Can You Do A Dog Pregnancy Test?

Detecting dog pregnancy early is important for several reasons. Knowing if a dog is pregnant allows the owner to properly care for the expectant mother by providing nutrition, moderate exercise and timely veterinary care. It also lets the owner prepare for the arrival of puppies by setting up an appropriate whelping area and supplies. Since dog pregnancy lasts 58-68 days on average, being able to determine pregnancy status within the first few weeks lets owners make arrangements sooner. There are several options for testing for pregnancy in dogs, including blood tests, ultrasounds, x-rays and home tests.

Signs of Pregnancy

There are several physical signs to look out for if you suspect your dog may be pregnant. According to the AKC, one of the earliest signs is enlargement of the nipples and mammary glands, which may occur as early as 4 weeks into pregnancy [1]. The nipples will become pinker and more prominent.

Significant weight gain and enlarged abdomen are also common pregnancy signs. Your dog’s belly will expand as the puppies grow, and their body demands extra nutrition to support the litter. According to Purina UK, your dog may start visibly “showing” around day 40 of gestation as the uterus expands [2].

Increased appetite is another indicator of pregnancy, as your dog requires around 25% more food intake to meet the nutritional demands of her growing puppies. Lethargy and increased rest are also common, as well as behavioral changes like seeking more affection and attention from owners.

Morning Sickness

Like pregnant women, some dogs can experience morning sickness early on in the pregnancy. This is caused by hormonal changes and usually occurs around the 3rd or 4th week of pregnancy. Signs of morning sickness include appetite changes, nausea and vomiting. According to WebMD, morning sickness affects some dogs but only lasts for a few days during the 3rd or 4th week (

The shifts in hormones, especially the rise in progesterone, can cause digestive upset and nausea. Some dogs may vomit bile or lose their appetite entirely in the early stages when morning sickness hits. It’s important to tempt pregnant dogs with different foods, as their preferences can change week to week. Small, frequent meals may help a dog who is struggling with nausea and keeping food down. Make sure she stays hydrated by providing fresh water frequently.

Morning sickness is usually short-lived and peaks around day 21-28 of pregnancy, according to PetMD. Only a small percentage of dogs experience severe vomiting past the first month. If your dog continues vomiting regularly or can’t keep anything down, consult your veterinarian to rule out other potential causes.


Ultrasound is considered the “gold standard” for confirming pregnancy and evaluating the health and development of the fetuses starting around day 28 of gestation. An ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to create images of the uterus and fetuses.

To perform the ultrasound, the dog is gently restrained in position while ultrasound gel is applied to the abdomen. A handheld ultrasound transducer probe is then moved over the abdomen to obtain views of the uterus and visualize any fetal puppies. The heartbeats of the fetuses can usually be detected by day 28. Ultrasound allows the veterinarian to get an accurate puppy count, determine viability, and monitor development.

According to Pregnancy Testing in the Dog – VCA Animal Hospitals, ultrasound is ideal for detecting pregnancy and assessing fetus viability starting at 28 days of gestation. It provides important information to owners and veterinarians during the pregnancy.

Blood Tests

One of the most common and accurate ways for veterinarians to confirm dog pregnancy is through a blood test that measures levels of a hormone called relaxin. According to the VCA Animal Hospitals, relaxin is produced by developing placentas starting around day 25-30 after conception, and levels rise throughout pregnancy. The presence of relaxin in the blood confirms that a dog is pregnant.

Veterinarians can take a blood sample and send it to a lab for relaxin testing. The test can confirm pregnancy as early as 22-27 days after conception. This type of pregnancy testing is over 95% accurate when testing after day 25, according to the provider Canine P4. The process is simple – the vet just needs to collect a blood sample and send it to the lab. Results are available in 1-2 days. This is one of the most reliable ways to diagnose pregnancy in dogs.

Some relaxin test kits like the Canine P4 Relaxin Kit allow breeders and owners to collect samples themselves at home and submit them to the lab for analysis. This makes pregnancy confirmation more convenient and affordable. While not quite as sensitive as full in-office vet testing, at-home sample collection paired with lab relaxin analysis can still accurately detect pregnancy.


X-rays can be used late in a dog’s pregnancy to get an estimate of how many puppies are expected. Typically, vets will perform X-rays between days 55-58 of gestation to count puppies. The images from the X-ray allow vets to visualize and count the number of puppies in the uterus.

To get an X-ray to count puppies, the pregnant dog will need to come into the vet’s office. The dog is placed on her back on the X-ray table. Lead shielding is used to protect her from radiation exposure. Two X-ray images are taken – one from the side and one from the top – to get a complete view of all the puppies.

The X-ray images show the puppies’ skeletal structure, allowing the vet to clearly see and count each one. While X-ray counts may be off by one puppy occasionally, they provide the most accurate puppy count late in pregnancy.

According to Highland Pet Hospital, puppy counts via X-ray are recommended between days 55-58 of gestation for the best accuracy.

Home Tests

There are a few at-home dog pregnancy test options available to pet owners. One popular option is the Witness Relaxin Canine Pregnancy Test, which detects pregnancy by testing the dog’s blood for the presence of relaxin, a hormone produced during pregnancy. The test kits include everything needed to collect a blood sample at home and mail it to the lab for analysis. Results are provided within 2-4 business days. (Source)

Another at-home option is the Bellylabs Dog Pregnancy Test Kit. This provides the materials to collect a urine sample from the dog at home. The sample is then mailed to the Bellylabs lab and results are delivered through an online portal within 1-3 business days. This test detects pregnancy earlier than the relaxin test, as early as 28 days post-breeding. (Source)

These at-home test kits provide a convenient way for owners to test for pregnancy without the time and stress of going to the vet. Their accuracy and early detection capabilities make them a popular choice.

When to Confirm Pregnancy

It is recommended to confirm dog pregnancy at around 4 weeks, once signs begin to show more clearly. According to the AKC, your veterinarian can perform a blood test to measure hormone levels between 25-30 days of gestation to confirm pregnancy [1].

Confirming pregnancy at around 4 weeks allows you to provide proper prenatal veterinary care. Your vet will advise on diet, exercise, and other care considerations for the health of the pregnant dog and unborn puppies. Regular checkups and monitoring will continue throughout pregnancy.

Early confirmation also gives you time to prepare whelping supplies, a nesting area, and homes for the puppies. Your vet can estimate the due date and size of litter based on the dog’s breed, size, and health.

False Pregnancy

False pregnancy, also known as pseudocyesis or pseudopregnancy, is a condition that occurs after a female dog goes through estrus or experiences an abrupt decrease in progesterone following ovulation. The hormonal changes caused by estrus and ovulation can make the dog’s body think and act as if she is pregnant even when she is not.

Some signs of false pregnancy in dogs include nesting behaviors, lethargy, abdominal licking, enlarged mammary glands, and mothering of toys. These symptoms typically last 2-3 weeks and resolve on their own.

To differentiate a real pregnancy from a false pregnancy, an ultrasound, blood test, or x-ray can be performed by a veterinarian. These tests allow visualization of fetuses and measurement of hormone levels to confirm or rule out pregnancy.

While false pregnancy symptoms can worry dog owners, the condition is not dangerous in most cases. However, dogs with prolonged or severe symptoms may benefit from medication or spaying to prevent recurrence.


While there are some early signs that may indicate a dog is pregnant, the only surefire way to confirm pregnancy is through diagnostic testing by a veterinarian. Methods like blood tests, ultrasounds, and x-rays allow vets to see definite signs of pregnancy by 3-4 weeks along. Home pregnancy tests and methods like palpation can also provide clues, but the most reliable confirmation comes from veterinary exams and imaging.

It’s critical that owners take a potentially pregnant dog to the vet for proper prenatal care. Prenatal vet visits allow for tracking of pregnancy progression, detecting potential complications, and preparing a birthing/care plan. They also ensure the health of momma dog and her pups. Responsible owners should never solely rely on home methods to determine dog pregnancy, but instead partner with their vet for confirmation and proper care.

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