Can Dogs Smell My Unborn Baby?

Adrienne Farricelli

Whether dogs can smell your unborn baby remains a mystery, but most likely his nose "knows" something's going on.

We may lack substantial proof as to whether dogs can smell an unborn baby, but one thing is for sure: dogs are blessed with a superior sense of smell and their almighty nose seems to always "know" when there are changes. This is after all not surprising: we know that dogs can detect prostate cancer and thyroid cancer, and that there are trained dogs who are also capable of detecting low blood sugar in people suffering from diabetes. Not to mention dogs sniffing out explosives at airports, unwanted food and agricultural products at baggage claims and singling out suitcases carrying drugs.

A Time of Changes

OK, dogs may still be far from replacing an early pregnancy test, but we can't deny the fact that pregnancy comes with many changes in the human body. First off, consider the fact that dogs are very in tune with their owners. This is not old news and there are even studies demonstrating how dogs are blessed with an uncanny ability to recognize emotions in their humans by gathering information from their different senses.

On top of this, consider the many hormonal changes taking place during pregnancy. When women become pregnant, they experience dramatic increases in their estrogen and progesterone levels, the main hormones associated with pregnancy. But wait, there is more! Pregnant women also go through increases of other hormones as well such as the hormone relaxin, prolactin and oxytocin.

Blessed with powerful sniffers estimated to be 1,000 to 10,000 times better than a humans', it wouldn't be surprising if dogs can detect all these massive changes impacting a woman's body chemistry.

As the pregnancy advances, it's also inevitable for pregnant women to make changes to their posture. Generally, beginning from the second trimester, postural adjustments are made to accommodate the growing baby. The back is curved more and the shoulders lean back to make up for shift of the center of gravity. Dogs are surely quick to detect these changes.

While studies on whether dogs can detect pregnancy are lacking, there is ample of anecdotal evidence. Countless dog owners could swear their dogs have a sixth sense and were the first to notice something was going on.

Can Dogs Smell My Unborn Baby?

There are good chances that your dog may detect all the massive changes involving your body's chemistry, but what about specifically smelling your unborn baby? Well, there may be chances he can, but indirectly.

Science writer and author of the book "Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy" Jena Pincott explains that during pregnancy, your body odor becomes different, causing you to smell a bit like your unborn baby. That's because babies inherits half of their immune systems (MHC) from their dad,causing your body odor to eventually contain his odorants too. Fascinating stuff!

On top of having a superior sense of smell, dogs are also blessed with a better sense of hearing. It is estimated that dogs hear four times farther away than humans can, which leads us to the next question, can dogs sense a fetal heartbeat? Most likely yes, as the pregnancy advances and the heartbeat becomes easier to detect. After all, if your partner or child can hear it by placing an ear on your belly, why can't Fido?