can dogs sense pregnancy

Can My Dog Sense if I’m Pregnant?

Written by: Alyssa Larsen



Time to read 7 min

There’s a strong bond between dogs and their owners. Your dog becomes a member of your family the moment you bring them home and before long, they’ve fit in comfortably with your daily routine. When you find out you’re expecting a new addition to the family, will your dog sense what’s coming?

Although it hasn’t been scientifically proven, many women have shared similar experiences with changes to their dog’s behavior during their pregnancies, leading us to believe that man’s best friend may know something’s up.

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Can Dogs Sense Their Owner’s Pregnancy?

There aren’t any studies to confirm or deny a dog's ability to pick up on their pet parent’s pregnancy, but from personal experience, many pregnant women would tell you, yes!

It’s not unusual to hear about a dog’s change in behavior during their owner’s pregnancy. Some women have noticed their dogs become more clingy, protective, or destructive while they are pregnant.

It’s believed that dogs can sense pregnancy due to their owner’s hormonal and behavioral changes. Throughout nine months of pregnancy, your hormones fluctuate to sustain the growth of your little one. Changes in hormones can cause changes to your natural body odor that even you may notice, and a dog’s sensitive sniffer can definitely distinguish.

Some of the major pregnancy hormones are:

  •  Human placental lactogen is secreted by the placenta and aids in regulating your metabolism and blood sugar to effectively get nutrients to your baby.

  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is present during early pregnancy and is what your ob-gyn looks for to confirm your pregnancy. It triggers an increase in estrogen and progesterone to support pregnancy development.

  • Estrogen levels are largely increased to develop fetal organs and maintain a healthy pregnancy.

  • Progesterone also helps to sustain a pregnancy by thickening the uterine lining where a fertilized egg will implant and grow from.

  • Relaxing loosens joints and ligaments in your pelvic area as your body prepares for childbirth.

  • Oxytocin helps promote labor contractions and stimulates lactation after birth.

Can Cats Also Sense Pregnancy?

Cats, too, form strong bonds with their owners and have a great sense of smell like dogs. Pet owners know cats can be finicky and may not need as much attention as dogs, but this doesn’t mean they don’t sense changes with their humans. Your feline friend will notice your altered hormonal state and may become more cuddly or avoidant during your pregnancy, depending on their personality.

Will My Dog Change Their Behavior Toward Me During My Pregnancy?

Dogs are inherently loyal and protective of their people, and that could impact how they behave towards you during your pregnancy.

Every dog is different, but you may notice your dog …

  • Wants to cuddle more often or lay at your feet.

  • Follows you around the house.

  • Barks or shows aggression toward perceived threats around you like fast movements or loud noises.

  • Becomes destructive or territorial by chewing on things or urinating in the house.

  • Is less affectionate and more standoffish.

A shift in your dog’s behavior is most likely a clear sign that they sense something is going on even if they may not know what it is. On the other hand, a dog with a naturally indifferent temperament may not show any major changes in behavior, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of the situation.

My Dog Sense if I’m Pregnant

How Does My Dog Know I’m Pregnant?

Your dog knows your scent. A large chunk of your dog’s brain is wired to process smells and their amazing noses are capable of detecting scents in minuscule amounts. Depending on the breed, your dog has anywhere between 125 to 300 million smell receptors —much more than a human’s average of around 5 million. A dog’s keen sense of smell makes it easy to see why they would be able to identify subtle changes in their pregnant owner’s body odor.

Dogs are also very perceptive to your behavior and physical changes. As a dog owner, you know they live for routine. When you wake up, when you feed them, when you get home from work, when it’s time to go outside for a walk; your pooch is ready and waiting.

Once you’re pregnant, not only is your dog able to smell hormonal changes within your body, but they also read your behavioral cues and notice differences in your schedule. Morning sickness may keep you in the bathroom and out of the kitchen more than usual, or pregnancy fatigue might cause you to curl up with your pregnancy pillow for an afternoon nap. It’s likely your dog is aware of how differently you're acting, and they might let you know by changing their own behavior.

Can My Dog Sense If I’m Going Into Labor?

In the days and hours leading up to labor, pregnancy hormones are surging to prepare your body for labor. Even if you can’t tell it’s happening, your dog may be able to sense the change. Your dog’s sensitive snout can, once again, sniff out a shift in your smell and start behaving differently.

Your pup may also read the difference in your body language. As pregnancy progresses, and you near your due date, your baby drops low into your pelvis, causing you to walk slower and with a wider stance. A change in pace is usually obvious both to you and your dog.

When you start feeling discomfort or contractions, your dog may notice you’re in pain or tense. While it’s not proven that dogs know when labor is imminent, an observant pet still might be able to give you a hint.

How Can I Prepare My Dog for the New Baby?

Dog lovers treat their canine companions like family, but with a new baby’s arrival, your attention will be divided. As expectant parents, the key to preparing your dog for life with a newborn is to start before you bring the baby home. During the third trimester of your pregnancy is a great time to start easing your furry friend into your upcoming lifestyle.

Parents who want to adopt a new dog into their family should take extra care to pick a breed that’s known to be safe around children. The American Kennel Club (AKC) lists Labrador retrievers, bulldogs, and golden retrievers as their top three best family dogs .

Changes to your home can take time for your dog to get used to. Consider these tips when prepping your pooch for your baby’s arrival.

Give Your Dog Plenty of Time

The segue to life as new parents will go smoothly when you’ve taken the time to prepare your dog. It’s crucial to your child’s safety that your dog accepts them into your home. A positive relationship between your dog and your baby is also an opportunity for a loving bond that teaches your child care and responsibility as they grow.

Can My Dog Sense if I’m Pregnant

Introduce Baby Smells and Sounds

The different scents and noises associated with babies can be overwhelming to dogs. Use baby lotion on your hands or lounge with a blanket washed in baby laundry detergent while your dog is around. Play a recording of a baby crying to become familiar with the sound. Turn on the baby swing, sound machine, or musical toys, and let your dog spend time checking them out. The more exposure your dog has to these smells and sounds the more normal they will become.

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Set Up the Nursery Allow

your dog to walk around the nursery with you or lay at your feet while you sit in your glider , and call them out when you leave the room. Establish a boundary to let them know that the nursery is not their territory by restricting their access to the room when you aren’t in there.

Arrange a First Meeting

After your baby is born, if you can, send a worn piece of clothing home with your partner ahead of time and let your dog get their first whiff of the baby’s scent . Plan to introduce your little one after your dog has had a long walk to burn off some energy. Keep your dog on a leash to maintain control and offer a first sniff on neutral ground like the front yard or living room away from your dog’s bed, food, or toys.

Stick to Your Routine

Avoid changing the daily routine your dog is used to. Neglecting your dog’s need for attention and exercise could result in unwanted behaviors in the house and around your baby. Sticking to the routine may require the help of a friend or family member while your attention is on your new baby.

Dog pregnancy

Consult a Trainer or Animal B ehaviorist

Obedience classes and basic training can go a long way in managing your dog’s behavior once your baby is born. Commands, like sit and lay down, will be necessary when setting boundaries for your dog around your newborn. A dog trainer can help you retrain your dog’s bad habits, like jumping up on people, to make your home environment calm and conducive to your family’s needs.

So, can dogs sense pregnancy? We can’t say for sure, but the anecdotal evidence shows that sometimes your dog’s behavior changes when they catch a whiff of your hormonal changes—maybe even before you’ve taken a pregnancy test!

As you prepare for your baby’s arrival, Nurture& has all the nursery essentials you need. Shop our online store or read more pregnancy and parenting tips on Our Journal.

Alyssa Larsen

Alyssa Larsen

Alyssa Larsen is a stay-at-home mom with a passion for writing. Before starting her career as a freelance writer, Alyssa devoted all of her time to her family and raising her young children. The evolution of her motherhood journey and parenting experience inspires her work. She strives to always tell a story that is helpful and relatable to the person reading it. Alyssa lives in Ohio with her husband and four hilarious kids.