Dogs have the innate ability to sense or perceive human beings and their state of mind through their heightened sense of smell. If you have had a dog as a pet, you know their capacity to love unconditionally, protect your family and most importantly be a great companion. So, when my dog started acting super clingy and concerned in my second month of pregnancy, I realized he knew too. But how do dogs sense pregnancy?
What triggers a dog’s ability to sense changes in your body? Can dogs smell pregnancy? And they know about your pregnancy even before you do?
According to What To Expect, “First off, dogs’ sense of smell is notoriously sensitive — scientists say they can smell up to 100,000 times better than we humans can. And, like us, dogs have not one but two senses of smell. One picks up on important stuff, such as food odors. The other (known as Jacobson’s organ or vomeronasal organ) picks up on what’s known as pheromones. These chemical compounds transmit signals to other dogs, helping them to detect, for example, a dog’s readiness to mate and even potentially another dog’s health.”
How do dogs know you are pregnant?
When a woman is pregnant, her body is going through hormonal, physical, and emotional changes. For instance, there is a sudden influx of hormones during pregnancy, which can alter your scent. With their heightened sense of smell, dogs can sniff out a variety of medical conditions, including pregnancy.
Jeff Alberts, a professor at the University of Indiana Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences Animal lab, says, “There have been extraordinary reports about olfactory senses of dogs. They can discriminate subtle distinctions in biology, and their receptors are orders of magnitude more sensitive than humans are.”
A study published in an issue of Gut, from the International Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, states that a Labrador retriever could detect colorectal cancer with 98% and 95% accuracy in human samples. The study aimed to find out if a dog could pick a specific smell linked to cancer. The study proved the dog could, which indicates that the dog has a strong smell memory and can relate to similar smells.
If you have previously been pregnant or in the house was pregnant, the dog can connect the two and recognize the change.
How early can dogs sense pregnancy in humans?
There is no scientific evidence of the exact time when your dog starts sensing pregnancy changes. But your dog’s nose misses nothing. Your dog will pick up any subtle movements or behavioral changes. The collected information alerts your dog to changes, and that makes them curious about your condition. Technically they don’t know you are pregnant, but they know something is changing.
How dogs respond to their pregnant owners depends on the dog. Some become clingy and protective. Others may be intimidated by your growing size.
Their reactions also may mirror yours. On days when you feel down and tired, your dog perceives your vulnerability and reacts accordingly. When you feel good and energetic, your dog will either be indifferent or match your enthusiasm.
Prepare your dog for the new arrival
Preparing dogs for the arrival of a baby is very important, especially if the dog has been the only baby in the house. You know your dog and how it behaves with different people. This will help you understand what areas to work on with your dog before bringing your baby home.
Dogs are creatures of habit, and a new baby is going to disrupt their daily routine. Work with them to prepare your dog for this change. For example, you may need to start varying the times and routes for your daily walk. You also may need to hire a dog walker for a while.
Happy ever after
If you haven’t already taken your dog to obedience classes, it’s a good idea to do so before you bring the baby home. You want your dog to be on her best behavior around your newest family member.
Since your dog senses pregnancy and knows change is coming, she’s more likely to be prepared for the new arrival. Most dogs quickly accept the baby and become the child’s most prominent defender. And growing up with dogs provides many health benefits for children, including reducing the risk of allergies and obesity.
Roselin Raj is a journalist and writer. She has been writing extensively on health and wellness-related topics for a little over a decade now. Besides her professional interests, she loves a game of basketball or a good hike in her free time to fuel her spirits. “Health is wealth” is one motto of life that she lives by as well as advocates to every reader who comes across her blogs.