Pregnant women always ask the same question: ‘Can my dog sense I’m pregnant?’ It’s right after ‘When will we learn the baby’s gender?’ and ‘When will I feel the first kick?’ Actually, it may not be that high up on the list of questions, but it certainly comes up given dogs are an integral part of the family.
And the question almost seems like a no-brainer. Our faithful canine companions are capable of detecting the scent of various cancers, elevated blood sugar levels in diabetics, chemicals signaling seizures in epileptics, and much more. They’re also such keen observers of subtle changes in behavior and routines, how can they not know?
While there is no scientific proof on the topic or a foolproof way to know what about a woman’s pregnancy a dog may sense, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence. Just seek out the topic on online forums and websites for moms-to-be and you’ll find reports of dogs sniffing and snuggling pregnant bellies and acting more protective or clingy toward the pregnant woman of the house.
Is it the scent of a woman’s hormones, can dogs hear the heartbeat, or are they just reacting to changes in routine, behavior and even shape? A reader of the fabulous BARK Magazine inquired on the topic in an issue from last summer, and Karen London, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, Certified Pet Dog Trainer, author, BARK contributor and part of the team behind dogbehaviorblog.com (a Woof Report favorite), responded.
London, a mother of two children as well, provided a number of reasons why she’s convinced dogs are aware of pregnancy:
- Dogs can detect hormonal changes in their own species related to reproductive status and many hormonal changes are the same in our two species.
- The change in balance of many pregnant women based on changes in weight, shape, and such, should be easily detectable to a species so aware of movement and balance.
- The heartbeat and other sounds are likely detectable with contact as is the movement of the baby.
- The body temperature of women changes, and the extra heat of the belly may draws some dogs in, along with the sounds and motion.
And so we’re back to how can dogs not know! Please do share your stories and comments below – did your dog ‘know’ you were pregnant and what signs did he or she display?
Many thanks to Karen London for permission to share her insightful thoughts on dogs and pregnancy. Find more of her interesting and informative articles at www.dogbehaviorblog.com and www.thebark.com.
Thank you to Michael Wills on flickr for the photo.