Pregnant with Pets – Can your pet tell you’re expecting?

-Dr. Katie

Recently, I blogged about “Concerns about Cats” and the “Dangers of Dogs”  during pregnancy.   Another common question we are asked regularly is “Can the animals tell you are expecting?” or something along those lines.   It’s a very interesting thought, and I’ll give my 2 cents here.   There is not much scientific literature on this so everything written here represents only my personal observations and opinions.

 

The short answer is yes. Yes, I think some pets can tell when an owner is expecting, but I haven’t been able to find scientific documentation of this phenomena.   What makes me say that? I’ve noticed on multiple occasions a pet (specifically dogs) becoming suddenly more protective of an expecting owner in the exam room. For example, I recently examined a dog who at previous visits was very sweet tempered, but during a visit accompanied by his expecting owner growled at our staff. This pet was back to his usual friendly self once we asked the owner to step out of the exam room for a minute.   I’ve also had owners report pets becoming clingier and following them around once they became pregnant.

 

So what exactly are these pets sensing?   I really don’t have the answer.   There are dogs that can smell cancer, sense an imminent seizure, smell dangerous drops in blood glucose in diabetics, and much more. There’s even a dog who is trained to sniff out pregnant polar bears from poop: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/11/12/elvis-the-dog-sniffs-out-pregnant-polar-bears/. Here’s what’s really amazing: the polar bear poop sniffing dog is right 97% of the time. So do I think dogs could pick up on some chemical changes in a pregnant woman’s body? I think it’s not out of the realm of possibility.   There are probably other cues a dog uses to sense something is different about their owner.   For example, a pregnant woman may suddenly be more protective of her belly and place her hands over her belly. She may change her diet, her exercise habits, and much more. All these changes are things your pet may notice. Your pet may not understand why all these changes occur, but they can definitely sense that something is different and their behavior may change in response.   Most pets are very good at reading body language since most animals lack verbal communication.

 

Do you have a story about your pet sensing pregnancy? We love to hear it! Post here as a comment or on our Facebook.

 

Remember, if you are expecting, it’s even more important for your pets to be healthy and up to date on vaccinations. Schedule an appointment today to get your pet checked out and up to date. Call us at 573-875-3647.

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