Sensing Pregnancy: Pregnancy and Your Pet
If you’re a pet owner, then you may have noticed your cat or dog acting a bit strange since you got pregnant. Perhaps you paid little attention to the changes or maybe you wondered if they could be related to your pregnancy. Well, if you were thinking the latter, then you would be correct!
Pregnant Belly Syndrome?
Pets seem to have an innate intuition when it comes to important events. An animals ability to sense changes in the weather, earthquakes and even volcano eruptions well before humans has long fascinated many. It has also been found that some dogs can detect certain cancers in humans as well as alert a person that they are about to have a seizure or even a heart attack. With such amazing abilities, it should really comes as no surprise that pets can know you’re pregnant before you even think about taking a pregnancy test.
Pregnancy, Your Dog, and that Sixth Sense
While there is no scientific proof that explains precisely why dogs, or any other animal for that matter, can pick up on pregnancy, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence. Just take a look at what the women in our Reader’s Write section have to say about their pets during pregnancy.
Although your dog may not actually understand that you are pregnant, they do notice any changes in your behavior, posture, routine and emotions. These changes may be so minor that you don’t even notice them yourself. But dogs are very much in tune with such differences and will pick up on them right away.
It has also been suggested that dogs may be so sensitive to pregnancy because of the variations in hormones and pheromones in pregnant women. Dogs have an amazing sense of smell that is vastly superior to humans. In fact, their ability to smell is one million times better than humans; when stretched out, their smelling receivers can cover an area of 130m2. In humans, our smelling receptors will only cover 3m2. This is why, before the pregnancy symptoms kick in, before the pregnancy tests are taken, your dog might start to act a bit…different.
Just how your dog will react to your pregnancy will vary according to your pet. Many women report that their once husband-loving pet has now abandoned that man for her and her pregnant belly. Often becoming more clingy and protective, dogs have been known to stay directly beside mom’s side, even waiting outside the shut bathroom door or next to the tub while you bathe and sleeping beside your bed every night, for the full nine months.
Other dogs may be more vocal in their protection, barking or growling at anyone who approaches the pregnant woman, sometimes even physically blocking people from the mom-to-be. And if your dog starts to take more notice of your belly, nosing it, smelling it or even trying to sit on it, don’t be surprised. She knows that’s where the change is.
While this extreme affection can be endearing (and likely a bit annoying at times), it can also go the other way. Some dogs may react to the pregnancy by becoming aloof and wanting nothing to do with you. They could become stressed and exhibit anxiety, such as pacing and excessive licking. Worse still, they may start to act up by relieving themselves indoors. If your dog’s behavior becomes particularly troublesome, make an appointment with the vet.
Your Cat Can be Loving
Cats have a bit of a bad rap. Not only can they carry toxoplasmosis, an infection that can be dangerous for pregnant women, they are also known for being standoffish, independent and often unaffectionate. Yet, as any cat owner can tell you, cats can be extremely loving and loyal to their owners. During pregnancy, this affection may become even more apparent.
Many cat owners have noted their cats behaving undeniably friendly once those early signs of pregnancy start to appear. Following you around, sleeping with you or even on you, insisting on sitting on your lap and even cuddling and licking your belly (maybe baby needs some grooming?) are all normal for behavior for cats when you’re pregnant.
However, like dogs, your cat can also turn their tail on you during your pregnancy. They might keep their distance from you, become fussy if you try to handle them or act out by not using their litter box (and that cat urine is not a pretty smell once it leaves the box). If you have more than one cat, you may even notice that one cat becomes more affectionate while the other wants nothing to do with you. Again, if you cat’s behavior becomes too severe, make an appointment with your vet.
Not Just the Indoor Pets
It isn’t just cats and dogs that take on a new personality when you’re pregnant, all animals may react differently to you. Or at least those that you have regular contact with (so don’t worry about squirrels wanting to crawl onto your lap). Women who live or work on farms have reported that their barnyard animals tend to follow them a bit more closely when they are out with them. In particular, horses seem to have a thing for following around pregnant women and nuzzling pregnant bellies. Looks like humans aren’t the only one that can’t resist touching a pregnant belly!