How can dogs sense when you are pregnant? And what are the other behavioural signs?
Dogs know more than we think
How Dogs Can Sense Things Before You Know?
A dog's senses of hearing and smell are much more powerful than those of a human. It is because of these heightened senses that people "employ" guard dogs to protect their property, sniffer dogs to detect drugs and explosives, guide dogs to aid the blind, hearing dogs to accompany the deaf, and search and rescue dogs to play critical roles in various missions.
This increased sensitivity can even seem supernatural—for example, when canines seem to predict natural disasters. For instance, there are many accounts of animals (including dogs) acting strangely before the recent tsunami in Southern Asia, as if they knew that it was about to happen.
National Geographic says the following:
The belief that wild and domestic animals possess a sixth sense—and know in advance when the earth is going to shake—has been around for centuries.
Wildlife experts believe animals' more acute hearing and other senses might enable them to hear or feel the earth's vibration, tipping them off to approaching disaster long before humans realize what's going on.
It has also been reported that dogs are able to detect the subtle changes that occur in the body when cancer is present.
How Can Dogs Detect Pregnancy? And How Early Can They Tell?
Knowing all of these things, it's hardly surprising that dogs can also detect when women are pregnant. There's no scientific evidence to explain how they know this, but there are a couple of theories about it:
- Dogs May Be Able to Smell the Hormonal Changes—Firstly, it's possible that, with their heightened senses, dogs can smell the changes in hormones and pheromones that occur in a pregnant woman's body. These hormonal changes can take place as early as within the first month, which means that a dog could sense your pregnancy before you are even aware of it.
- Dogs May Be Able to Detect Emotional and Behavioural Changes—When you become pregnant, small changes in posture and habits will be apparent to your loyal canine. For example, you may go on shorter walks or tire more quickly. These are also things that would be noticeable by an observant human!
How Do Dogs Act Around Pregnant Women?
And when a dog detects your pregnancy, it might start acting very differently towards you. Dogs may:
- Become much more protective of you and your bump, as if it knows that there's another little person inside to look after!
- Start following you around everywhere you go.
- Begin sleeping with its head on your belly.
- Become jealous of this new rival for your affections!
Some cats have also been known to change their habits similarly. If your dog begins acting as though it is stressed or jealous, be sure to continue its routines as closely as possible. If it becomes difficult to walk it with the same regularity, find a friend or family member who can assist.
Behavioural Signs of Pregnancy
Sometimes other (perceptive) humans may be able to detect that you're pregnant—not from sniffing hormones and pheromones (unless they're unusually talented in this area!), but because of the way you behave.
During those early weeks before the first scan, most people want to keep their pregnancy a secret. However, even if you're not showing during that time, you may unconsciously be giving off signals.
With the massive hormonal changes that are taking place inside your body, it's not surprising that your behaviour and emotions might change. Apart from perhaps turning a bit green and having to throw up a lot, you may experience some of the following behavioural changes:
- An increased sense of wellbeing and happiness (from the hormonal changes, and probably also from the excitement of being pregnant). This can change your entire personality; a normally serious and fretful person might become light-hearted and optimistic. I know about this first change from personal experience, as my newly sunny disposition alerted my (rather observant) boss to my pregnancy!
- Hormonal changes can also cause you to become more emotional. You may become more sensitive to sad or happy things. They can also make you feel more stressed or irritable in situations that normally do not affect you.
- From very early on in your pregnancy, you may feel much more tired than normal.
- Hormonal changes when you become pregnant can cause frequent urination, and then your uterus begins to press on your bladder from as early as six to eight weeks of pregnancy. So it's possible that you might have to pop to the toilet quite a lot.
- You might start to get incredibly hungry as if you're eating for two right from the start—even though your baby is still the size of an apple seed.
- Cravings can also start quite early on, and some women crave some very strange things!
- You may have a heightened sense of smell, causing you to react unfavourably to scents. (I couldn't stand the smell of coffee or garlic, previously two of my favourite smells).
- Some women suffer from headaches in early pregnancy, which can make it difficult to concentrate.
- It's also quite common to become a bit forgetful.
Of course, not every pregnant woman will experience all (or indeed any) of these things, and sometimes these changes may be so subtle that nobody would notice them. But even if somebody did suspect that you were pregnant they would be unlikely to ask you anyway, as it's difficult to be 100 percent sure. And it would be embarrassing to be wrong! Only dogs (and other animals) seem to show no hesitation in reacting to your pregnancy.
If you're within the first month of your pregnancy, or you think that you might be, you may want to read my article Very Early Pregnancy Symptoms.