We all hear remarkable stories about how certain dogs are able to ‘sniff’ the presence of a disease in a person long before the same health condition can be detected by modern laboratory and diagnostic tests. But is it even possible for our furry four-legged friends to detect pregnancy long before the woman is even aware of it? Can animals sense pregnancy before you know it? In this post we’ll try to decipher our four-legged friends’ remarkable scenting and health condition-detecting abilities especially in human pregnancy.
The Power of Smell
Even though your dog is not a scenthound, the smell receptors inside its nose far outnumber those found in the human nose by up to 60 times. Dogs have the remarkable ability to differentiate anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 different scents, aromas, smells, and odors. This means that their brain allots significant brain power in the processing of such sensory information. They say that a dog’s brain can dedicate 40 times its brain power just to decipher minute changes in scents that are present in the air.
How does this fit into our question, you might ask? Well, when a woman is pregnant, there are a lot of changes that occur in the body that typically stem from spikes in certain hormones. These can produce chemical changes that emit almost-unrecognizable odors. We can somehow smell these bodily changes but our brain is simply not geared to process such minute differences.
A dog’s brain, however, can detect such changes no matter how imperceptible they are to us. No one can tell how early a dog can ‘sniff’ the scent of human pregnancy. The point here is that scenthounds will be keener in detecting even the slightest change in the chemical composition of the embryo that is slowly developing inside the woman’s womb.
You have to understand by now that nothing – and we really mean nothing – can get by the nose of a dog.
Reading Your Mood and Behavior
Not only can your dog ‘smell’ that you’re pregnant, but it can read your mood and behavior, too. In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy when the woman may not even be aware that she is already pregnant, some women have reported increased anxiety and feelings of exhaustion. Some may also begin feeling more tired or even sick. When they learn of the pregnancy, their mood can be one of joy and elation or maybe even of disbelief. No matter how the woman reacts to her pregnancy, this can be manifested through her behavior and mood.
Dogs have a very uncanny way of detecting whether their human owner is in a good mood or not. If they somehow sense that you’re feeling down, they’d come up to you and try to cheer you up. They may try to lick your face or your hands and even snuggle up to you. It’s their way of telling you that you can count on them. When they sense that you’re happy, they can celebrate with you, too.
Deciphering Changes in Your Body
Everyone knows the bodily changes that occur with pregnancy. The tummy gets bigger and bigger. But this typically occurs around the 5th month of pregnancy, although some may have it sooner or even later. Aside from the very obvious ‘growth’ of the abdomen, there are other physical changes that are attributed to pregnancy. These can include darker pigmentation in the areola of the breasts, fuller breasts, wider hips, and the like. We don’t usually pay attention to these ‘changes’, but your dog does.
Fido is always observant. It knows if you are already impaired in your mobility because of the growing fetus in your womb. It can sense even the slightest change in your strength. Your dog may not really know that you are pregnant per se, but it sure knows something has changed in you.
How a Dog Lets You Know It Knows You’re Pregnant
We now know that a dog can somehow ‘smell’ the various chemical changes that occur in the body of a pregnant woman and ‘sense’ minute changes in her mood, behavior, and body language. However, it is also important to look at the signs your dog knows you’re pregnant.
How a dog reacts to your pregnancy can be very varied, depending on the dog. There are dogs that become very protective of their “pregnant” owners that they somehow watch her every move. For example, they may not want to walk very far or very fast since they know that this can ‘tire’ their pregnant owner.
Some dogs will be especially vigilant of the activities of their owners, instantly coming to their rescue if the dog somehow senses that something is wrong. For example, a dog may walk with you at your heels and will follow your every command. However, once you’re pregnant, you may no longer be able to walk the same dog safely because it may pull on its leash if it senses a threat to you. This dog should be walked by another person, someone that it also trusts.
There are also dogs that may react in a rather negative way, perhaps fearing the inevitable arrival of a competitor for the attention of its human owner. Some dogs may be especially agitated or aggressive. They may bark or growl and may also be uncooperative. This type of dog can be a problem for the pregnant woman so it’s best that the dog be handled by someone else.
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Over time, however, most dogs will be able to adapt to both the physical and emotional changes of human pregnancy that they will eventually return to their ‘normal’ behavior. There will be those that will have a more difficult time adjusting, however. Training your dog and preparing it in time for the arrival of your baby is crucial to keeping the household peace.
Dogs are very sensitive animals. They’ve become especially fond of us that they even know if their woman owner is going to be a mommy soon.