If you're a dog lover, there's no doubt that your best buddy and you have a bond like no other. And if you or your partner have experienced pregnancy as dog owners, you've probably noticed a few changes in your dog's behavior.
Maybe they were more loving or became overly protective, and this could've made you feel that they know something's up. You may even have wondered, "Can my dog tell if I'm pregnant?"
Dr. Dog is in the House
Dogs notice so much about the world around them. When Max seems to have sniffed out your pregnancy, it's not a magic trick; dogs simply have a heightened sense of smell. They're also super-observant. Some even help medical professionals to do their jobs better!
Trained dogs can detect prostate cancer by smelling a person's urine. They can pick up high and low blood sugar levels in people who have diabetes, and they can smell when someone has narcolepsy. There's even been a study that revealed that dogs could accurately sniff out Covid-19!
Considering all these sniffing superpowers, is it surprising at all that dogs could smell the hormonal change a human pregnancy causes?
Dogs’ sense of smell is up to 10,000 times better than that of people. This is because they have over 220 million olfactory receptors in their nasal cavities (we humans only have around 5 million!) So, a shift in hormone levels during pregnancy is light work for a typical dog's keen sense of smell.
It's Not Only About the Hormones
Besides smelling hormonal changes in the body, there are other changes that dogs sense in pregnant women. Our canine companions are observant of their human friends' emotional state as well as their physical wellbeing.
If you've had your dog for a while, they'll likely be in tune with your moods. Think about a time you felt a bit down. Did your dog give you some extra special attention to cheer you up? Dogs are so loyal; when they sense their owners are sad, they go out of their way to try to make them happy!
It's the same with a pregnant woman; dogs just seem to know that something has changed, and many of them will begin to change their behavior. When dogs sense pregnancy, their behavior towards you could change so much you may start to wonder, "Can my dog tell if I’m pregnant?"
How a Dog May React to a Pregnancy
If a dog senses a pregnancy, its behavior may change, but it's not the same for every dog. Dogs differ, and so do their reactions. Some dogs will become more affectionate and protective of their human companions during pregnancy. This type of behavior could increase as the pregnancy progresses.
Other dogs could have a hard time with the changes and develop some behavioral issues, like chewing up things they shouldn't or making a mess inside the home. This could happen if you give them less attention because you're feeling unwell or you’re busy preparing for the baby's arrival.
Give your canine companion some time to adjust to the change and try to be a little more affectionate if you're up to it. This is a period of change for the whole family; even the family members with tails and whiskers!
Can Your Dog Hear Your Baby's Heartbeat?
Dogs have a far better sense of hearing than what people do. So, as you move along in your pregnancy, and it becomes easier for you and your partner to hear the baby's heartbeat, you may wonder if your dog can hear it with more clarity.
If dogs sense pregnancy, it makes sense for them to be more aware of what's going on with your body. Although there's no evidence to support this theory, it's possible that your dog can hear a fetal heartbeat. This may make you wonder what else your dog is capable of knowing during your pregnancy.
Can Dogs Predict Labor?
Just like there's no scientific proof that dogs can sense pregnancy, or hear the fetal heartbeat, there's no way of knowing whether dogs know when you are going into labor. Since our bodies go through major changes as we inch closer to the delivery time, it makes sense that dogs would notice it with their keen senses!
Do dogs think about what is actually happening when you are going into labor? Maybe not, but they can probably sense that something has changed and may even become more concerned and protective of you, and begin following you around the house to make sure you're okay.
Before you get to this stage, it's important to get everything ready for the new arrival. This includes learning how to prepare dogs for the baby's arrival.
Getting Ready for the New Arrival
Here are some tips to get your canine companion ready for a new little person in the house:
- Slowly reduce the attention you give your furry friend, especially if you're having your first child. The new baby will take up so much time and energy, you're bound to have less time to spend with your dog.
- If you have a loving little dog, like a dachshund, for example, be sure to install a bed ramp for dogs, so your furry friend doesn't feel left out when you're caring for the new arrival. Of course, if your pup is a bit on the rowdy side, the ramp is best left installed at a different bed, so the baby stays safe, but your best friend doesn't feel left out.
- Dogs are sensitive to sounds, and babies can be noisy! Ensure your dog becomes used to hearing baby sounds by occasionally playing recordings of babies crying and making other sounds.
- Apply some baby lotion to a blanket and let your dog sniff it so they can get used to the baby's scent.
- When it's time for your best friend and your baby to meet for the first time, leash your dog, just in case the excitement runs too high! Allow them to investigate and sniff the baby at their leisure. If you shoo a dog away, they'll only become more curious and could even develop resentment for the little one!
Baby's New Best Friend
When it comes to answering the question, "Can dogs sense pregnancy?" the short answer is that they probably can. They are highly observant animals and have a strong sense of hearing and smell, so they are likely to pick up on a significant change in you, like a pregnancy.
However, there is no scientific proof of this. Dogs are like any other family member; you get to know them and their behavior. So if it changes, you'll most likely be the one to spot it!
As for introducing your dog to the new arrival, babies and dogs can form a strong bond, especially if your canine companion is around from the beginning. If they're your best friend, there's a good chance they'll become your little one's best friend too!