Truth or Myth: Can Dogs Sense Pregnancy Way Before You Do?

Our four-legged besties melt our hearts on a day-to-day basis with their sweet gestures and innocent yet comical antics. Another thing that makes them extra special? Their mind-blowing abilities

Most of us think of dogs as furry superheroes capable of doing a lot more than just playing fetch and rolling over for belly rubs. Dogs have long been hailed for their incredible ability to sniff out the impossible, detect diseases such as cancer and diabetes even before a medical review confirms so, and predict incoming natural disasters like earthquakes.

Do dogs know when you’re pregnant, though?

Can Dogs Sense Pregnancy

If you’ve ever wondered whether our canine friends can tell if their owner is expecting, you’re not alone. It’s a question that puzzles many people, but we’re here to clear the mystery surrounding it. 

So, can dogs sense pregnancy? The short answer is they do, just as many people report. Curious to know how they figure this out? Well, keep reading as we uncover interesting facts about dogs’ ability to sense whether their owner is pregnant, including real-life confessions from dog owners whose pups turned out to be the accurate pregnancy tests they never thought they had.

How Does My Dog Know I’m Pregnant?

Dog staring at pregnant owner touching her belly, the short answer to the question "can dogs sense pregnancy" is yes
(Photo Credit: Amina Filkins | Pexels)

While there are no concrete studies pointing to dogs knowing when someone is pregnant, the commonly held theory is that a dog’s nose will know what’s up. 

So, if you’ve ever wondered, “When do dogs know you’re pregnant?” The straightforward answer is this: when their noses pick up the pregnancy.

Unlike humans, dogs are gifted with a powerful sense of smell, estimated to be over 10,000 times stronger than ours. There’s nothing ordinary about the dog’s nose. Whereas the human nose contains roughly 6 million scent receptors, our canine companions have around 300 million scent receptors in their noses. For this reason, dogs can detect odors the faintest of odors; odors that our noses can’t pick up. 

You’re probably aware that during pregnancy, a woman’s body experiences many hormonal changes. For instance, the placenta‌ releases the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin hormone (HCG) in high amounts during the first trimester. HCG is often present in urine or blood and is responsible for a positive pregnancy test. Not to mention, pregnancy leads to a dramatic rise in other hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen.

All these hormones lead to a subtle chemical body odor that the human nose can’t detect. However, dogs can smell it due to their incredible sense of smell.

Small dog standing on top of pregnant woman's belly, the short answer to the question "can dogs sense pregnancy" is yes
(Photo Credit: Amina Filkins | Pexels)

Since our canine friends don’t entirely comprehend the concept of human pregnancy, they may not fully know that these hormonal changes are pregnancy-related. Still, they’ll have an idea that something’s different about your body and react to this discovery, an indication that they can sense when one is pregnant. And as they observe their pregnant owner battling morning sickness, they’ll join the dots that all is not well and try to offer comfort. 

In a threaded Reddit discussion on dogs and their pregnancy-sensing abilities, user @Tough_Safe 1349 shared: “My Dachshund refused to leave my side this morning. When I was eating breakfast, she calmly sat next to me instead of begging. When we lay down, she’s taken to lying across my abdomen instead of lying by my side. When I woke up this morning, I found her in the bathroom with the trash can full of discarded pregnancy tests. My assumption is that she can smell the hormone. Anyone else’s dog act like this?”

“My dog (lab/Newfoundlander cross) always knew I was pregnant before me. He was not an affectionate dog, but when I was pregnant, he would seek out affection from me (hugs). After three miscarriages, I began to notice his change in behavior. With my 4th pregnancy, he started his affectionate routine with me again and knew I should test. I took a test the next morning, and it was positive!” said @Crafty-professional-74

Dogs Can Also Read Pregnancy-Related Emotions & Body Language

Dachshund sitting with pregnant owner on the bed, the answer to the question "can dogs sense pregnancy" is yes
(Photo Credit: Pavel Danilyuk | Pexels)

Another area that our beloved pups are truly gifted in is decoding our emotions and overall mood. With pregnancy comes different emotions and body language cues that our dogs are smart enough to interpret and offer support the best way they know how.

Thanks to their keen sense of smell, dogs can sense whether you are happy or stressed by smelling the hormones at play in your body while you’re pregnant, that is, Cortisol, the stress hormone, and oxytocin, the happiness hormone. Plus, your body language and vocalizations during pregnancy — often a reflection of your emotional state — don’t go unnoticed by your canine companion. Since dogs can interpret human body language, any unusual non-verbal cues you give off while pregnant will help them know that something’s going on with you. 

A 2018 study established that dogs have the ability to associate different human vocalizations with certain emotions. According to the study, hearing worrying sounds from their human (sounds that indicate stress and anxiety) — think of heavy breathing, repeated sighs, and other sounds common amongst pregnant women — increases a pup’s heart rate and heightens their concern. This explains why most dogs are often quick to offer comfort to their stressed-out pregnant owner.  

How Dogs React After Finding Out You’re Pregnant

Pregant wife and her partner standing next to a tree with their dog beside them, the short answer to the question "can dogs sense pregnancy" is yes
(Photo Credit: Diego Rezende | Pexels)

More often than not, dogs will display a change in behavior after realizing their owner is pregnant. However, every dog will react differently.

While there are dogs that will instantly go into clingy and protective mode (watch how Rocky Kanaka’s dogs reacted to his wife’s pregnancy in the video above), some may act unbothered, and others may react in a manner that suggests fear and anxious.

“My dog never acted differently. One time the baby kicked her and she kinda stared at my stomach for a while lol, other than that nothing,” said Redit user @jellydear in a recent Reddit discussion on dogs sensing pregnancies.

“My Doberman has known almost the entire pregnancy, it seems. She started getting much more protective and has been glued to my side or my lap starting around 4/5 weeks. She used to be a daddy’s girl and not give me the time of day lol,” another user commented.

“Mine knew about 6 weeks in. I experienced a lot of body changes, and I think they smelled it and saw me puking all the time. They’ve been stalking me ever since. I can’t go anywhere alone,” said User @cassvioletbetch .

Preparing Your Dog for Your New Baby

Small white dog staring at his pregnant owner's belly, the answer to the question "can dogs sense pregnancy" is yes
(Photo Credit: Amina Filkins| Pexels)

Whether or not your dog is fully aware that a baby is on the way, it’s important to prepare them for this big change. 

Usually, pregnancy can be disruptive, so a little planning before the baby arrives can go a long way in easing your dog’s transition to life with a newborn. Here are a few tips to keep in mind, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA):

  • Teach your dog basic commands that will come in handy as they interact with the newborn. For instance, wait at the door, stay, leave it, and so forth.
  • Introduce your dog to the sight and smell of baby items such as baby wipes, detergents, toys, and baby powder. 
  • Familiarize your dog with the sound of a crying baby by playing such pre-recorded sounds in their presence.
  • Reduce the amount of attention you show your dog, especially as your due date nears. This will help them not experience an emotional void once the baby arrives, and all attention goes to the baby. 
  • If you foresee a disruption in your dog’s routine once the newborn is home, create a new schedule for them beforehand and introduce it before the baby arrives.
  • Decide on the rooms you would want to be off-limits for your dog when the baby is born, and train them early to keep off these spaces. 

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