Pregnancy Testing In Dogs – Everything You Need To Know

The pregnancy period in dogs – which lasts for between 8 to 9 weeks – is considerably short, compared to humans; Hence, this is why it’s important to detect your furry friend’s pregnancy early, and make arrangements to ensure there are no complications, both during the gestation period, and when it is time for delivery. So, how can you test for pregnancy in dogs?

You can carry out a pregnancy test on a dog by visiting the vet to perform a blood test or an ultrasound. Additionally, a vet can carry out a physical examination of the dog’s abdomen to determine whether or not such a pooch is pregnant. Home test kits can also be utilized to check for pregnancy testing in a dog.

Each of the processes outlined above varies in accuracy and reliability, and we will be discussing that extensively in sections of this article. And to ensure that you also don’t go to visit your vet without an idea of how much a pregnancy test costs, prices for different pregnancy testing procedures are outlined below. However, before we delve into all of this, let’s have a look at the various ways by which you can tell if you should be expecting puppies from your furry friend.

How Can You Test If Your Dog Is Pregnant?

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You can test if your dog is pregnant by consulting your vet to carry out an ultrasound or a blood test on the pooch. Additionally, you can run a home pregnancy test on your pooch by purchasing and using a specialized dog pregnancy test kit.

Check With Your Veterinarian

The surest and easiest way of determining whether or not your pooch is pregnant is by consulting with your vet to carry out an ultrasound.

Ultrasounds work by utilizing sound waves to generate images of your pooch’s womb. And in some cases, your vet may use an ultrasound to accurately guess how many puppies you can expect your pooch to deliver.

Blood Tests

Another surefire way of ascertaining your dog’s pregnancy status is by having your vet run a simple blood test on the pooch.

The hormone, Relaxin, is typically produced in significant amounts by the developing embryo during canine pregnancy, with production levels only dropping towards the end of the pooch’s gestation period.

Physical Examinations Can Also Be Used For Pregnancy Testing In Dogs

Ultrasounds aren’t the only way for your vet to test your pooch for pregnancy, and by simply examining and feeling parts of your furry friend’s abdomen, a vet can also determine whether or not the pooch is pregnant.

It has to be said that before a vet can accurately determine whether or not a dog is pregnant just by examining its abdomen, such a pooch’s pregnancy must have advanced to a certain stage – In most cases, dogs can feel a pooch’s abdomen for pregnancy from as early as 28 weeks after conception.

Can You Use A Human Pregnancy Test For A Dog?

The answer to this question is simple – no, human pregnancy tests can’t be used for dogs.

During human pregnancy, a hormone called the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is usually produced in significant amounts and is always present in the woman’s urine. Consequently, urine tests are one way of telling when humans are pregnant.

On the other hand, Relaxin, the hormone that is typically produced during dog pregnancy, is only present in the bloodstream; Hence, a blood test is the only accurate way to test for pregnancy in your pooch, using fluids – human urine pregnancy tests simply do not work for dogs!

Can You Test A Dog For Pregnancy At Home?

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Yes. By utilizing a specially produced canine pregnancy kit, you can test your dog for pregnancy at home.

With the advances being made in the technological world, you don’t necessarily have to go to the vet to test for pregnancy in your pooch. And by using home pregnancy test kits, which can be readily purchased online, you can tell, without having to go to the vet, whether or not your dear fido has conceived.

As we’ve earlier mentioned, vets test for pregnancy in dogs by checking the pooch’s blood for Relaxin levels. And these home test kits have made it possible to check for Relaxin levels right from the comfort of your home.

A positive Relaxin test indicates that your pooch is pregnant, as this hormone is produced only during pregnancy. And on the other hand, a negative Relaxin test infers that your furry friend is either not pregnant or carrying a pseudopregnancy.

Results for home pregnancy tests can be obtained fairly quickly, and in most cases, they are usually available under ten minutes!

Testing For Canine Pregnancy At Home Can Be Challenging

That said, most home pregnancy test kits require you to extract your dog’s blood sample, and spin this blood sample at high speeds with a centrifuge to separate the plasma component, before proceeding to carry out the test. But without the appropriate equipment and expertise, extracting blood from your furry friend can be a herculean task.

You can work around the challenge of obtaining a blood sample for your pooch’s pregnancy test by liaising with your vet to help extract the plasma component of the blood sample required for a canine pregnancy test. And when this is done, you can then proceed to carry out the pregnancy testing process at home.

When Can You Carry Out A Pregnancy Test On Your Dog

For accurate and reliable results, it is recommended that you carry out a pregnancy test on your dog not less than 21 days or three weeks after the pooch gets tied.

In the case of home pregnancy tests, it is recommended that you wait for between 3 to 4 weeks after completion of the dog’s heat cycle before carrying out the pregnancy test; this delay makes test results even more reliable and ensures you don’t waste money purchasing several test kits.

Relaxin usually isn’t produced earlier than three weeks after conception, and carrying out a pregnancy test on your furry friend before this 3-week period is most likely going to return a negative result, and deceive you into thinking that your dear Fido isn’t pregnant.

That said, a dog that returns a negative Relaxin test after three weeks should be tested again, one week later, to confirm and establish that the pooch isn’t pregnant.

Physical Testing

Your vet can feel your pooch’s abdomen to test for pregnancy from around four weeks after mating.

Apart from the noticeable swelling of the pooch’s abdomen, fetuses will have developed to a considerable extent during this 4-week period, and it may also be possible for your pooch to gauge the litter size by feeling the dog’s abdominal region!

However, this method of predicting litter size by feeling the pooch’ is not always accurate, and you shouldn’t be surprised if you have to welcome more puppies than you were expecting!

What Are The Signs Of Pregnancy In Dogs?

Apart from the use of pregnancy test kits, there are observable physical signs of pregnancy that can help you determine whether or not your dog is pregnant.

That said, some of the typical symptoms to look out for when you suspect that your pooch is pregnant include:

  • An increase in size, and change in color of the dog’s nipples
  • Changes in appetite – can either be an increase or decrease in appetite, depending on several factors
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Reduction in physical activity
  • The tendency for the pooch to exhibit nesting behavior
  • Increased affection

How Much Does Pregnancy Testing For Dogs Cost?

Pregnancy testing for dogs can be fairly costly, and vets typically charge based on the nature of services provided.

Trips to the vet’s office can end up costing you between $200 to $300 if your preferred choice of pregnancy testing is a blood test.

Prices for blood tests are usually on the high side because the vet is, firstly, required to draw blood from the dog and separate the blood into components, before proceeding to test the separated sample.

Going further, it has to be said that a blood test is, arguably, the most accurate means of telling whether or not your furry friend is pregnant, hence it may be worth investing in blood tests.

Vets typically charge for pregnancy testing ultrasounds based on the prices of a standard abdominal ultrasound; Hence, you can expect prices for this procedure to range between $75 to $200.

Prices for home dog pregnancy test kits range and vary according to store, and you can expect to spend between $150 to $200 to carry out a pregnancy test on your pooch at home. However, with home pregnancy test kits, you’d most likely have to pay for your dog’s blood sample to be extracted, and this has been reflected in the price range for this procedure.

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Pete Decker