Baby on the Way
Can a dog sense when a woman is about to go into labor?
Without a doubt, dogs can tell when a woman is pregnant, partly because they can smell changes in the woman's body as her hormones shift. Later in pregnancy, a dog will sense changes in the way a woman moves, as well as changes in her emotions.
If a dog is around when the woman's water breaks, it will be able to smell the amniotic fluid. If a dog is present when a woman is in labor, it will surely be aware of whatever she's doing and saying.
Those are all fairly obvious. But will a dog know when labor is about to start, before it actually does? Many women say their dog could tell. Visit the comments section on websites for expectant moms, and you'll see plenty of testimonials about how Buster got protective or anxious hours before his mistress went into labor.
The answer may simply be that because dogs live so closely with their humans, a dog can sense emotional changes when a woman's labor is about to start. Also, dogs, with their keen attention to visual clues, may sense subtle physical movements that the woman may not be aware of.
Some people suspect that the anecdotes have more to do with a woman recalling what happened shortly before she went into labor, much as we recall where we were or what was happening when we learned dramatic news.
But who knows? Some dogs can tell when a person with diabetes is about to have a serious drop in blood sugar, or when a person is about to have a seizure. Is it far-fetched to think there might be some small physical change in a woman hours before labor beings, something that humans can't detect but dogs can?
- "Bed Bug Detecting Dogs – What You Should Know." BedBugs.net, Aug. 13, 2012. (Aug. 13, 2014) http://bedbugs.net/bed-bug-detecting-dogs/
- Buckley, Cara. "Doubts Rise on Bedbug-Sniffing Dogs." The New York Times. Nov. 11, 2010. (Aug. 8, 2014) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/12/nyregion/12bedbugs.html?pagewanted=all
- "Canine Scent Detection." BedBugCentral. (Aug. 8, 2014) http://www.bedbugcentral.com/bed-bug-dogs
- Coren, Stanley. "A Honey of a Skill: Dogs That Detect Diseased Bee Colonies." Psychology Today. June 28, 2010. (Aug. 8, 2014) http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/201006/honey-skill-dogs-detect-diseased-bee-colonies
- Coren, Stanley. "Can dogs predict earthquakes?" Psychology Today. May 9, 2012. (Aug. 8, 2014) http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/201205/can-dogs-predict-earthquakes
- "Dogs 'Sniff Out Prostate Cancer With 98 Percent Accuracy,' Study Finds." Medical News Today. May 19, 2014. (Aug. 8, 2014) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/277012.php
- "Dogs That Changed the World – Medical Dogs." Nature. PBS.org. (Aug. 11, 2014) http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/dogs-that-changed-the-world/medical-dogs/1277/
- Doucleff, Michaeleen. "How Dogs Read Our Moods: Emotion Detector Found In Fido's Brain." National Public Radio. (Aug. 12, 2014) http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/02/21/280640267/how-dogs-read-our-moods-emotion-detector-found-in-fidos-brain
- Ehlers, Matt. "Look Out Termites; Dogs Have Your Scent." Raleigh News & Observer. April 26, 2010. (Aug. 7, 2014) http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/04/26/454195/look-out-termites-dogs-have-your.html
- "FAQ." Dogs4Diabetics, Inc. (Aug. 12, 2014) http://www.dogs4diabetics.com/about-us/faq/
- "Finding too-small-to=see bedbugs no problem for these sniffers, UF researchers say." University of Florida News. May 2, 2007. (Aug. 6, 2014) http://news.ufl.edu/archive/2007/05/finding-too-small-to-see-bedbugs-no-problem-for-these-sniffers-uf-researchers-say.html
- Greco, Ralph Jr. "Is bad weather coming? Ask Your Dog." Cesar'sWay. (Aug. 5, 2014) http://www.cesarsway.com/dog-behavior/dog-anxiety/Is-Bad-Weather-Coming-Ask-Your-Dog
- Green, Penelope. "A New Breed of Guard Dog Attacks Bedbugs." The New York Times. March 10, 2010. (Aug. 7, 2014)http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/11/garden/11bedbug.html?pagewanted=all
- Hickman, Gayle. "How Do Dogs Smell Fear? (You Might Be Surprised)" PetAdviser. Nov. 21, 2011. (Aug. 7, 2014) http://www.petsadviser.com/behaviors/how-do-dogs-smell-fear-myth/
- Horowitz, Alexandra. Inside of a Dog. Scribner, New York: 2009.
- "How dogs became man's best friend." The Economist. Feb. 19, 2004. (Aug. 13, 2014) http://www.economist.com/node/2441795
- "How Dogs Sense Emotions." DogHealth. (Aug. 12, 2014) http://www.doghealth.com/how-and-why/how-dogs-sense-emotions
- Johnson, Jenna. "Maryland Dog Sniffs Out Diseased Bee Colonies." The Washington Post. March 5, 2009. (Aug. 6, 2014) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/03/AR2009030304296.html
- Lovgren, Stefan. "Dogs Smell Cancer in Patients' Breath, Study Shows." National Geographic News. Jan. 12, 2006. (Aug. 6, 2014) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/01/0112_060112_dog_cancer.html
- Masson, Jeffrey Moussaieff. Dogs Never Lie About Love. Crown Publishers, New York. 1997.
- "Medical Detection Dogs: How They Could Save Our Lives in a Sniff. Medical News Today. Nov 20, 2013. (Aug. 8, 2014) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269099.php
- Miller, Ron. "How Dogs React to Human Pregnancy." The Dogington Post. Aug. 9, 2012. (Aug. 9, 2014) http://www.dogingtonpost.com/how-dogs-react-to-human-pregnancy/
- Mott, Maryann. "Can Animals Sense Earthquakes?" National Geographic News. Nov. 11, 2003. (Aug. 6, 2014) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/11/1111_031111_earthquakeanimals_2.html
- Roper, Kelly. "Dog Behavior and Human Pregnancy." Lovetoknow Dogs. (Aug. 12, 2014) http://dogs.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Dog_Behavior_and_Human_Pregnancy
- "Seizure Alert/Response Dogs." Service Dog Central. http://www.servicedogcentral.org/content/node/491 (Aug. 12 2014)
- Shyrock, Jennifer. "Labor Day Tips for You and Your Canine Buddy." Pregnancy.org. (Aug. 6, 2014) http://www.pregnancy.org/article/labor-day-tips-you-and-your-canine-buddy
- Spake, Amanda. "Could a Dog Save Your Life?" Diabetes Forecast. March 2008. (Aug. 11, 2014) http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2008/mar/could-a-dog-save-your-life.html
- Stromberg, Joseph. "Your Dog Can Tell From Your Voice If You're Happy or Sad." Feb. 20, 2014. (Aug. 11, 2014) Smithsonian. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/your-dog-can-tell-from-your-voice-if-youre-happy-or-sad-180949807/?no-ist
- "Where's Roscoe. Meet Roscoe the Bed Bug Dog – Bell Environmental's Lead Canine Inspector." Bell Environmental. (Aug. 7, 2014) http://bell-environmental.com/wheres-roscoe/meet-roscoe/
- Yong, Ed. "Origin of Domestic Dogs." The Scientist Magazine. Nov. 14, 2013. (Aug. 7, 2014) http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/38279/title/Origin-of-Domestic-Dogs/
To a human it's unimaginable — sniffing another's derriere. But to our canine companions, it's totally normal. But why? Why?