So your dog recently mated and now you are wondering if you can use a human pregnancy test for your dog. Human pregnancy tests are ready available in most stores, they are cheap, quick and pretty accurate, so why not use them to test dogs? Hold your horses though before heading to the pharmacy if you are really eager to know if puppies are on the way. A pregnancy test for humans is likely not going to be of any great help. Fortunately, there are several other better ways to know if puppies are coming. Read on to discover why pregnancy tests for humans aren’t suitable for your dog and learn some better ways to detect pregnancy in your female dog.
A Matter of Hormones
Early pregnancy tests for humans (EPT) won’t work for dogs for the simple fact that human pregnancy tests detect pregnancy by checking for the presence of HCG (Human Choriogonadotropin) in the urine. As the name implies, HCG is a hormone produced by pregnant humans.
Dogs, unlike humans, do not produce HCG, so using a human pregnancy test on dogs would be a totally useless practice and a waste of money too! There are currently no pregnancy tests for dogs available over the counter as easily as human ones.
“Bitches do not produce a pregnancy-specific hormone similar to human chorionic gonadotropin, the compound assayed in early pregnancy tests for women. In addition, progesterone is not a useful indicator of pregnancy because all bitches secrete progesterone for two months after heat, regardless of whether they were bred or not.” Dr. Margaret V. Root Kustritz.
Pregnancy Test for Dogs
The only pregnancy test that can be done on dogs is one that checks for relaxin, a hormone that can be detected around 22 to 27 days after implantation of the embryo. This test can be pretty accurate considering that according to VCA Animal Hospitals, relaxin levels remain elevated pretty much for the rest of the dog’s pregnancy and decline only following the end of pregnancy. However, it’s not an easy pregnancy test for dog owners to use considering that they will to draw blood and either have a centrifuge separate the blood from the serum (as plasma is needed) or bring the sample to the vet to have it properly spun. While the test may be reliable, Dr. Margaret V. Kustritz, a veterinarian specializing in reproduction, prefers ultrasound for detecting pregnancy in dogs for the simple fact that an ultrasound provides additional information such as litter size and fetal viability.
There are Better Ways
If you suspect your dog is pregnant, you may therefore want to skip giving your dog a home pregnancy test for humans. You may just want to be patient and wait for the early signs of pregnancy in dogs. Expect to see increased appetite, a possible behavior change such as being more clingy, quiet or loving and a slight swelling in the belly around 4 weeks into the pregnancy. The nipples will then become more evident and morning sickness may be seen in some dogs. However, these symptoms may be the same as those dogs developed in dogs when they go through a false pregnancy, so things can be misleading at times.
If you are particularly impatient to know whether your dog is pregnant, you can have your vet palpate your dog’s abdomen to detect the presence of pups as early as 28 days into pregnancy. This is best done by the vet, as rough palpation by dog owners can be harmful. At this stage, puppies may feel like small walnuts. Around 42 to 50 days after mating, puppies can also be detected by x-ray, but it may not be yet too accurate in telling the number of puppies. X-rays give a better idea of how many puppies to expect when done around day 55. Finally, ultrasound can provide information as early as day 20-22 into pregnancy, but the best results are attained around day 30.
The bottom line:
There are several ways to detect pregnancy in dogs and human pregnancy tests are definitively not one of them. Owners can wait to see first early signs of canine pregnancy at around 4 weeks, or they can have a vet confirm pregnancy in their dog through palpation, relaxin tests, x-rays or an ultrasound.