So your dog recently mated and now you are wondering if you can use a human pregnancy test for your dog, but do human pregnancy tests work for dogs? 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.
Do Human Pregnancy Tests Work for Dogs?
Do human pregnancy tests work for dogs? The answer is no. 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. While there actually is a pregnancy test for dogs, it's not as easy to use as the one designed for humans and it requires special equipment that isn't readily available in most human households. These dog pregnancy tests purposely made for dogs are described below.
"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
A Pregnancy Test for Dogs
The only pregnancy test that can be done on dogs is one that checks for relaxin, a special hormone that can be detected around 22 to 27 days after implantation of the embryo (generally, when the dog is about 4 weeks pregnant).
These pregnancy tests work for dogs and can be pretty accurate too 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, this is not an easy pregnancy test for dog owners to use considering that they will have 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. Results though can be obtained quite quickly, often in approximately 10 minutes.
What are the costs for these dog pregnancy tests? The tests may be quite costly, considering that, on average, a dog relaxin pregnancy test may cost anywhere between $133.00 and $155.00. Many professional dog breeders purchase these tests and are happy with the results. Currently, the most popular pregnancy test for dogs is the Witness Relaxin Pregnancy Test and the kit contains five tests.
While these pregnancy tests work for dogs and may be reliable, Dr. Margaret V. Kustritz, a board-certified 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.
What are the signs of early pregnancy in dogs? Expect to see increased appetite, a possible behavior change such as being more clingy, quiet or loving and weight gain with 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 what is known as a false pregnancy (also known as phantom pregnancy), so things can be misleading at times. This is because the hormones produced by a non-pregnant dog during a phantom pregnancy are just about the same as those produced during pregnancy.
If you are particularly impatient to know whether your dog is pregnant, you have several options available. For instance, 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 as this is when the puppy's skulls and spines are readily visible on radiographs and the vet can do some counts.
Ultrasound can provide information as early as day 20-22 into pregnancy, but the best results are attained around day 30. An ultrasound is a non-invasive way to determine pregnancy in dogs. During an ultrasound, high-frequency, low-intensity sound waves reach the tissues of the dog's abdomen. The abdomen is shaved down and the dog is placed on the back. An ultrasound can detect pregnancy in dogs by detecting the fetal heartbeats. An accurate count of how many puppies the dog may expect may not always be possible.
Finally, pregnancy in dogs can be obviously confirmed by simply waiting. If your dog happens to be pregnant, you will see progressing signs of pregnancy after the early signs. Consider that puppies are usually born approximately 57 to 64 days after breeding with the pregnancy on average being 63 days long.
The Bottom Line
As seen, human pregnancy tests work for dogs, but they are the ones designed for humans. Dogs do not produce the same hormones women do when pregnant. There are several ways though to detect pregnancy in dogs and although human pregnancy tests are definitely not one of them, owners wondering whether their dog is pregnant can decide to 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 dog pregnancy tests, x-rays or an ultrasound.