Can Pets Sense Pregnancy?

Image of a cat and pregnant lady.

Your pets probably don't understand that in nine months a new baby will be joining your family, but dogs and cats do detect differences in mood, posture, behavior, and body chemistry that clue them that an enormous change is happening.


Your dog or cat will pick up other signs, too: Our four legged friends are masters at reading our body language, so they'll notice when your movements start to get more and more awkward. Pets are also highly attuned to changes in your daily routine - say, if you're not taking your dog for runs as often as you used to, if you're spending more time on the couch, or if family members are treating you with extra care.


It's common for dogs to go on alert and become overprotective of their expecting owner from the very beginning of her pregnancy. Behaviorists have witnessed dogs growl, bark, or even block doors with their bodies to prevent other family members - even the baby's father - from coming into the same room as the mom-to-be.

Cats on the other hand are less socially involved, therefore less likely to go through these sorts of behavioral changes. Cat owners have reported a wide range of responses from uninterested to more loving and protective behaviors. But keep giving your cat attention and love during your pregnancy, as neglected cats may become more aggressive or act out by urinating where they're not supposed to, like in your bed or laundry basket.

To help prevent problem behaviors, try to stick to your pre-pregnancy routine as much as you can, and ask family members and friends to help when you're not up for a run in the park or a long brushing session. I advise clients to develop a plan for their pet while they're in the hospital, just like they'd develop a birth plan. Line up a caretaker for your pets and write down your pets' schedules for that person.

To help your dog understand that you still love him, be careful of the messages you send through your body language. Pregnant women often unconsciously place their hands over their stomachs, and dogs read this closed-arm posture as saying "I'm unavailable" or "step back." Open-armed postures, on the other hand, send dogs the message to "come here."

If your dog or cat starts seriously misbehaving during your pregnancy, or if you don't have experience preparing pets for a new baby, it's a good idea to get help from a professional trainer. Many offer "baby readiness" classes or individual training sessions to help pets adjust.

If you stay on top of any potential behavior problems, having pets during your pregnancy and afterward can be a wonderful thing for you and your baby. Studies have shown that spending time with a domesticated animal can improve mood, reduce depression, lower blood pressure, and even help you live longer. So enjoy!

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  • "Highly recommend Chocowinity Vet if you want excellent care for your pets and an extremely friendly and helpful staff! They were able to get us in immediately today (Saturday) when one of our dogs had an infected hot spot that needed treatment. Within 20 minutes of my phone call to them I was walking in the front door and straight into an exam room! Thank you so much!"
    Stacy McClary
  • "I wish I could give this place 10 stars, I have never been more pleased with a group of vets and vet techs! Everyone was so caring and inviting. Becky and all the others took great care of my Ozzy before, during, and after his surgery, all while not draining your bank account. I highly recommend"
    Demi Makajla Justesen
  • "Thank you again! You all are amazing ..I always recomed you and always will.I appreciate the care and treatment of my dogs .the staff and vets are amazing"
    Lisa Uptown Henderson
  • "Very friendly and helpful staff. I love it when General is lounging on the counter, waiting to be pet."
    Teresa Pless White
  • "Swift Creek Doodles love Chocowinity Veterinary Hospital! The caring team there makes it a welcoming and friendly environment. Always looks and smells very clean inside which is something I look at every time I walk in. Doctors are very understanding with issues and explain everything in detail. After the switch from a vet hospital in New Bern, I can really tell a difference in care. Thank you for taking care of our doodles!"
    Will Grant