A dog unexpectedly pregnant is referred to as "mismating," also scientifically termed, "misalliance."
An unexpected dogs pregnancy can always occur no matter how careful you are. Even one misalliance episode is enough for your dog to become pregnant – she will not even allow mating unless she is in the fertile phase of the estrus cycle.
While in the past the only option for unwanted pregnancy in dogs was to wait for the pups to be born and then find them loving homes, today there is a wider array of options.
What Do I Do If My Dog is Unexpectedly Pregnant?
If your dog is unexpectedly pregnant, the first thing you need to do is check whether your dog is actually really pregnant. If she is, you have a choice – to keep the babies or to get rid of them.
There are two options for getting rid of: having your dog spayed or provoking a chemical abortion. Of course, if you decide to spay your dog it means her future as a mother is sealed.
On the other hand, the abortion is a short-term solution and does not affect her ability to have pups one day.
In this article, we will explain the steps you need to take after your dog accidentally mated – from pregnancy tests through false pregnancy to abortion options for dogs.
Understanding False Pregnancy in Dogs
Before worrying about your dog being unexpectedly pregnant, firstly, determine whether your dog is actually pregnant. Something to be aware of is therefore, false pregnancy.
False pregnancy is a relatively common phenomenon in dogs. The condition develops in intact females and it mimics both the physical and behavioral signs of real pregnancy. In simple terms, the dog looks and acts like it is pregnant.
Usually the condition manifests in a mild form and is self-limiting – the pregnancy-like signs and symptoms last for around 14 to 21 days and then they gradually start subsiding. However, in more severe cases, medical attention and intervention are warranted.
Important is to therefore determine whether your dog is actually pregnant or not. There are a variety of ways to confirm an actual pregnancy in dogs.
How To Tell if a Dog is Pregnant
The best way of finding out whether your dog is pregnant is taking her to the vet. The vet will determine pregnancy based on three possible tests.
Test Number 1 – Abdominal Palpation
The vet can palpate the dog’s abdomen and check for bulges indicating there are puppies in the uterus. The test is simple and does not require any equipment, but it has its downfalls and is not routinely recommended.
For example, the uterine bulges are not detectable until four or five weeks after mating. Additionally, locating the bulges can be tricky in overweight dogs and dogs carrying particularly small pups.
Finally, a big lump of feces can mistakenly be identified as uterine bulge.
Test Number 2 – Relaxin Blood Test
Is there a pregnancy test for dogs? No, there is no dog pregnancy test equivalent to the human tests. However, the vet can determine whether your dog is pregnant by measuring its hormone levels.
This test is based on detecting the presence of a hormone called relaxin. Relaxin is produced by the placenta and its presence is a strong indicator of pregnancy. The relaxin blood test is a reliable way of differentiating a real pregnancy from a false pregnancy.
However, there are also some caveats. Namely, if performed too early while the pups are not properly developed, the test can give a false negative result.
For best results, the test can be repeated after 10 to 14 days or ideally performed over 22 days post mating. Another concern is that the test does not offer insight on whether the puppies are alive.
Test Number 3 – Ultrasound Scan
The test of choice for confirming pregnancy in dogs is ultrasound. Using ultrasonography, the vet can determine the presence of puppies as early as 3 ½ weeks post mating. Additionally, the technique allows evaluating their vitality.
The ultrasound scan can give a rough estimation on how many puppies the dog expects, however it cannot determine their exact number.
To count the fetuses, it is best to wait until the last three weeks of the pregnancy and perform an abdominal x-ray. For more on this read: Detecting pregnancy in dogs, ultrasound versus x-ray.
Can Dogs Get Abortions?
Yes, abortions are an option in dogs. Although the basic abortion concept is the same as in people, the technique is different. To be more accurate when dealing with an unwanted pregnancy there are two possible options.
Option Number 1 – Spaying Your Dog
Spaying your dog is the perfect solution if you do not plan on breeding your dog in the future. Talk to your vet about the pros and cons of performing this procedure in a pregnant dog.
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The procedure steps are the same as for non-pregnant dogs. However, the vet will have to be extra cautious because there will be greater bleeding risk considering that, the blood supply to the uterus increases during pregnancy.
Generally speaking, spaying your dog while pregnant is more difficult than the average routine spaying, but it is possible, and in certain situations, it is the best option.
Option Number 2 – Abortion
What can you give a dog to abort puppies? There are special drugs that can be used for abortion purposes in dogs. However, their use is strictly regulated and after being administered the dog needs to be carefully monitored by the vet.
The treatment of choice for unwanted pregnancies is using medications that will terminate the pregnancy by causing litter reabsorption. The most commonly used drug is called aglepristone (brand name Alizin®).
Aglepristone works by inhibiting the effects of the pregnancy hormone – progesterone thus causing the dog to reabsorb the embryos.
The drug is available in injectable form and is administered in the form of two injections given 24 hours apart.
The treatment can be used between 10 and 45 days post mating according to the manufacturer’s instructions. However, most vets will recommend using it before day 35 post mating.
Aglepristone has a 90 percent efficacy rate. Rarely, it is possible for one or two puppies to survive. Therefore, to make sure all puppies are reabsorbed, the vet will recommend a scan around 10 days after the second injection.
How late can you terminate a dog’s pregnancy? The product registered for abortion in dog Alizin® can be used up to 45 days post mating. However, to ensure a higher level of efficacy, it is advisable to administer the drug no more than 35 days post mating.
Can Homes be Founds For All Puppies?
This is an ethical question that affects the decision on whether you want your dog to keep her puppies or not. Finding home for all of the puppies can be a challenging task. This is particularly true for puppies born from parents of different breeds.
Before making the decision, you can contact local animal welfare organization and ask for their help as well as adoption tips. They can help you make an adoption plan, but keep in mind that it is not their responsibility to take care of your pups.
You can always ask your friends and relatives if someone wants to adopt a puppy or post on social media.
However, these activities should be done before your dog gives birth.
Finally, if you cannot find forever homes for all puppies, it is best to have them aborted, while it is not too late.
How Soon Can a Dog be Spayed After Giving Birth?
If you decided to keep this litter, but wish to prevent future ones, you are probably wondering how soon after birth can your dog be spayed. Well, after giving birth, your dog will be preoccupied with raising her newborn pups.
During this period, it is not advisable to separate the mother from the puppies.
Considering that puppies are usually weaned when two months old, it is safe to say that a dog should not be spayed for at least two months after giving birth.
Separating the babies is not the only issue. Namely, after the dog gives birth, the uterus remains enlarged and heavily supplied with blood for quite some time, thus making the spay procedure a bit more complicated.
Additionally, the dog’s breast will be swollen and filled with milk which can cause complications with the incision wound.
Dealing with an unwanted pregnancy in dogs can be a devastating situation. On one hand, you are sorry for the babies and want to keep them, but on the other hand, it is often hard to find loving homes for all the pups.
Unless you are able to keep the puppies, or find forever homes for every pup, terminating the pregnancy is your best option.
If you are not planning litters in the future have your dog spayed. This is the best way of preventing pregnancy in dogs. The procedure is simple and routinely performed.
Talk to your vet about the pros and cons of having your dog spayed. After all, spaying comes with several additional health benefits. Alternatively, if you want to leave an option for future litters talk to your vet about abortion.
Do not hesitate to ask the vet everything you want to know about the process or if you have any concerns. Vets understand how troublesome this decision can be and will happily navigate you through the situation.