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How to Palpate a Pregnant Dog

Updated April 11, 2017

Awaiting the arrival of new puppies can be a very exciting time for your family. Preparing ahead of time for the litter will make the birth less stressful for both you and your dog. You can determine if your dog is pregnant and get an idea of how many puppies to expect by palpitating your dog. Early palpitation may confirm a pregnancy and later palpitation will help you get an estimate of the size of the litter. It is a simple procedure, but must be done carefully to protect the health of your dog and her litter.

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  1. Place the dog standing on the floor. Keep her calm and do not hover over her head. Limit the number of people around the dog and keep everyone from exciting her.

  2. Place your hands around the dog's chest, just below the ribcage. Watch for a reaction from your dog before proceeding. If she becomes nervous or aggressive do not continue.

  3. Move your hands down toward the pelvis and squeeze the abdomen very gently. Watch for discomfort or distress from your dog and use less pressure if she reacts.

  4. Feel for bumps and movement in the abdomen. Identify as many unique bumps as you can. This may give you a rough idea of how many puppies are in the litter, but it depends on how far along your dog is in her pregnancy.

  5. Tip

    It is difficult to detect the puppies early in pregnancy. It is best to have a veterinarian examine the dog and perform an ultrasound.


    Be careful not to push too hard on the dog's abdomen. This can be dangerous to her and the puppies.

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About the Author

Risa Edwards is a librarian who works for a small private university. She has a degree in geology and library science, but is interested in topics from across many disciplines. Edwards enjoys using her research skills to help others as well as continuing to broaden her own knowledge.

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