Is Ultrasound Necessary for the Pregnant Dog?

Is Ultrasound Necessary for the Pregnant Dog?

Dog pregnancy can be confusing and stressful. In general, the average period of canine pregnancy will last about 2 months. However, it is difficult to predict the timing of delivery because the breeding date doesn’t always match up with the conception date and the gestation period in dogs varies with breed and litter size. Thus, it is necessary to use some diagnostic tools for dog pregnancy confirmation. Then someone asks: is ultrasound necessary for a pregnant dog?

1. Pregnancy Test in Dogs

Diagnostic testing is the most accurate way to tell if a dog is pregnant.

#1 Ultrasound—the most reliable way

Ultrasound is a non-invasive technology widely applied both in veterinary and human medicine. The ultrasound probe records echoes of ultrasonic waves that are transmitted through the dog’s body to create an image. Ultrasound scanning is most often utilized with pregnant pets to gauge the health of puppies and kittens because abdominal ultrasound allows veterinarians to have a closer look at the internal organs. The owner of the puppy mill really should get the dog scanned for pregnancy with a vet ultrasound.

The Advantage of Ultrasound for A Pregnant Dog

There are many reasons that ultrasound is thought to be the most reliable way of evaluating canine pregnancy. One of the key advantages of ultrasound is that it offers a real-time look at the internal organs of those dogs. Other benefits of ultrasound for pregnant dogs include:

  • Non-invasive, pretty safe for pregnant dogs.
  • Require no necessary medication or anesthesia.
  • Great efficiency. The procedure won’t distress dogs.
  • Allow viewing the internal organs with greater precision.
  • Affordable.

Dog Pregnancy Confirmation

Ultrasound for a pregnant dog is best done 20-30 days after breeding. It is helpful to distinguish between pregnancy and pyometra.

As the best method used to visualize and evaluate the pups in the womb, ultrasound scanning won’t cause radiation exposure to the developing fetuses. It is pretty safe for puppies. However, it is less accurate to estimate fetal numbers because only a small portion of the uterus can be imaged in one view, and some fetuses may be double counted and others not counted at all.

Assessment of Fetal Viability

Ultrasound is a useful tool for the assessment of fetal viability, fetal malformations, and fetal distress. It can provide useful information for monitoring fetal growth for accessing gestational. Veterinarians can access the fetal heart rate and fetal movement with ultrasound probes.

It has been reported that normal fetal heart rates are 180-245 beats per minute in dogs. If the fetal heart rate is discovered less than 180 beats per minute and the fetal bowel movements are found by the ultrasound, severe fetal distress may happen. Ultrasound is important to implicate for managing clinical assistance and planning.

The Role of Vet Ultrasound in Canine Dystocia and Stillbirths

Canine dystocia or stillbirth can seriously harm the mother dog if it cannot be detected and managed as early as possible. It will cause uterine diseases, such as endometritis or pyometra. Also, canine dystocia or stillbirth may affect the dog’s next conception and even endanger her life. Therefore, early diagnosis of dog pregnancy is very necessary. Vet ultrasound is one of the most common methods of confirming dog pregnancy. And doppler ultrasound is a useful method for assessing the development of the placental and fetal circulation during normal and abnormal canine pregnancy.

If there is a substance with a slightly strong echo in the fluid that is found in the uterus of the pregnant dog, and the vertebrae and part of ribs can be vaguely discernible, but no heart beating can be seen, then the canine stillbirth can be confirmed.

#2 Relaxin Test

The Relaxin test, also called a hormone test, is a blood test to detect dog pregnancy by measuring levels of a hormone called relaxin. The hormone relaxin is only produced during the dog’s pregnancy and will decline following the end of the pregnancy. At about 25-30 days of gestation, the veterinarian can perform this test to confirm the dog’s pregnancy.

#3 Abdominal Palpation

By gently pressing on the surface of the dog’s abdomen with fingers, you can feel swellings in the uterus. Abdominal palpation is the traditional way of detecting pregnancy in a dog. This test must be careful, otherwise, it will damage the puppies. In addition, abdominal palpation is not reliable for determining the viability of the fetus.

#4 X-ray

Abdominal X-rays are useful in detecting dog pregnancy, but this is best done in the last trimester of gestation, as the puppies’ bony structures cannot be seen until then. However, dog stillbirth in the uterus would be difficult to detect on X-ray.


Come back to the question: is ultrasound necessary for the pregnant dog?

Ultrasound is not necessary for dog pregnancy because there are several other ways like relaxin test, abdominal palpation and X-ray to tell if a dog is pregnant. But ultrasound scanning is the most reliable way of detecting pregnancy and accessing the viability of the fetus.

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