pregnant dog behavior

How Pregnant Dogs Change Behavior

When a dog is pregnant, their behavior changes greatly. From increased energy levels to mood swings, it can be difficult for pet owners to adjust and understand what their pup needs during this special time. It is important to recognize the signs of pregnancy in dogs so that you can provide them with the best care and support possible. When expecting a new puppy, pet owners may not be aware of the changes in behavior that they can expect to see from their furry friend. Pregnant dogs often show significant behavioral differences, which can be both positive and negative depending on the individual dog. In this article, we’ll explore how pregnant dogs change behavior and what you can do to help your pup through this exciting time.

Signs Of Pregnancy In Dogs:

Have you noticed your dog acting a bit lazier than usual, or perhaps eating less of her evening meals? These can be signs of pregnancy, and if she otherwise seems healthy and happy, you may have puppies on the way!

Some of these symptoms can also be signs of illness, so it’s important to have any marked change in appearance, appetite, or activity level checked out. Of course, if you think your dog may be pregnant, you have a much happier reason to bring her to the vet! Here are 5 signs to watch for:

1. Decreased Activity

If your dog easily becomes exhausted or is spending more time napping, it may indicate that she is pregnant. For dogs that are typically energetic, this decrease should be taken seriously. For dogs that already enjoy snoozing all day, it may be harder to notice a decrease in energy. If that’s the case, try paying closer attention to how quickly she tires during walks.

2. Changes In Appetite

A pregnant dog’s appetite can fluctuate in different ways, depending on the dog and the stage of her pregnancy. Early or midway into the pregnancy, she may eat less or even vomit occasionally (the canine equivalent of morning sickness). However, she may also eat more than usual and be dissatisfied with her meals. These fluctuations correspond with your dog’s changing hormones.

3. Unusual Behavior

If your dog is pregnant, you may notice certain changes in her behavior. For instance, she may seek the comfort of her owner more often. A pregnant dog might spend more time at your side, looking for extra attention. On the other hand, a pregnant dog may seek isolation and not wish to be bothered; she may seem depressed or even irritable when given attention.

4. Enlarged Or Discolored Nipples

While a female dog’s nipples are normally small, pregnancy causes her nipples to grow in size during the early stages of pregnancy. The areolas also become somewhat rounded compared to their usual flatness. You may also notice your dog’s nipples turning a slightly darker red than normal, which would indicate an increase in blood flow. Later into the pregnancy, her nipples may occasionally leak milk, as well.

5. Weight Gain And Enlarged Abdomen

As the puppies grow, your dog’s abdomen will expand in size. This can be one of the clearest indicators of a dog’s pregnancy, especially if your dog has no other reason for sudden weight gain. However, enlarging of the abdomen occurs relatively late into your dog’s pregnancy, meaning that if you notice this sign, along with others, it’s time to take her to the vet.

6. Nesting Behaviors

During the last few weeks of pregnancy, you may notice your dog begin to shred bedding and other available materials to create a nest. She may also become irritable and reclusive during this time, so it’s best to limit her contact with small children.

Compared with humans, dog gestation periods are a relatively short 56-70 days. As a result, acting quickly on signs of pregnancy is crucial to ensuring a comfortable, safe birth for your new puppies. After a proper examination, your local veterinarian can provide you with all of the instruction you need to properly care for your pregnant pet.

Do you think your

dog may be pregnant?

please contact your vetarnarian if she is pregnant.

Things You Need to Know When Your Dog is Pregnant for the First Time:

If you don’t know what to do when your dog is pregnant for the first time, it can put you under stress. Ease your anxieties by preparing for the pregnancy with these 5 things you need to know when you first discover your dog is pregnant. Then consult with your Veterinarian; doing so will give you confidence in caring for your pregnant dog which will also ease any anxieties she may have. 

Tips to Help You Care for Mom and Prepare for Puppies

Knowing how to care for your dog’s health during pregnancy, preparing for whelping and caring for her puppies will greatly assist you in providing optimal animal care. This knowledge is essential whether you are breeding, fostering, or caring for your own dog. As always, stay in touch with your animal care clinic for more specific needs of individual breeds.

1. How to Identify Your Dog Is Pregnant and What to Expect

Gestation for puppies can be from 57-71 days but is generally around 63 days. Recording when your dog mated will help you to determine the due date so you can take care of her through all of the pregnant dog stages. If you do not know when your dog mated, it could take about 3 weeks for you to see the signs.

 Signs your dog may be pregnant are: 

1.Lack of energy 

2.Morning sickness (just like humans) 

3.Changes in behavior 

4.Physical changes 

In the early stages of pregnancy, your dog will become exhausted easier. A lack of normal energy is easily discovered in energetic dogs. If your dog likes to snooze often, you may need to pay close attention while on walks for decreased energy. 

In the early to mid-pregnancy dog stages, your dog can get morning sickness and lose her appetite. You may find fluctuations in her eating patterns. Some days she may eat more and some days she may be dissatisfied with her food. A pregnant dog will often have behavior that is unusual for her. In the early stages, she may seek more attention from you. She may seek comfort from you by spending more time at your side than normal. Then again, she may prefer not to be bothered and can be irritated with attention. Just like us humans, pregnancy can be an emotional roller coaster for your dog too. Seek veterinary care if your dog is not acting like she normally does and exhibiting worrying symptoms. In the late stages of her pregnancy, she will display nesting behaviors like shredding materials for bedding. She may not want attention while “nesting” and can become snappy if bothered. 

Certainly a pregnant dog will have physical changes. In the early stages, her nipples will become discolored or enlarged. In the latter pregnant dog stages, her nipples may leak milk occasionally. Sudden weight gain and an enlarged abdomen is a definite clue your dog is pregnant. This happens later into your dog’s pregnancy, so if this is your first clue, it’s time to contact your Veterinarian soon.

2. How to Care for Your Pregnant Dog

Provide general animal care for the expecting dog making sure she is fed well and dewormed during pregnancy. Consult your Veterinarian for deworming your pregnant dog. 

It would be wise to get advice from your Veterinarian about how much and what to feed a pregnant dog and if additional supplements are recommended for your specific dog; this will give you confidence when you have questions about how to care for my pregnant dog. After your momma dog has given birth, remove all the soiled towels from her whelping box and replace them with clean towels often to keep her nest clean. The birthing process takes a lot of energy out of mom as well as her pups so she needs a quiet, warm place for her and the new puppies to sleep after giving birth. Gently clean her up with a warm damp cloth when she is awake and refreshed from a good rest after the birthing process. Make sure any soap residue is wiped off, especially around her nipples to keep it away from the puppies. A regular bath will have to wait for a few weeks. 

After the puppies are born, you should feed your momma dog small meals more often in place of one large one. She will need more calories and may eat up to 4 times as much as normal. She will especially need more calcium, protein, and water. Her regular dog food is likely fine but again, check with your Veterinarian if you aren’t sure.

3. When to Take Your Pregnant Dog to the Vet

Your dog will probably do just fine on her own while delivering her puppies, but just in case a problem should arise, contact your Veterinarian for advice. For example, some dogs that are pregnant for the first time may have a problem removing the birth sac after the puppies are born. First allow your dog time to remove it herself. If she does not remove it fairly quickly, the puppy will not be able to breathe. You may need to tear a hole for her so the puppy can take its first breath. Discuss this possibility with your Veterinarian for the best procedure to tear the hole prior to the birthing process so that you are prepared if this happens. Other times, it will be necessary to take your dog to the Veterinarian.

Take your pregnant dog into the animal clinic when:

  • Your dog is sick or does not seem like herself, before, during, or after whelping
  • She is exhausted with a long labor time
  • She has been straining for 20-30 minutes without successfully delivering a pup. A blockage could be the cause requiring emergency pet surgery.
  • She is bleeding – It is normal for your dog to have bloody fluid during the birthing process, but more than a few drops of blood is not normal and you will need to contact the Veterinarian immediately. 
  • A puppy is stuck – A puppy can become stuck for several reasons. It could be because the puppy is too large, deformed, or is in the wrong position but whatever the reason – call the vet immediately. Do not help the puppy out yourself – this could cause a veterinary scare.

4. How to Prepare for the Whelping and Puppies

Pregnant dogs usually do not need your help during labor and delivery. Some dogs will like their owner to be with them while others prefer seclusion when whelping. It is best to avoid interfering as much as possible when your dog prefers to be left alone. You should however, make preparations for the puppies and your whelping dog. Find a warm, comfortable, and secluded room and provide a whelping box. The whelping box should be large enough for your dog to stretch out and turn around in. Also, the whelping box should be high enough to keep the puppies corralled, yet low enough for your dog to easily step over. Line the whelping box with old towels that are clean and absorbent. 

As always, reach out to your Veterinarian for their advice for whelping preparations and how to care for the puppies when they arrive. Keep the phone number to the animal care clinic handy in case you need help during or after birth.

Tips for the newborn Pups:

  • Newborn puppies need a warm environment. The temperature of a puppy should be between 94-99 degrees Fahrenheit. Taking their temperature will confirm they are staying warm.
  • With clean hands, guide each pup to a nipple to nurse. They should naturally latch on after smelling the milk. Use a postal scale to weigh the puppies every day for three weeks to make sure they are growing and gaining weight. At four weeks old, the pups are not considered newborn anymore and will explore their surroundings. They should be weaned at 7 weeks and are ready for their forever homes at 8 weeks. 

5. How to Know Your Dog is about to Give Birth and What to Do

Especially when your dog is pregnant for the first time, going through the pre-labor stages and delivering the puppies can frighten her. Knowing the signs a dog is going into labor soon will assist you to calm her fears. Understanding newborn puppy care will help the mother and her puppies during the first stages of life. 

Before your dog goes into labor, her body temperature will drop from 101 to 102.5 Fahrenheit to the 98-99 range. When her temperature drops, her behaviour will change. We recommend that you begin taking your dog’s rectal temperature every morning 10-14 days before her due date. This will set a baseline for her normal temperature, and if it falls below normal, she will most likely whelp within 24 hours. She will begin to pant, pace around and refuse to eat. Some dogs will vomit. Then her nesting behavior will kick in; this is a good time to place her in the whelping box. This pre-delivery labor stage can last from 6 to 12 hours. Towards the end of this stage, her cervix will be completely dilated. 

During the final stage of labor you will be able to see her contractions. The muscles in her abdomen will tense up and she will start straining in a similar posture of having a bowel movement. Her first pup should be born 1-2 hours from the time contractions begin. It will not be unusual if your dog takes a rest for a few hours before delivering the rest of the litter. She may not rest after each delivery and several puppies can be born soon after. After the puppies are born, the placentas and afterbirth will be expelled. There should be the same number of placentas as there are puppies. If the mother is not cleaning her puppies, you may need to help her out. Wipe the puppy clean until you hear it crying and place it into position to nurse. 

Veterinary Specialists :

Call us when you need to know what to do when your dog is pregnant for the first time. Every aspect of your dog’s health is important to us at Chipman Road Animal Clinic. Through prenatal care, labor, and delivery you will receive the best animal care for your momma dog and her litter of pups. 

 Our excellent veterinarians will care for all of your pet’s health care needs including:

  • Animal Hospital/Emergency care
  •  Dental care
  • Flea and Tick control
  • Microchipping
  • Personalized medical care
  • Puppy and Kitten care 
  • Spay and Neuter
  • Vaccinations
  • Wellness exams

Frequently Asked Questions:

A pregnant dog doesn't typically show physical signs of pregnancy until about day 40 of pregnancy. Around this time, the belly will begin to noticeably expand, continuing to do so for around three weeks. The nipples will also enlarge and in the final week of pregnancy, they may leak milk.

Hormone test At about 25-to-30 days of gestation, your veterinarian can perform a blood test to measure the dog's hormone levels to see if she is producing the hormone relaxing. Relaxing is only produced during pregnancy, making the test relatively accurate.

Your dog will seem like their normal self, although they may gain some weight. Morning sickness affects some dogs, but only for a few days during the 3rd or 4th week. (It's caused by hormone changes.) Your pet may seem tired, and they may eat less than usual

Nowadays, home pregnancy tests for dogs like Witness Relaxin can be purchased online and used by eager owners to determine whether their pet is pregnant. These tests can be performed as early as 20–21 days after the luteinizing hormonal surge

Human pregnancy tests aren't effective in dogs, because they detect a telltale hormone, known as human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG, which isn't produced by canines.


In conclusion, pregnant dogs can experience a variety of behavioral changes throughout their pregnancy. From increased affection and protective behavior to changes in appetite, nesting habits, and restlessness, it is important for owners to be aware of the physical and psychological needs of their dog during this time. Ensuring that your pup gets plenty of rest, exercise, socialization, and nutrition is key to providing a comfortable and healthy environment for her during her pregnancy. Owners should also have patience as this period can last around nine weeks.

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