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The Chew: Your Dog and Your Pregnancy

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

“Moose is doing something I’ve never seen him do before,” Jay, one of our midday dog walkers, called to tell me. “He’s barking at nothing! Aggressive barking but there is nothing! No other people or dogs… I don’t even see a squirrel!”

I jumped on my computer to email the client and she had an unusual response: The area they live in has a population of foxes, and since she has become pregnant, Moose has been far more protective of her and the house. Ryan Fochler, owner of Dog Paws n Cat Claws (DPnCC) was sitting next to me and I relayed the information to him. I find it incredibly fascinating that this dog seems to know his mommy has something precious inside her. Ryan turns to me and asks, “Did I ever tell you about Booker?”

Booker is a cranky older black Lab/Hound mix that Ryan and wife Katie rescued years ago from Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, an organization DPnCC has worked with for 11 years. Booker was their first pet and he was never known to be affectionate or particularly sociable. When Katie became pregnant, Booker’s behavior changed so much they became concerned something was wrong. He followed Katie everywhere! He would lie next to her and didn’t like her to be too far out of his sight. He became much more affectionate and very protective of anyone getting too close to her.

When their baby son RJ came home, Booker went back to his usual anti-social behavior. A few years later, Booker for no good reason, began to follow Katie around again, protecting her, demanding affection and would even curl up on her lap, resting his head on her belly. A few days later, they found out she was pregnant! Somehow, Booker knew before his owners. On the day Katie’s water broke, she went into the shower and Booker climbed in with her!

There are several factors that may explain how a dog senses a pregnancy.

When a woman becomes pregnant, her body chemistry changes and for a dog, whose sense of smell is between 1000 and 10,000,000 times stronger than a human’s, it’s going to make the dog take notice that its owner’s scent has changed. A transformation in body shape and posture is another clue your dog could pick up on. Variations in your mood or your normal everyday behavior are also evident to your dog.

Very likely, your dog doesn’t know exactly what is going on during pregnancy, and will still be confused when you bring home the new bundle of joy, but they know something is different. While there aren’t any empirical studies, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence on this matter. Most of the stories I found were similar to that of Moose and Booker but not all dogs react with affection or overprotection.  Some can exhibit such behavior as marking territory, chewing on things they normally would not or being down right uncooperative.

At Dog Paws n Cat Claws, we consider ourselves a very family-oriented business. We have had so many pregnant clients schedule our pet taxi service to doggie daycare when it’s time to go to the hospital that we now provide a free pet taxi run at no charge to Dog Paws when the time comes.

So, a little word of advice: if your dog starts acting unusual, you might want to stop at the pharmacy on your way home. Rover may be trying to tell you something!

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager / Writer Extraordinaire

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