And they call it...puppy love
November 9, 2008 4:37 PM   Subscribe

Barring her vet appointment next week, how do I know if my dog is pregnant outside of a hunch? And if she is, what do we do? Much more inside...

We adopted a sweet and very friendly Beagle from the SPCA about three weeks ago. She and our somewhat younger Whippett/Terrier mix get along well, and we've liked having her despite the doubling of our pet responsibilities. We believed that she had been used to make litters of hunting dogs (we live in the pseudo-country), and she had pronounced baby feeding apparatus and a slightly poochy belly when she first came home. We were told she was "about two and a half."

Lately, she's been getting more and more food aggressive toward our other dog—who is a bit rambunctious and can be annoying to her, but never fights over food—and has even taken to polishing off her own dinner before getting into his. She spends a lot of time camped out by the doggy door in the kitchen, "just in case." The past two nights, she's lured our other dog outside before returning inside herself, where she guards the doggy door and growls at him when he tries to come back in—sort of like she wants to be alone, and not have him try to play with her. Her belly feels firm, and her teats are getting more pronounced. She isn't fixed yet, but doesn't ever roam free; our dog is neutered so this must have happened before we adopted her.

So, let's say she is pregnant: my wife and I aren't really interested in the mess and stress of delivering puppies and trying to find homes for all of them. We also don't want to give her up all over again to a shelter. We also feel a little imposed upon, since if she is pregnant the chances are pretty good that the shelter knew about it and let us adopt her anyway.

Anyone have experience with a similar situation? What are our options for letting someone else deal with the pregnancy, or is that not even reasonable?
posted by littlerobothead to Pets & Animals (14 answers total)
Often for unspayed female dogs if the pregnancy isn't too far along your vet can do a combination abortion/neutering which will solve both this problem and future problems.
posted by jessamyn at 4:49 PM on November 9, 2008

I thought the ASPCA fixed all animals before adopting out. They really didn't fix her? That is very strange. You can obtain pregnancy termination/abortion for the dog.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 4:51 PM on November 9, 2008

Firstly, congratulations on your new dog! I'm honestly surprised your SPCA didn't neuter her before adoption...

I'm not sure how squeemish you are, but if your new dog is indeed pregnant and if it's not too far along, your vet can do a doggie-abortion and neuter her at the same time. It's not an ideal solution, but better than most of the alternatives.

You will have to let her be examined by a vet though. You haven't known the dog long enough to really know her personality and her changed behaviour may be due to her being more secure in her new home, rather than a pregnancy.
posted by roshy at 4:51 PM on November 9, 2008

Also it just occured to me-- because the adoption was so recent, perhaps your local SPCA would be willing to contribute towards a vet check? Our RSPCA insists on a thorough examination by their own vets before the animal is released. It's probably worth more to your SPCA to set your mind at ease, rather than see her come through their doors again.
posted by roshy at 5:01 PM on November 9, 2008

If she's at the point of defining a "den" and guarding it you might have those puppies before the vet visit. Get her a nice dark,quiet spot where she can hang out. Like some towels inside a cardboard box laid on it's side inside a closet with the door propped open just a bit. And keep the other dog out of there. If she's about to whelp she doesn't need any stress. If she does produce a litter I'm pretty sure you can count on the SPCA to take them once they're weaned and deal with the re-homing etc.

Having said that, some smart dogs just enjoy screwing with their dog companions so the doggy door thing may be her version of an hilarious practical joke. And taking the food may be to show him who's boss. Our older female dog does stuff like this to the young male dog all the time. She'll lay on a bog floor rug and not allow him to set foot on it,it's funny to watch a big male dog sidle along the wall while getting the hairy eyeball from the canine equivalent of a little old lady.
posted by fshgrl at 5:07 PM on November 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

I don't mean lock her in the closet, just prop the door open far enough that she can come and go as she pleases but it's not open to the world. Sorry, that was confusing.
posted by fshgrl at 5:08 PM on November 9, 2008

Two years ago, my mom adopted an abandoned chihuahua with similar habits and pronounced teats. She wondered if the dog was pregnant, also. But it never developed, and now the girl is much sweeter and mellower -- her teats are still large, though. Our theory is that she was carelessly bred in her old home.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:10 PM on November 9, 2008

Thanks for the input thus far, everyone. I'll post back when I know more.
posted by littlerobothead at 5:47 PM on November 9, 2008

It's not possible to get unspayed females from the SPCA here, are you really sure she wasn't done already? I'd be surprised if it wasn't in the book they (no doubt) gave you.
posted by The Monkey at 6:38 PM on November 9, 2008

It's VERY uncommon for SPCAs to adopt out unfixed dogs, have you double-checked your paperwork from them? That said, you have no way of knowing if she is pregnant before the vet appointment (unless she actually goes into labor), dogs are very prone to false pregnancies (including producing milk) because of the way their reproductive cycles work. You should definitely consider having her spayed asap whether she is pregnant or not (it is a much bigger deal surgically if she is pregnant, but yet another litter of unwanted puppies is an even bigger deal), and I would be contacting the SPCA to find out what the deal is about why they adopted her out without spaying her first.
posted by biscotti at 7:11 PM on November 9, 2008

I don't think there's a pee-on-a-stick test for dogs, but yes, there are doggie abortions available.

My family ended up taking in a cat that turned out to be pregnant, and ended up getting an early-term abortion at the same time as the cat was spayed. It's apparently common enough that nobody at the vet's seemed to raise an eyebrow about it.

I didn't ask for the gory details on the whole thing, but I think they may have done a hysterectomy in addition to the oophorectomy (spaying) in order to accomplish the termination, but I'm not entirely sure.

Someone at the vet's office did mention that abortions were more commonly performed on dogs than cats, so I don't imagine you'll run into much trouble.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:02 PM on November 9, 2008

To all those who asked if she really was "un-fixed" when we got her the answer is an emphatic "yes." We were given a credit to get her the surgery, but since she doesn't run free and our other dog is neutered we put it off. We did, however, take her for a physical and for her shots during which visit no one said a word about a pregnancy.

Since I posted this I've gotten word from a friend that this could be a "hysteric pregnancy" brought on by being around our other, younger, male dog that she might view as one of her puppies?
posted by littlerobothead at 8:13 PM on November 9, 2008

If she viewed the other dog as a puppy she's be trying to carry it around and growling at you if you came near it, more likely.
posted by fshgrl at 9:32 PM on November 9, 2008

We adopted a (female) puppy and we didn't get her spayed (this was in Japan, and it cost something like $300). One day our dog started acting strangely. She became quite aggressive and weird. Eventually her belly swelled and she developed teats. "Oh, shit," we thought. "She's pregnant!"

We took the dog to the vet, and he said she was having a false pregnancy. After about a week she calmed down, and then we got her spayed.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:31 PM on November 9, 2008

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