Can Dogs Detect Pregnancy?

Can dogs detect pregnancies? Are they able to predict the imminent birth of the baby? We invite you to discover the answers to these questions.
Can Dogs Detect Pregnancy?
Samuel Sanchez

Reviewed and approved by the biologist Samuel Sanchez.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Canine intelligence is indisputable, but can dogs detect pregnancy? Many women have said that their dogs started to behave differently when they became pregnant. Many even say that this change in behavior was what alerted them to the pregnancy without knowing it. Could it be true?

Some experts claim that it’s true that dogs detect pregnancy. The way they can tell is very curious, and it’s based, mainly, on detecting changes in their environment and in the behavior of the pregnant woman. However, there’s much more to find out about this fascinating subject, so read on!

How can dogs detect pregnancy?

Dogs have an unusual ability to detect and react to changes in their environment. This goes beyond seeing new things around them, for example, everything that involves preparing for the arrival of a baby. Although it may seem unlikely, these animals can also smell changes around them.

Observing changes

Dogs observe their owners very closely and are very sensitive to both physiological and emotional changes. They can tell if someone is sad or happy, because any movement, sound, and attitude that we emit near them are signals that put them on alert.

When a woman becomes pregnant, her routine changes. Sleep schedules are sometimes upset, at any given time work hours change, their emotions change and new things need to be organized, not to mention the physical change that pregnancy implies.

The fact that the dog will get less activity also influences this – we’re talking here about playtime, the time for walks, and other activities. The dog notices all of this and knows that something is happening.

A pregnant woman with a dog.

Can dogs smell hormones?

A dog’s sense of smell is much more developed than a human being’s and they can detect smells that humans miss. Due to their great olfactory sense, they’re able to distinguish hormonal changes from the variation of the secretions that take place in the body.

Precisely for this reason, there are trained dogs that can detect diabetes, epilepsy and other diseases, sometimes saving people’s lives. In the case of pregnancy, many hormones are activated and these can influence a woman’s smell: human chorionic gonadotropin, prolactin, progesterone, etc.

As a result of this – and although it isn’t known for sure – some experts believe that it makes sense to think that they are able to directly detect these changes in pregnant women.

Therefore, if we add to this the way dogs see the world around them and all the anecdotes told by pregnant women, it’s logical to think that dogs are capable of knowing that something new is happening.

However, and although this is enough evidence for many people to affirm that dogs detect pregnancies, we should clarify that experts still don’t know how animals interpret these changes that they detect.

How do dogs react to pregnancy?

If it’s true that dogs can detect pregnancies, the next question to ask is how they react to them. Each dog is different, so the answer to this will depend on two factors. On the one hand, there’s the character of the dog and, on the other, its relationship with the pregnant woman.

Among the most commonly seen dog behavior when their owners are expecting a baby, some professionals state that the following:

  • The dog is more alert and protective, even protecting the woman’s belly with its paws or barking and growling at those who approach her.
  • Some dogs become more affectionate than normal.
  • Others become more dependent and constantly demand pampering.
  • Some behave very negatively, and display behavior that they didn’t have before. For example, urinating inside the home or breaking things — sometimes new belongings that arrive for the baby.
  • Other dogs may become more suspicious and move away from the pregnant woman.

We should also consider that, sometimes, the reactions reported by pregnant owners are their subjective view of events. Thus, humans may consider a change in their pet’s attitude, when there really isn’t any.

Can dogs predict childbirth?

We can’t confirm this for certain, as there’s no research to prove it. Even so, and going back to what we mentioned above, what we do know is that dogs are able to detect change. Of course, there are many variations in the smell and behavior of a woman who is going to give birth.

Contractions, restlessness, postural changes, and much more can be seen with the naked eye. All this would suggest that dogs can detect not only the changes that pregnancies cause, but also perceive that a great event, such as childbirth, is approaching.

How to handle changes in dog behavior due to a pregnancy?

If the dog’s behavior changes when their owner becomes pregnant, then you should pay attention to this. The first thing is to ensure that the dog is in good health, as it may be the case that the dog is getting sick at that time. If you confirm that your dog is fine, then you’ll need to devote certain attention to the dog, as indicated by experts.

Your pet may be nervous about all the changes, so try to distract and reassure them. Also, as far as possible, the animal’s routine shouldn’t be changed. For example, if it’s very difficult for the pregnant woman to take them for a walk, then you should look for someone who can.

This will also help the dog to adapt to the woman not being able to attend to it so much when the baby is born. On the other hand, if you know for sure that there are going to be changes in the animal’s routine that can’t be avoided, then the dog will have to get used to these gradually.

Of course, it’s very important that, even though at certain times the pregnant woman may not be able to be with the dog, she doesn’t reject it completely. If she does then the dog may become either more dependent or aggressive as a result.

Before the baby’s arrival

In addition to all of this, it’s essential that the dog should gradually get used to the presence of the baby, even before its arrival. This involves letting them into your room to peek and smell, all properly supervised.

It’s also important to show them the baby’s items and give them a reward so that positive associations are created. All this together will mean that, when the baby is born, this is the only new thing for the animal and, in addition, it won’t see it as a threat.

A bitch with a pregnant woman.

As we’ve said, it isn’t possible to 100% confirm that dogs detect pregnancy, although we do know that they notice the changes that occur. In addition, we do know that a pregnancy and the arrival of a new member of the family is a massive change, and for dogs it also represents a paradigm shift.

Helping the animal to adapt to the new member of the household is the owner’s responsibility. Only in this way will you prevent them from suffering from anxiety or stress. If you follow all these guidelines, then, without a doubt, your dog will become your baby’s best friend.

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