What dog pregnancy tests can you use to know if she’s in the family way or not?
The bad news is, if you’re looking for a simple stick to dip in her urine and give you the answer its a bit more complicated than that. Unlike the situation in humans, pregnancy in the bitch is not signified by the presence of a specific hormone in the urine. In fact, she is likely to have the same hormones present at that stage of her cycle whether pregnant or not, which is why false pregnancy is so very common in dogs.
Available Dog Pregnancy Tests
There are several techniques available for diagnosing pregnancy in the bitch, of varying accuracy. Each are specific to a particular stage of her pregnancy, but none can accurately detect the number of puppies for any but the most advanced pregnancies.
Further, it is not uncommon up to day 38 of pregnancy for a bitch to reabsorb one or more (even all) pups in the litter (due to placental insufficiency, fetal genetic disorders, or fetal damage from toxins or infectious agents). As such, the number of pups detected by any methods used before then may often exceed the actual number of live pups born. But for completeness, I have outlined currently available pregnancy diagnostic techniques and their timing and accuracy in the table below:
|Days since ovulation||Method||Accuracy|
|26 – 35||Abdominal palpation: Pups can be felt by the experienced veterinarian through the abdominal wall of the relaxed and not overweight bitch as small “beads” along the uterine horns. By week 5 palpation of pups is no longer possible due to fluids in womb||Low. Pups in uterus feel similar to and can be confused with fecal pellets in the intestine. Also close to impossible to accurately determine number of pups in litter.|
|After 28 days||Relaxin (hormone) assay||Confirms pregnancy but not number of pups or whether they are alive or not.|
|26 – 63||Ultrasound||Accurately confirms presence of living fetuses (detects heart beating). Not accurate for litter size.|
|After 45 days||X-Ray (radiograph)||Best estimate of litter size.|
Given the short gestation period of the bitch – 63 days – there is not a whole heap of time to wait and see in any case. So I prefer patience and shy away from worrying about dog pregnancy tests at all. She is either pregnant or she isn’t! If she is… she’ll have pups; if she isn’t…. then she won’t.