Can Dogs Smell a Fetus?

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Introduction

We tend to share good news first with our best friends. So it’s interesting to note that dogs, considered to be our best friend, can sense what is arguably the best news in a person’s life. 

Many pregnant women believe that their dogs are among the first to know they are expecting. Can dogs smell a fetus? Whether it is a matter of smelling it or not, they do seem to sense it. Let’s take a closer look at the curious case of your doggo picking up on someone who isn’t even born yet.

Signs Your Dog Can Smell a Fetus

We may never fully understand the world a dog lives in. The things they sense and how they react to certain things in their environment – it is often beyond our comprehension. When a dog senses that you are pregnant, they will probably change their behavior towards you. They may start giving you more attention. They usually start cuddling you more and act more protective of you. You may feel they are becoming too clingy at times. Sometimes, even dogs that don’t know you may appear more friendly towards you than if you weren’t pregnant. 

You can expect your dog to bark at people passing by even if they seem friendly. Sometimes they may not even let some of your family members get too close. Overall, you will see your pooch being a lot more affectionate towards you. 

On the other hand, you may also see your dog having a somewhat negative reaction when they sense a fetus is growing inside you. They may start acting out, getting into accidents or making a mess around the house. Chewing up things, even toys, can be expected. If you see such changes, it is possible they will continue with similar behavior after the new arrival and you need to prepare accordingly.

Body Language

Here are some signs that show your dog can smell a fetus:
  • Growling
  • Alert
  • Cowering
  • Chewing
  • Ears back

Other Signs

Here are some more signs that your pooch can smell a fetus:
  • Being more affectionate
  • Being overprotective
  • Cuddling you or putting their head on your stomach
  • Aggression towards people approaching you
  • Being agitated and acting out

History of Dogs Smelling Fetuses

For the longest time, women have claimed that their dog was the first one to sense their pregnancy. As astounding as that may sound, this continues to this day. When only one month pregnant, actress Tia Morry tweeted about how during a photo shoot, the photographer’s dog kept coming to her. This made the photographer ask if she was pregnant. 

There was also a famous YouTube video, made by a pet insurance company. The video told the heartwarming story of a couple that adopts a dog after they have trouble conceiving. A couple of months later, the dog starts putting his nose on the wife’s abdomen for extended periods. As it turns out, the couple had finally managed to conceive and apparently their dog was the first one to sense the fetus. 

There are other women who also claim that their dogs behaved differently after they became pregnant. Earlier in history, the dogs’ reaction to pregnancy might have been highlighted more given the absence of modern methods of confirming a pregnancy. 

Throughout the ages, dogs have been able to sense a fetus by smelling the changes a body is undergoing. It’s not surprising, considering a dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 times better than a human’s.

Science of Dogs Smelling a Fetus

We talked about a dog’s sense of smell being incredibly more sharp than ours. This helps the dog pick up fetus-driven hormonal changes such as the new smell of the expectant mother’s skin and breath. As a pregnant body results in such odor changes, you can count on the masters of scents to detect them. This makes them more attentive, or at least more curious towards the would-be mother. 

In addition to the heightened sense of smell, your dog’s ultrasonic hearing also helps it detect the presence of a fetus. This enables them to even hear the baby crying in the womb, even though the mother cannot! Some breeds of dogs are more adept at sensing even the first few weeks of pregnancy than others. If the dogs don’t actually understand that a new family member will arrive some time later, they definitely do sense some changes are taking place.

Training Dogs to Behave Once They Smell a Fetus

In most cases, dogs react positively when they smell a fetus. They become more attentive, caring, or even protective of the expectant mother. But there have been instances of dogs misbehaving as a result of detecting a fetus. Remember that the negative behavior doesn’t necessarily mean the dog is being vindictive or spiteful. It’s simply the result of dogs being unable to process complex feelings and emotions. 

So it is important that you are understanding of your dog’s feelings. Make sure that your dog stays obedient. If the dog continues to act out, you need to test out a punishment that is both safe and effective. Crate training is also a good idea. Don’t forget to give the dog your proper attention as you don’t want to isolate them or hurt their feelings. 

You also need to watch your body language. For instance, if you cover up your belly, it sends a signal to your dog to “stay away”. If you let your dog snuggle, you’re telling them it’s alright to stay close.

From taking your dog on walks to making sure they are fed properly, continue to care for your pooch. Ignoring your dog or reacting too harshly will only make things worse. And if your dog is reacting positively, you may sometimes find them to be a little too clingy. So you need to be patient, as well.

How to React to Your Dog Smelling a Fetus:

  • Continue your normal care for your dog.
  • Encourage and praise your dog’s affection.
  • Mind your body language.
  • Be firm yet safe if your dog acts out.
  • Be patient if you feel your dog is getting too clingy.