Can Dogs Sense Early Pregnancy?

By helloBARK!
Updated on 12 April 2021
Expert Content

Can dogs sense early pregnancy?

We can become incredibly bonded to our dogs but the prospect of introducing a baby to your pets can be a stressful experience.

With a pregnant wife and two Alaskan Klee Kai, I’ve been closely watching my dogs to see if they’ve sussed out something is going on.

While my female Klee Kai is more attached to my wife than ever, my male Klee Kai doesn’t appear to have noticed anything.

Skye, my female Klee Kai, is constantly lying on my wife, close to her belly or between her legs.

This prompted the question: can dogs sense early pregnancy?

In this article, we’ll hear from six experts who give us their perspective.

Sense Of Smell

Laura Pakis Davis, Certified Professional Trainer, Cynologist, and Owner/Founder Of Acme Canine

A dog’s sense of smell is around 10,000 – 100,000 times better than ours and the part of their brains that analyses and processes scents is (proportionally) 40 times greater than ours. They can smell emotion. They can smell cancer and hormonal imbalances that cause seizures. I believe that my dog, Jessica, knew I was pregnant and watched over me.

Dogs Observe The Changes In The Environment

Jeremy Williams, Chief Editor Of

Dogs have an uncanny ability to detect pregnancy. And they do so, ever so quickly. Dogs are incredibly observant animals. And they know can detect change; almost as soon as it unfolds.

With their eyes, dogs observe the changes in the environment around them. From the movement of objects around the home to the behavior of their owners. Then there is the smell.

A dog’s sense of smell is between 10,000-100,000 times more acute than ours. And a woman’s change in hormones causes her to change in smell. It’s no surprise that a dog notices!

And then there is the bump. Yes, a dog can see that pregnancy bump. And they know how this affects their owners. The funny walking, the hunching. Dogs quite rightly sense that change is upon them and the home in which they live. Besides, it’s a dog’s nature to be acquainted with every tiny response of their ‘pack’. It’s how they evolved after all.

Dog relaxes with pregnant owner (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Dog relaxes with pregnant owner (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Different Dogs React In Different Ways To Pregnancy

Siddhika Bhat, Editor For Wag A Bond

Medically speaking, dogs can be trained to detect cancer, diabetes, COVID-19 and several other illnesses. Their remarkable ability to sense this is due to the fact that they can smell hormones. Every hormone in our body has a peculiar composition and a smell associated with it.

When our body undergoes any kind of physiological changes, there is a shift in hormones with the possible release of new ones too.

When a woman first becomes pregnant, her body experiences a sudden dramatic increase in estrogen and progesterone along with the release of a new kind of hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin hormone (hCG).

This is produced only during pregnancy and the body uses it to provide nourishment to the fertilized egg.

These hormonal changes cause a shift in the woman’s natural body scent and her emotional and mental state which can be very well picked up by the dog.

The possibility of the dog picking up on this is even higher if the dog has spent several months or years with the woman. Different dogs react in different ways to pregnancy. While some become overly protective of their owners, some choose to become aloof. This can also be attributed to the dog’s ability to sense fetal heartbeat. Some dogs become possessive and protective of the baby while some dogs may show territorial behavior by marking around the house.

Apart from their heightened sense of smell, dogs are also known to have a sixth sense when it comes to natural calamities, weather changes, illnesses, disasters and even death.

While there is no scientific evidence to support this, canine behaviors in these situations have time and again proved that they have the intuitive ability to sense a lot of things before humans actually see them happen, including early pregnancy.

Depends On How Observant A Dog Is With Their Owner

Amber LaRock, Licensed Vet Tech And Veterinary Consultant At

Can dogs sense early pregnancy?

There is no definitive proof that dogs can sense early pregnancy in their owners, but there is some evidence that suggests the possibility. Dogs are extremely observant, meaning they can quickly catch on to any changes in their owner’s mood or routine. Due to this, some believe our dogs react to the subtle changes rather than sensing the pregnancy itself.

Another possibility is that dogs can smell changes in their owner’s body chemistry when they become pregnant. A pregnant woman can experience changes in odor due to altered hormones and PH levels, meaning it could be possible for a dog to smell this. There are dogs around the world that are trained to sniff out disease and other medical complications, so this idea is not far fetched.

If so, at what stage can they start to sense the pregnancy?

The answer to this question typically depends on how observant and in tune a dog is with their owner. For example, if a woman is experiencing chronic morning sickness and changes in their normal routine, a dog may react to these changes in early pregnancy.

However, if sensing a pregnancy revolves around changes in their routine, some dogs may not catch on until later stages of pregnancy. Due to not having an exact answer on this canine sense, it’s challenging to know their exact abilities.

Pregnant woman plays with her dog in the office (Photo: Adobe)

Pregnant woman plays with her dog in the office (Photo: Adobe)

Currently No Evidence

Dr Joanna Woodnutt, Head Veterinarian At Breed Advisor

It’s possible! Whilst there’s currently no evidence that dogs can detect early pregnancy, we know they can detect a lot of minor changes in your body. Medical detection dogs have even been used to sniff out coronavirus, so it makes sense that they would be able to detect the hormonal changes going on in your body.

However, the main problem is that the dog doesn’t necessarily know what these changes mean. Whilst they might be able to tell that you smell different, they don’t have the experience to understand what the new smell means. Unless, of course, you are having a second baby!

They might just be reacting to your emotions. Of course, many people report that their dogs become more cuddly when they’re pregnant. The hormones (or just finding out that you’re pregnant!) may be making you emotional, and your dog may just be reacting to your mood swings and tears with extra cuddles.

My Dog Could Sense I Was Soon To Go Into Labour

Dr Sarah-Jane Molier, DVM At Doggie Designer

It is well known that dogs can sense, or smell, certain medical conditions, including epilepsy and cancer. Dogs can even be trained to sense an epileptic fit (a seizure) before it happens, so that they can alert their owner.

Well, I’ve had first-hand experience of dogs being able to sense pregnancy events too! My dogs have never been allowed upstairs and have never tried to come up. Until the 48 hours leading up to both my labours that is.

My Labrador-cross refused to leave my side for that time period. He had to be touching me at all times, whether it was sitting on my feet or curled up next to me in bed. Now, he’s a good boy and pretty much always does as I ask. Not this time!

If I instructed him to go downstairs, he flat refused. He had other ideas and would simply lick me in reply. Of course this is only one case, but I’m sure my dog could sense that I was soon to go into labour, before I had any idea myself.

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