Owning a dog when you’re pregnant: your questions answered

If you’re pregnant – or planning to have a baby – there’s lots to think about for this exciting stage of your life.

Should you already own a dog, you might like to know how they’ll respond to your pregnancy, and which activities you can continue to do with them.

Don’t yet have a dog, but would like to adopt? Then you might be wondering whether it’s a good idea to take on a pooch when you’re pregnant.

You might be curious for yourself or be part of a couple expecting a baby. Either way, we’ve got advice to help ensure your faithful friend remains a valued member of your family.

On this page, we’ll tackle these popular queries:

Do dogs know when you’re pregnant?

Some dog owners, when they're expecting a baby, think their pet is behaving differently to normal. For example, their pooch might snuggle up to them more than before. The owner may wonder if the dog knows they're pregnant.

While dogs don’t understand the idea of pregnancy, they can be sensitive to change. Their amazing sense of smell and hearing, and close bond with their owners, means they can pick up on anything different.

Those might be differences in the pregnant person’s behaviour. That could be changes to the way they smell (thanks to pregnancy hormones) or to their body shape as the baby develops. A dog might also notice shifts in routine – such as when they’re taken for a walk – or new things appearing, like baby equipment.

Any differences you notice in your dog’s behaviour could be in response to those changes.

If you believe your dog is stressed, or are worried about changes in their behaviour, now is the time to book an appointment with your vet. They’ll be able to rule out any underlying health issues. If relevant, they may recommend you contact a qualified dog behaviourist.

How will my dog act if I’m pregnant?

That depends on your dog as well as the things you do. You might find they want to be by your side more, or a bit less. They might seem anxious or quiet. Or you might not notice much difference in how they behave.

You can use this time to help your dog adjust to having a baby in the household. The time you put in now will really pay off when your baby arrives. You’ll be able to spend time getting to know your new child, confident that you’ve already taught your dog useful skills to help them feel settled too.

It’s important during this time to look out for signs of stress in your pooch. If you spot any, respond in a way that’s appropriate, such as giving them space. Try to identify and avoid the triggers.

If you believe your dog is stressed, or are worried about changes in their behaviour, now is the time to book an appointment with your vet. They’ll be able to rule out any underlying health issues. If relevant, they may recommend you contact a qualified dog behaviourist.

Is it safe to have a dog while pregnant?

As long as you take some safety measures, you can continue to do the activities you usually would with your dog.

If you’re uncertain, or have a specific medical condition, then you should talk to your doctor.

Whether you’re out walking your dog or relaxing with them at home, you’ll want to make sure that you feel safe and stable.

If your dog jumps up or tends to pull on the lead, then start to train them away from those behaviours now. That’s especially important if they’re strong enough to push or pull you over. Our advice on stopping your dog jumping up and training them to walk nicely on the lead should help.

If you haven’t yet taken your faithful friend to training classes, now’s a good time. Our four-week Dog School programme will teach you and your pal essential skills.

For most, it’s best to keep active during pregnancy. The NHS recommends that those who are pregnant should continue with their usual activities for as long as they feel comfortable. Getting outside with your pooch pal can be part of your regular routine.

The benefits extend to partners too. If it’s your loved one who’s pregnant, it’s good for you to exercise with the family pooch. It’ll boost your physical health and can help your mental wellbeing, as well as being great for your pet.

It’s important to keep your dog up-to-date with their flea, tick and worming treatments when you’re pregnant. And if they fall ill, take them to the vet as soon as possible.

You might have specific health worries around dogs and pregnancy. We’ve answered two of the most common questions below.

Can you pick up dog poo when you’re pregnant?

For most, it’s safe to continue picking up dog poo while they’re pregnant. If you have doubts, or a specific medical condition, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor.

Otherwise, keep scooping the poop, bag it and bin it – it's part of being a responsible dog owner.

Pick up the poo with something, such as a scooper or plastic bag, so you’re not touching it. Put it in a poo bag, tie it and put it in a designated bin or any public litter bin. As dog poo can carry bacteria, viruses and parasites, you should wash your hands as soon as possible afterwards.

Can you kiss your dog while pregnant?

If your dog usually licks your face or lets you kiss them, it might be tempting to continue. But these come with added risks when you're pregnant.

When you’re expecting a baby, your immune system isn't as good at fighting off bugs. That means you're more at risk of infection. You can still snuggle up to your four-legged friend but consider skipping the pooch smooches for now.

Can I adopt a dog while pregnant?

You might be pregnant and considering adopting a dog from us at the same time.

There are no fixed rules, but when we review adoption applications, we'll need to feel confident that:

  • you'll be a responsible dog owner

  • now is a good time for you to adopt

  • you're a good match for the pooch you're interested in.

If you’re in a late stage of pregnancy when you apply to adopt, we’ll usually encourage you to wait to have the baby. Then, when you're settled at home with your new child, you can look to adopt a dog.

The dog can then get used to their new household with the baby there. That's better for the dog than having their routine disrupted by the new arrival.

Building your new family with your dog by your side

Your dog can remain a valued part of your family throughout your pregnancy and beyond. If you have concerns about your pooch’s behaviour, then now’s the time to speak to your vet. To get started on dog training, get in touch with our Dog School.