Symptoms Throughout Dog Pregnancy

Updated October 17, 2022
Golder retriever puppies with mother

Do pregnant dogs sleep more often? Should you see discharge from a pregnant dog, starting as early as two to four weeks? Whether you know or simply suspect your dam has been bred, you'll want to know more about dog pregnancy symptoms so you can tell if the breeding was successful.

Dog Pregnancy Symptoms

The following list begins with the earliest signs of dog pregnancy and progresses through late-term signs. Please note that not every dam will experience each and every symptom. It is usually the presence of a group of symptoms that gives owners a decent idea of whether their dog is truly pregnant.

Behavioral Changes

Anything that deviates from your dam's normal behavior might be an early indication of pregnancy. For example, a stand-offish dam may suddenly become clingy, while a normally affectionate dam may seek to be left alone. These behavioral changes may also indicate other health issues. You'll likely notice something is off, so pay attention and follow up with your vet if you suspect something is up.

Woman and dog in living room

Changes in Appetite

Many dams will experience a drop in their appetite during the first few weeks of pregnancy, becoming reluctant to eat anything. Eventually, their appetite returns with gusto and they will require nearly twice their normal amount of food to support the pups.

Morning Sickness

Some, but not all, dams will vomit intermittently during the first few weeks of pregnancy. This can range from clear mucus to actual food. The use of the word "morning" can be a bit misleading, because vomiting can occur at any time of day.

Breast Development

Many females will show some level of breast development after a heat cycle. However, continued breast growth is a good indicator that a pregnancy is under way.

Change in Sleeping Patterns

Do pregnant dogs sleep a lot? Yes! Many dams will spend a good deal of their time resting, if not fully sleeping. You will mainly notice this during the early and final stages, with the dam rebounding a bit during mid-pregnancy.

Clear Vaginal Discharge

Pregnant dog discharge is natural and should only be a cause for alarm if the discharge develops a foul odor or a brownish color. Green discharge, especially late in the pregnancy, is usually a sign that a pup has defecated in utero.

Enlarged Abdomen

As the pregnancy progresses, the growing pups will naturally cause the dam's abdomen to grow in size. This growth usually isn't noticeable until mid-pregnancy.

Pregnant labrador

Milk Production

Continued breast development noted in early and mid-pregnancy typically leads to milk production during the last stage of gestation. However, some females won't produce milk until the puppies actually begin to nurse, so a lack of milk is nothing to worry about at this point.

Moving Puppies

Once the puppies reach a decent size, you can feel them by gently laying your hand on your dog's abdomen. You won't feel movement if the pups are asleep, so the best time to check is after your dam has had some mild exercise, such as right after a walk.

Veterinary Confirmation

Although time will certainly tell the tale, some owners wish to know for sure if their dog's pregnancy symptoms truly mean their dog is carrying a litter, or if the signs are indicative of a false pregnancy. Your veterinarian can confirm or rule out a pregnancy by the following methods:


At 28 days gestation, it is possible for an experienced veterinarian to gently feel the pea-sized embryos implanted along the uterine horns. It's important to allow your vet to do this for you so you don't accidentally damage any of the embryos by pushing too hard. Sometimes, the vet is actually able to count how many puppies there might be, but it's difficult to be completely accurate.

Blood Test

By 2 to 3 weeks after the heat cycle has ended, your vet can perform a blood test to check for the presence of the hormone relaxin. This hormone is released once the embryos implant in the uterus.


This is the same procedure women go through to provide a black-and-white view of the uterine contents. The procedure will detect embryos and pups, and give a fairly accurate count on the number in the developing litter.

Veterinarian doing ultrasound


By the last week of pregnancy, the puppies' bones are formed well enough to show up on an X-ray. This is usually the best way to confirm the number of pups to expect.

Regularly Visit the Veterinarian if Your Dog is Pregnant

If you suspect your dog is pregnant, bring her to the veterinarian as soon as possible to be checked out. Once you receive positive test results, learn about the week-by-week progression of pregnancy to know what to expect. Make sure to follow up and ask your vet about scheduling additional visits. Be sure to work diligently with your veterinarian to ensure both her and her pups remain healthy.

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Symptoms Throughout Dog Pregnancy