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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

News & Views September 2019 Issue

Forget the Pregnancy Test — Your Dog Can Tell You

© Yastremska | Bigstock

The dog may have known even before she did.

Many women have said that during their pregnancies, their dog became more clingy, or more protective, or simply more attentive, as if they knew. Some women have claimed the dog’s behavior changed even before a positive pregnancy test. Is that possible?

It’s entirely possible, even probable. A dog may not know a woman is going to have a baby, but he’s definitely aware that something’s up. Consider that dogs can smell everything from cancer to an attack of low blood sugar in people with diabetes, seizures that are about to erupt, and even minuscule amounts of gluten in food to warn people with celiac disease not to eat it. Their noses can detect odors at concentrations a million times less than we can in some cases. So why wouldn’t a dog be able to detect the scent of all the hormone increases that occur during pregnancy?

It’s not just what they smell. It’s what they sense in mood and behavior. If your mood is calmer, happier, more sensitive, or otherwise changed, a dog will pick up on it; it’s critical to his survival as he has to read cues from humans to be able to make it in their world. He’ll also notice changes such as your going to the bathroom more or feeling unwell due to morning sickness. Combined with new scents, these changes will most certainly tip him off — sometimes even before you yourself are tipped off.

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