health

An important investigation into whether your dog can sense you're pregnant.

Does my dog know I’m pregnant? This is a question I get asked SO often. 

Does your dog know that you are actually carrying a baby in your belly? And when you come home from the hospital, do they know that the baby you bring home was the same thing that was in your stomach? I can’t tell you for sure, but I would say it’s highly unlikely that they can connect the dots to that degree. 

However, dogs are highly intelligent animals with an incredible sense of smell, and can be very sensitive to change. Change in your odour from your shift in hormones to changes in your moods and emotions, routines, body posture and how you are feeling.

Watch: Why do we love dogs so much? Post continues below.


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The human body really does an amazing job preparing for newborns. A pregnant women's body is changing all the time, especially as they are nearing giving birth.

In the last trimester, our dogs might even be able to smell the amniotic fluid and the milk production; they might also be able to hear the fetal heartbeat, although there's not a lot of scientific evidence to prove this (but it’s still pretty incredible when you think about it.)

Here are the changes our dogs detect during pregnancy, and examples I noticed with my dog, Cooper.

Dogs detect changes in our odour.

Pregnant women are bursting with hormones. And hormones can alter the body odour of humans. 

Dogs have an innate ability to pick up on these changes. I mean, they don’t actually know what’s about to happen (i.e. a human growing inside your belly and a baby coming out in nine months time) but they definitely know that something is going on.

I could tell very early on that my dog had sensed some changes in me. But that was also because I was incredibly unwell in my first few months so our routine had also changed significantly and I’m sure my moods and my body posture were all different too.

Cooper giving Harper some kisses in my belly! Image: Supplied.

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Dogs detect body language.

As our belly grows, our body posture changes and dogs can sense this change. 

They can also sense if we are a little off balance. I struggled with pelvic instability during my pregnancy with Harper, there were days it was so painful that I could hardly walk. 

In some respects, Cooper was great and really understanding as it impacted him and the exercise he got. 

I also had terrible morning sickness for the first 17 weeks of all my pregnancies and again, Coop was very understanding and patient with the decrease in walks and my energy levels.

In fact, when I look back on this, the change in lifestyle was a great insight into life with kids - as daily walks and exercise routines were about to become less regular. So in a sense, it was actually preparing him for some of the changes that were about to happen.

Dogs detect our moods.

Pregnancy can be a rollercoaster of emotions. I often hear clients say that their dog has become quite clingy or protective during their pregnancy. Maybe they are just being there for us, because they can sense all of this change and they are so in-tune in knowing that we just need a little extra comfort?

It’s a nice thought, and rational. In the lead-up to falling pregnant with Harper, I was pretty depressed. It took us some time and we had some issues along the way. I was home a lot and Cooper was there with me all the way. 

Apart from my husband, he was really the one thing that helped cheer me up during this time. I couldn’t have gotten through that hard time in my life without him.

Dogs detect our pain.

Cooper knew when I was in labour (and f*ck it was painful!)

As my contractions started getting more and more painful, he came up to me when I was lying on the bed and started licking my face. 

At the time, I thought he was doing that to help me get through it. Looking back, now that I know more about how a dog communicates, I think my pain was actually making him feel a little uneasy and stressed out. Licking can be a calming or a stress signal. How interesting is that?!

Our dogs can definitely sense change. They can see it, feel it and smell it. Whether they know exactly what it is and exactly what it means, isn’t certain. But it is so interesting and quite possible to think that our dogs are already exposed naturally to the scent of our baby prior to bringing them home.

Mel Ritterman is a qualified dog trainer and mum-of-three. You can see more from Mel on her website Cooper and Kids, or follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

Feature image: Supplied/Mel Ritterman.

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