February 20 is National Love Your Pet Day! And who among us doesn’t love your pet? We chose today to dive into the question of whether your pets, namely dogs and cats, actually know that you’re pregnant . . . maybe even before you do.
Okay, let’s back up a little bit. I don’t think that our pets actually know that you are pregnant or perhaps what that really even means, but they do know that something is different about you.
Most pet owners keep pets because they love the companionship that cats and dogs, or other animals, can give. These animals become a treasured part of the family. We love them and they in turn love us back. It starts out as dependence – they need us for food, water, shelter, etc. – but most of them come to love their humans deeply, as well. Many of them are protective.
Cats and dogs are also very intuitive. They can sense subtle changes that sometimes we don’t even know. For instance, my cat seems to always know when I’m about to catch a cold or a virus. She cuddles up right by me and won’t leave my side. Sure enough, by the next day, I’m sneezing away, or worse yet, vomiting. She knew. They say that some animals can sense when their owner has cancer, specifically skin cancer. It only makes sense that they would also sense when your body has changed due to pregnancy.
According to most animal behavior specialists, this ability actually comes from the animal’s excellent sense of smell. The hormone levels of women change almost immediately once a woman becomes pregnant. They begin producing elevated levels of estrogen, progesterone and chorionic gonadotropin. Our senses, not as sensitive as dogs and cats, cannot sense or smell these hormone changes, but many people believe that our pets can. Perhaps even before a pregnancy test would detect them.
Although it seems likely that dogs and cats really can sense a new pregnancy, they don’t all react in the same ways. A dog may become protective and not let anyone near you. Or, quite the opposite, a dog that has always been mild and good natured, may growl at you when you arrive home. A highly independent cat, may become clingy. They probably are confused and don’t understand why they feel differently about you, but they know there is something different.
The most important thing to do, regardless of how your pet reacts, is to just keep loving them and keep as much of your regular activities with them as you can. You’ll reassure your pets that they’re still part of the family and that they’re not going to be abandoned or go hungry. But, if you’re like me, I won’t really need to tell you that. You’ll have no problem loving on your pets no matter what! And most likely, you’ll have a fierce protector for the new little life that will soon be joining your family.
Happy National Love Your Pet Day!
My fur babies keep a watchful eye on my human babies! Love them all!