Dog Pregnancy Ultrasound | When Can Ultrasound Detect Pregnancy in Dogs? & How Effective is it for Puppy Counts?

By: Danielle Harris

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french bulldog pregnancy ultrasound

Dog Pregnancy Ultrasound | When Can Ultrasound Detect Pregnancy in Dogs? & How Effective is it for Puppy Counts?

Understanding Pregnancy Ultrasounds for Dogs

A pet’s pregnancy can be an exciting yet anxious time for pet owners. When your dog is expecting, it’s essential to monitor her health and that of her puppies. One of the most effective ways to do this is through a dog pregnancy ultrasound.

What is a Dog Pregnancy Ultrasound?

Similar to human ultrasounds, a dog pregnancy ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the inside of your dog’s body, specifically the uterus. These images can provide valuable information about the ongoing pregnancy.

Process of Dog Pregnancy Ultrasound

During an ultrasound, a probe is gently pressed against your dog’s belly, emitting sound waves. When these waves hit a dense object like a fetus, they bounce back, creating an image.

This process is painless and typically doesn’t cause any discomfort other than an uncomfortable chill from the isopropyl alcohol.

The female is sprayed with isopropyl alcohol and gel may also be used with the alcohol. Great contact of the probe to skin in imperative for great images.

The Importance of Pregnancy Ultrasounds for Dogs

Pregnancy ultrasounds serve a crucial role in ensuring the wellbeing of the pregnant dog and her unborn puppies.

Determining the Health of the Puppies

Dog pregnancy ultrasound
Vet Pregnancy Ultrasound –
Machine: MindRay

Ultrasounds can help veterinarians assess the health of the puppies. They can determine heart rates, measure growth, and detect abnormalities such as “water puppies”. They can check for gut motility and mobility. Which is if the gut is moving properly before c section.

Anasarca or “Water Puppies” refers to to puppies born with swelling and retention of water – severe edema.

Estimating Puppy Count

An accurate puppy count can prepare you for what to expect during delivery. However, it’s important to note that it’s harder to get an accurate count later in the pregnancy due to overlapping puppies. Also, we don’t rely on ultrasound for accurate puppy count at all. Our latest litter was estimated 4 puppies via ultrasound, but she had 6!

When I personally do ultrasounds, I tell clients, yep your dog is pregnant or no I don’t see anything. Sometimes I can see the sacs clearly but thats still not accurate as they can be hiding higher up in the rib cage.

Identifying Possible Complications

An ultrasound can identify potential problems early, such as ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or other complications that could jeopardize the mother or her pups’ health.

When to Perform a Dog Pregnancy Ultrasound

Early Detection

Pregnancy can be detected as early as 28 days from ovulation through an ultrasound, making it an excellent tool for early detection. We prefer to scan around days 30 -34, no later than 45.

Late Stage Monitoring

As the pregnancy progresses, ultrasounds can be used to monitor the puppies’ development and positioning ahead of birth.

What to Expect During the Ultrasound

Preparing Your Dog for the Ultrasound

Typically, no special preparation is needed. However, some vets may recommend fasting to get clear images. They may also ask that you don’t allow your female to urinate so they can locate the bladder as a starting point.

The Procedure

The procedure is simple and often takes about 15 to 30 minutes, or even less time.

The vet will apply gel, isopropyl alcohol, or a combination of both, gently hold the probe against your dog’s belly, moving it around to visualize different areas and organs. Your dog’s fur may be shaved in the area where the ultrasound will be conducted for better imaging.

Interpreting the Results

Healthy Pregnancy Indicators

Healthy fetuses will be seen as small, oval shapes surrounded by a dark fluid. A pulsing dot often represents the heartbeat.

Detecting Problems

If a problem is detected, your vet will guide you on the next steps, which could involve medication, further monitoring, or in rare cases, surgery.

Even simple things such as absorptions, which are no harm to the mother.

Absorptions happen early on in gestation. There are a variety of causes such as defects, infections, poor nutrition, or even stress.

Ultrasounds do NOT cause absorption.

99% of the time they even go unnoticed.

43 days | showing healthy puppy and absorption

Taking Care After an Ultrasound

Post-procedure, your dog can return to her normal activities. It’s essential to maintain a healthy diet and monitor for any changes in behavior. Always follow your vet’s advice and instructions.


A dog pregnancy ultrasound is an invaluable tool to ensure the health and well-being of your pregnant dog and her puppies. It provides essential insights that help you prepare for the new additions and manage any potential complications. Just like in human pregnancy, proper care, monitoring, and medical advice are vital for a successful dog pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an ultrasound harm my pregnant dog or her puppies?

No, ultrasounds are non-invasive and safe procedures that do not harm the mother or the puppies.

What is the best time to do a pregnancy ultrasound for my dog?

While pregnancy can be detected as early as 28 from ovulation, vets often recommend ultrasounds around day 30 for reliable results.

Can I tell the sex of the puppies through an ultrasound?

No, It’s challenging to determine the puppies’ gender through an ultrasound. The focus is typically on the puppies’ health and the pregnancy’s progress.

How accurate is the puppy count from an ultrasound?

Counting the exact number of puppies can be difficult, especially later in the pregnancy due to overlapping images. However, it gives a rough estimate to prepare for delivery. X ray is better for accurate

What should I do after the ultrasound?

After the ultrasound, just wipe her off with a paper towel or baby wipe, ensure your dog is comfortable and maintains a healthy diet. Always follow your vet’s advice for post-procedure care.

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