When and where should I get my dog scanned for pregnancy?


When and where should I get my dog scanned for pregnancy?

Getting your dog scanned for pregnancy with ultrasound is very reliable and accurate, provided it is performed:

  • At the right time
  • By a trained, experienced professional
  • With the right equipment

Each of these points is discussed in turn below.


The right time: When should I get my dog scanned?

The earliest you should book an appointment with a mobile pregnancy scanner is when your dog would be at 30 days gestation. If you have been performing progesterone testing, you may feel very confident about how many days pregnant your animal should be. If you are going by number of days post-mating and your bitch has had multiple matings, remember to always use the latest (most recent) date. Conception does not necessarily occur on the day of mating or artificial insemination, which is why it is really important not to go by the first mating – you could end up overestimating her current gestation by up to a week!

Having your bitch scanned too early is problematic because:

    • A reputable professional should only confirm pregnancy to you by assessing the viability of the unborn puppies. This is done not by looking for gestation sacs but by confirming movement and, most importantly, heartbeats. Scanning before 30 days makes visualising the foetal heart almost impossible on most portable ultrasound machines.
    • Very early pregnancies are easily resorbed, so knowing that your bitch is pregnant at 20 days would not necessarily mean she still would be at 30 days.

Subsequently, you will waste your money, because you will likely require a re-scan.

Be wary of anybody offering you a scanning service prior to 30 days. It is highly likely that they have not been properly trained, are unscrupulous and simply want to win your business in the short term at any cost, or both. Even highly experienced scanners who are confident identifying early pregnancies (26 days+) in their own bitches are very unlikely to offer this as a service to others, due to the points highlighted above. The very high risk of a false positive or false negative is not worth them risking their reputation over.

Below: The tiny flicker of foetal heartbeats can be appreciated even as early as 30 days gestation in a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel.


What do you want from a dog pregnancy scan?

Before you book a scan, it is worth thinking about what information you hope to get from it.

  • Do you want pregnancy confirmation as early as possible? If so, time your bitch’s scan around the 30 day mark.


  • Do you want to know how many puppies she is having? Having your pet scanned between 30 – 35 days is a good time for estimating numbers, but remember this is only an estimate. Number counting with ultrasound is not accurate. Scans are performed in real-time I it’s not a snap-shot of the abdomen like with x-ray – so one sac can easily be counted twice, and sacs can be hidden behind one another. Experienced scanners will be confident in giving you a range: for example, “she is having more than 5,” or “I’ve seen 4; so she is having at least 4.”


  • Do you want cute images and videos of the unborn puppies? If you want beautiful images you can treasure or share on social media, hold off on booking your scan. If you wait until around 40 days, the puppies will be a lot more developed. This not only yields more interesting images, but also gives you peace of mind that the pregnancy is progressing normally.


A word of caution: Remember, though, if your bitch is acting unwell, never call a pregnancy scanner – call your vet. Pyometra is a dangerous possibility in any unspayed bitch, and the difference between life and death can be minutes. Do not delay in getting her the veterinary attention that she needs.


Where should I get my dog scanned for pregnancy?

There didn’t used to be much choice about where to go to get a scan – the answer would have been “the nearest veterinarian with an ultrasound scanner.” Now, however, not only do far more veterinary practices have their own machines, but so do non-vets. You must always be cautious when using a non-veterinarian to perform a scan because, while pregnancy is not an illness or a disease, a scan can uncover unexpected surprises that need urgent veterinary attention. If you do not make sure you are using somebody who is trained and experienced enough to recognise that and refer appropriately, you are putting your animal’s life at risk.

For this reason, we always recommend that you use an Animal Ultrasound Association accredited scanner, all of whom have safe, legal and professional-grade scanning equipment, training and experience. You can find the nearest person to you by searching for your postcode in our directory here. If you cannot find anybody close enough to you, give us a call – we have a network of hundreds of trained professionals around the UK that we can connect you with. Expert dog pregnancy scanners like Canine Scanning South West in Bristol, Essex Canine Pregnancy Scanning, Karen’s canine scanning and microchipping in Wigan, PetScan Lanarkshire  and Expecting Paws in Newark are just a few of our members.

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