or have bloody discharges 3-4 weeks after breeding, it could indicate a health issue or that pregnancy did not occur. Check with your vet to be sure. But in a normal canine pregnancy, heavy bleeding does not persist past the first couple weeks after mating.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Getting Pregnant After Mating?

Unfortunately, once mating happens, there are limited options for preventing pregnancy:

  • Spay abort surgery – This vet procedure terminates the dog’s pregnancy by surgically removing the uterus and ovaries. It must be done in the first 4 weeks after breeding.
  • Mismating shot – An injection of alizarin can terminate a pregnancy when given very early on, ideally within 48 hours after mating.
  • Wait it out – If it’s been over 4 weeks and your dog is pregnant, the safest option is to wait out the pregnancy and plan for the pups or make arrangements through your vet. Attempting home remedies or termination methods would be risky and harmful.

The most effective way to prevent unwanted breeding is to have your pet spayed. If she accidentally mates before spaying, the options are limited so act very quickly or allow the pregnancy to continue. Discuss any concerns with your vet.

Do Female Dogs Bleed After Mating?

It is normal for female dogs to sometimes spot or have light vaginal bleeding after mating. When a female dog is in heat, her vulva and vaginal area has increased blood flow. This can result in some residual bloody discharge after breeding occurs.

The bleeding should be minimal and last no more than 1-2 weeks. Excessive or prolonged bleeding could signify an issue like infection, trauma, or pregnancy complications. As long as the discharge is light pink or red and resolves quickly, it is likely just residual from the heat cycle and mating.

However, once the dog is fully pregnant, the discharge should transition to clear or milky secretions as hormone levels change. If heavy bloody discharge persists over 2-3 weeks after mating, you should take your dog to the vet for an exam. But some minor spotting immediately after is usually normal. Monitor the color and volume of discharge closely.

In Summary

How to Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant

Determining if your dog is pregnant early on takes keen observation of physical and behavioral changes. It’s important to track symptoms like weight gain, enlarged nipples, appetite changes, lethargy, and abdominal swelling. Hints like moodiness, clinginess, and morning sickness may appear in the first few weeks too. While human pregnancy tests won’t work, vet blood tests and ultrasounds can confirm dog pregnancy. If you don’t want your dog to have puppies, options like spay abort must be done almost immediately after breeding. While it’s exciting news, ensure you are fully prepared for the demands of whelping and raising a litter before your beloved dog’s due date arrives.


Paying close attention to your dog’s symptoms, behaviors, appetite, energy levels, and physical changes are all keys to identifying a suspected pregnancy early. While some signs like swollen nipples and a growing belly are obvious in later weeks, even subtle hints like moodiness could indicate your dog is expecting. Working closely with your veterinarian for exams and confirmation is highly recommended for the healthiest outcome for mom and puppies. If unwanted breeding occurs, be aware of your very limited options to terminate the pregnancy humanely and safely. With the proper care and support, your pregnant pooch can have a smooth pregnancy and delivery experience.


Q: How soon can I tell if my dog is pregnant?

A: You may notice subtle signs as early as 2-3 weeks in. But most dogs start to show obvious signs like swollen nipples and growing bellies around 4 weeks after conception. If you know the mating date, look for symptoms from 3-4 weeks onwards.

Q: Do dogs normally bleed when pregnant?

A: Minor bleeding for 1-2 weeks after mating can be normal. However, once pregnancy is established, heavy bloody discharge is not normal and may indicate issues. Pregnant dogs should not have estrous bleeding.

Q: What does a dog’s water breaking look like?

A: Near labor, the pregnant dog’s mucus plug will rupture and release whitish fluid. This is similar to when a pregnant woman’s water breaks before giving birth. Call your vet once you see the fluid or other signs that labor has begun.

Q: How can you tell how many puppies a dog is having?

A: An X-ray or ultrasound from your vet is the most accurate way to count puppies in the litter. Palpating the abdomen can give a rough estimate of puppy count as well. Bigger litters tend to create more obvious abdominal swelling.

Q: Are pregnant dogs moodier?

A: Yes, hormonal changes can cause more moodiness similar to human pregnancy. Your dog may act more tired, emotional, needy, or aloof during her pregnancy. Be patient with her and provide comfort and affection as her body goes through changes.

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