Signs of Pregnancy in Labrador Retrievers

There are a few signs your Labrador retriever may be pregnant.
There are a few signs your Labrador retriever may be pregnant. (Image: Labrador retriever litter image by crazy.nataly from

Unlike for pregnant women, there is no urine or standard blood test that can be given to a pregnant dog to determine pregnancy. Because of this, unless you were trying to actively breed your dog while she was in heat, you may not know your Labrador retriever is pregnant until around the third or fourth week of pregnancy, when a vet can palpate the stomach to feel for the placentas. Knowing the signs of a pregnant dog will help you seek medical attention for your dog as soon as possible.

Decreased Appetite

One of the earliest symptoms a pregnant woman experiences is morning sickness. According to Dog Obedience Training Review, dogs undergo a similar experience. Unlike a pregnant woman, your pregnant Labrador retriever cannot tell you she is nauseous. Instead, you will have to watch for signs of nausea. In dogs, a common sign is lack of appetite. You may find that she refuses to eat at all or if she does eat, her food intake is greatly decreased in the beginning of the pregnancy. Luckily, just as morning sickness passes for women, your dog will begin to eat again after a few weeks, once her hormone levels balance out. Once this happens, you will likely notice a rapid weight gain.

Decrease in Activity

Also, like a pregnant woman becomes exhausted during her first trimester of pregnancy, pregnant dogs become exhausted as well. The change in hormones in the body can trigger a decrease in activity. According to Dog Obedience Training Review, you may also see a decrease in affection from normally affectionate dogs. As she is adjusting to the new hormones in her body, she will likely not have the energy to express affection to you or your family and may become withdrawn.

Nipple Growth

The hormones created during pregnancy will also change the appearance of your Labrador retriever’s nipples. As her pregnancy progresses, her body will begin to stimulate her mammary glands to produce milk for the new puppies. As this stimulation occurs, according to Dog Obedience Training Review, the nipples will appear to grow because the tissue and glands under the nipples are growing.

Abdominal Size

Generally, canine gestation periods range from 60 to 65 days. Around the fifth week of pregnancy, or day 35, you will begin to notice that your Labrador retriever's belly is expanding. As the puppies are developing inside her, her abdomen will have to grow to accommodate them. This may be noticed as just a broadening of her belly or you may notice a more pronounced growth, depending on the size of your dog as well as the number of puppies growing inside her.

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