In case you didn't know, dogs are naturally intuitive. They can sense danger before it happens, sniff things out that a human nose can't detect, and instinctively know when you're down and out. And even the kindest, most even-tempered dog might show some signs of stress when you've got a baby on the way. So, if you're expecting, it's worth your time to pay close attention to the signs your dog has anxiety about your pregnancy, so you help them through this transitional period, too.
While some dogs are naturally anxious, others might only experience anxiety during times of change. Jennifer Shryock, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, tells lifestyle website LoveToKnow that dogs "recognize subtle, and not so subtle, changes a woman's body goes through during pregnancy." In other words, Fido might react to, say, a change in your scent and shape. And when your body chemistry reacts with hormonal changes, your dog can detect the shift.
Likewise, once you start to show, your dog might react by either avoiding you or, just the opposite, wanting extra snuggle time and more of your attention. It may not always be so obvious, but here are some of the signs your pup is feeling anxious about your pregnancy and their future human sibling:
They No Longer Want To Be Near You
If, according to Woman's Day, your dog seems out of sorts, pay attention. There's a lot they're trying to tell you about your pregnancy — or about life in general — if you're watching and listening.
For example, if a dog who is normally always by your side is suddenly avoiding you, they might be adjusting to your pregnancy. Whether it's in response to your change in scent or shape, acknowledge your dog's apprehension and give them a little more attention.
They Chew The Baby's Things
A 2014 study revealed that dogs do, indeed, experience feelings of jealousy and may show it by growling, invading personal space when you're showing affection to someone else, or shoving someone out of their way to get to you. A dog might also chew up items intended for your baby, according to LoveToKnow.
The dog website Rover suggests letting your dog sniff items scented with baby powder or lotion, so they become accustomed to your future baby's smell before they arrive.
They Urinate In Places They Shouldn't
According to the Humane Society of the United States, if your dog is spayed or neutered and generally well-trained to go outdoors, but begins going to the bathroom inside the house, first rule out something medical (such as an infection). If anxiety over your pregnancy has triggered this behavior, it's important to resolve the conflict. One way is by speaking with your veterinarian about "short course of anti-anxiety medication." Never punish them after the event has occurred, either, as it may lead to further anxiety and confusion.
They Experience A Sudden Mood Change
A sudden mood change in anyone, pet or human, can be cause for concern. So if your pup is suddenly panicked, suffering avoidance issues, or becomes aggressive, VCA Hospitals suggests putting them in a quiet place and, without being overly comforting, going through your usual series of commands with petting or treats as a reward. This helps them find a sense of normalcy again and, as a result, may ease their anxiety.
They Shed More Than Usual
Dogs shedding is pretty typical, but if you're noticing there's a lot more of it than usual, it could be a sign of anxiety. Dr. Patty Khuly tells The Miami Herald to clip your dog's hair a little shorter, and bathe and brush them regularly to help minimize the shedding.
They Show Signs Of Nervous Energy
More obvious signs of anxiety might be when your dog won't stop pacing, they're panting even when it's cool, or they won't stop licking their lips. Dr. Karen Becker of Healthy Pets adds that stress may cause their breathing pattern to be shorter and faster, too.
You can't move your pregnancy along any fast, but by knowing the signs of your dog's anxiety you can at least provide the comfort your companion is looking for.