Signs and symptoms of pregnancy in a dog

Written by jamie conrad
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Signs and symptoms of pregnancy in a dog
Dogs show outward symptoms when they are pregnant. (mother dog with puppy image by Phaedra Wilkinson from

Perhaps you recently bred your dog and are anxiously awaiting any small sign that you have furry little bundles of joy on the way. Or perhaps your dog made a new acquaintance and now you're desperately hoping that puppies are not the end result. Either way, there are a few clues to help you determine if your dog is pregnant. Dogs usually deliver puppies between 52 and 74 days after becoming pregnant, and the first signs of pregnancy are usually visible about two weeks after mating.

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Breast Changes

Look at your dog's nipples. Two weeks after mating, the nipples begin to look larger and become darker in colour. About three weeks after mating, fur around the nipples begins to thin out and become more sparse (this allows puppies to find the nipples more easily when nursing). Also, your dogs teats will grow larger as they prepare for milk production.

Morning Sickness

Dogs can experience morning sickness just as humans do. However, dogs rarely vomit when experiencing morning sickness. Most likely your dog will simply lose her appetite and refuse food. Canine morning sickness occurs around three to four weeks into the pregnancy.


When your dog is about one month pregnant, you can actually listen for (and hear) little heartbeats of the puppies. Gently press a stethoscope to your dog's abdomen and listen for soft thumps. You will not be able to determine the number of puppies by the heartbeats, but hearing heartbeats is a definite sign of dog pregnancy.

Abdomen Changes

About a month after becoming pregnant, your dog's abdomen begins to grow pretty rapidly, an obvious outward sign of pregnancy. Gently feel your dog's abdomen for small, walnut-sized lumps (these are the puppies). Six weeks after becoming pregnant, you can feel the puppies moving around in your dog's abdomen. However, by this point, you will definitely be able to see that your dog is pregnant and should not need to feel for movement to determine if your dog is pregnant.

Behavioural Changes

Your dog may prefer to be left alone during pregnancy and withdraw from you and your family. However, some dogs want even more attention and affection from family members when they become pregnant. Other dogs show no behavioural changes at all.

Appetite Changes

After the morning sickness passes, look for an appetite increase in your dog. With increased appetite comes increased body weight, so look for your dog to begin gaining weight as she begins eating more food.

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