Human pregnancy tests are not effective when used on dogs, so don’t bother. This is because the hormonal pregnancy marker in humans is different from the one found in canines.
While it’s easy enough for humans to test for pregnancy at home using a urine test, dogs can only be tested for pregnancy by more thorough means. This can sometimes involve an examination of the abdominal region, a blood test, an ultrasound, or even an X-ray on some occasions.
There are several different reasons why a dog owner may wish to find out whether or not their bitch is pregnant. Breeders that invest a lot of time and patience into their dog getting pregnant may seek out ways to detect if it is, and it can be an exciting process.
On the other hand, some owners may need to check if their dog is pregnant if she is not neutered and has recently escaped from home or if she has serious health conditions.
Dogs have a different genetic makeup to humans, so it’s no surprise that our pregnancy hormones differ too. At this moment in time, there’s still no over the counter pregnancy test available for canines that works using urine.
Because of this, many owners can find it difficult to identify whether or not their dog is pregnant until they begin showing physical signs.
Why can’t I use an ordinary human pregnancy test on my dog?
When a human female is impregnated, they begin to make a special pregnancy hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. This hormone is commonly known as HCG, which you may have seen advertised on the boxes of pregnancy tests or pregnancy test commercials.
The big giveaway here is that the hormone itself includes the word, “human.” This chemical is only found in human urine. Not dogs, or cats, or any other pet.
As we’ve managed to create a test for this hormone that’s found in human urine, humans are able to test for pregnancy quickly and accurately.
Not only do dogs lack HCG, but they also lack any specific pregnancy hormone. However, canines produce more progesterone during pregnancy.
Do dog-specific pregnancy tests exist?
Yes, there are a few different methods that you can use to determine whether or not your dog is pregnant. However, none of these methods involve testing the dog’s urine, as humans do.
Dogs are usually initially tested for pregnancy via abdominal palpation, ultrasound, or blood test. Because of this, the response time for detecting canine pregnancy is far longer than humans.
However, some skilled veterinarians are able to detect pregnancy in a female dog around 28 days into gestation. All animal pregnancy testing methods should only be carried out by trained professionals and should not be attempted at home.
Relaxin Pregnancy Tests
Instead of testing for HCG, certain canine pregnancy tests will test for the relaxin hormone instead. Relaxin is usually produced by a bitch within 3 to 4 weeks after conception. Relaxin pregnancy tests are considered very accurate and are a popular choice among owners and breeders alike.
However, it’s not a walk in the park. Whereas humans can just test for pregnancy within a matter of minutes in a bathroom, a canine pregnancy test is much more complicated. Relaxin pregnancy tests for dogs require a blood sample.
Anyone who has ever owned a dog will realize how difficult this might be. If your dog is particularly sensitive, easily stressed, or protective over her unborn young, it is best to avoid a Relaxin pregnancy test altogether.
The blood sample is tested for signs of pregnancy by separating the blood from the plasma.
These Relaxin pregnancy tests can be found online with a simple search, to the disappointment of veterinary doctors and dog lovers worldwide. Even though some websites will try to sell you a Relaxin pregnancy test to use on your dog at home, it is never safe to do so.
No dog owner or even breeder will have access to the equipment that is essential when carrying out these tests. Because of this, it’s crucial that you take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you suspect she may be pregnant.
Her pregnancy can only be officially confirmed by a registered veterinarian after completing reliable testing methods such as an ultrasound abdominal scan or an x-ray.
Testing for pregnancy using palpation
An alternative to Relaxin testing is testing for pregnancy via palpations. Not to be confused with palpitations, this method involves a professional carefully pressing and feeling the bitch’s abdomen for any sign of puppies.
It’s a less invasive procedure than Relaxin testing. However, there’s a much smaller testing window when using the palpation method.
This can only be carried out between days 28 and 35 of pregnancy. Palpation testing should never be attempted at home, even gently, as it’s very easy to unintentionally harm the puppies and disturb the mother.
After the 45th day of pregnancy, x-rays can be used to determine pregnancy in your canine. These are super reliable and it’s the most favored method among dog owners.
X-rays are more beneficial than both Relaxin and palpation tests as it is the only method that can determine exactly how many puppies are in the litter and if they are growing correctly and healthily. This is because x-ray pregnancy tests are great for checking the bone structure of the young.
If your bitch has already had an x-ray test, it’s not uncommon for your vet to want to re-test her around a week before her due date. This is just to confirm that the puppies are still healthy and that the findings from the previous x-ray are still accurate.
Can dogs experience false pregnancies?
Yes. While you may have heard of pseudopregnancy in humans, it’s also a common phenomenon in canines too. Pseudopregnancy is when the symptoms of pregnancy are present but the dog isn’t actually pregnant.
To quickly determine whether your dog is actually pregnant or just experiencing pseudopregnancy, we recommend taking her to get an ultrasound.
Ultrasounds are probably the safest way of testing your dog for pregnancy and it’ll give you an interesting insight into your dog’s gestation as you’ll often be able to view the inside of her womb on a screen.
The screen will display images of your dog’s womb by utilizing sound waves. Although you’ll be able to witness the odd heartbeat and adorable movement, ultrasound scans will not be able to tell you how many puppies your bitch is carrying.