False Pregnancy in Dogs
Definition of False Pregnancy
False pregnancy, also called pseudopregnancy, is common in intact female dogs. It usually occurs somewhere between 6 and 12 weeks after a bitch goes through her normal heat cycle and is caused by an exaggerated response to normal hormonal changes, including elevated levels of the hormone progesterone. During this time, females can develop many of the signs of pregnancy, even if they aren’t pregnant and haven’t even been bred. Signs of false pregnancies include appetite fluxuations, restlessness, whining, depression, anxiety and aggression. Many bitches engage in maternal behaviors, such as digging, nesting and mothering of stuffed toys, and some actually produce milk. These signs can be so convincing that even experienced breeders are fooled. Fortunately, with the help of modern technology, false pregnancies are easy to diagnosis. They usually don’t require treatment and go away on their own.
The clinical signs of pseudopregnancy range from subtle to extreme. In some cases, they are so convincing that even experienced breeders are confident that a litter is coming. Signs include behavioral changes (anorexia or appetite fluxuations, excessive vocalization, whining, restlessness, signs of aggression, depression, or anxiety), maternal behaviors (nesting, digging, mothering or “adopting” of toys, stuffed animals or other inanimate objects), mammary problems (engorgement, lactation, licking of the mammary glands/self-nursing), vomiting and abdominal distention.There is
It is not difficult to diagnose false pregnancy in dogs. If the animal went through a heat cycle 6 to 12 weeks before the onset of clinical signs of pregnancy, whether or not she was known to be bred during that time, a veterinarian will take a thorough history of her recent physical and behavioral conduct and will perform a complete physical examination. Radiographs and ultrasound can be used to conclusively confirm the presence or
If treatment is appropriate, a veterinarian can determine what steps should be taken. Some owners apply hot or cold-packs to swollen mammary glands, but experts discourage taking any steps that stimulate lactation and so these treatments are not recommended. Owners may use an Elizabethan (cone) collar and remove any inanimate puppy-substitutes that the bitch is hoarding to try and hasten resolution of the false pregnancy. In more severe cases, veterinarians may recommend removing food and