Aug. 23.2021

How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Pregnant or Having a False Pregnancy: Possible Symptoms

False Pregnancy

How can I tell if my dog is pregnant or having a false pregnancy? The most reliable way to do this is to contact your veterinarian. They would examine your dog, take the necessary tests, and based on the results, only the vet can determine what is happening with your dog. On the first side, it may seem that a false pregnancy does not threaten your pet. However, it is not true. During pregnancy, the animal’s body changes and this process is not always painless for the dog. Therefore, instead of Googling “can a dog have a false pregnancy”, it is better to compare events to confirm or deny pregnancy and consult a specialist. We will definitely tell you what it is, possible causes, and symptoms.

What Is a False Pregnancy in Dogs?

A phantom pregnancy in dogs is a condition in which a non-pregnant dog shows signs of pregnancy. When it undergoes hormonal changes, it psychologically prepares to become a mother, the body also shows signs of pregnancy. In other words, the dog thinks, looks like, and feels pregnant. Most often this happens due to hormonal disruption. However, the opinions of scientists on this matter were divided. Some believe hormonal disruptions are dangerous and need treatment, while others consider it a normal part of the cycle. Canine false pregnancy is common in unsterilized dogs. In the theory, any female dog can be susceptible: giving birth or not participating in mating. But some dogs are more likely to experience this condition. Most often these are representatives of small breeds, for example, Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, and others. However, this does not mean that the German Shepherd or Doberman cannot face such a problem.

What Causes False Pregnancy in Dogs?

With the syndrome of false pregnancy, the same hormonal changes occur in the body of a non-pregnant bitch as in a pregnant one. This most often occurs after ovulation. All healthy bitches reach the diestrus phase, which is dominated by progesterone and continues until the estrus phase. This syndrome begins to manifest itself after a decrease in the concentration of progesterone in the serum of the bitch. However, the determination of the concentration of progesterone in the blood does not allow diagnosing pregnancy due to the similarity of physiology. The syndrome of false pregnancy can be considered as an enhanced response of the body to the normal physiological changes occurring in it at this time. The decrease in progesterone, in turn, stimulates the synthesis and secretion of prolactin. Some female dogs are more sensitive to these hormonal changes than others, resulting in the development of false pregnancy syndrome. Can there be false pregnancy in dogs after spaying? It is possible, especially after spaying a pet while it is in heat. So how long does a false pregnancy last in dogs? It usually lasts no more than a week. The body understands that pregnancy has not occurred and the symptoms disappear. Also, false pregnancy can occur after surgery of removing the uterus and ovaries. How do you think can stress cause false pregnancy symptoms? Let’s think logically. Can hormonal imbalance be caused by stress? Of course yes. Therefore, the symptoms of false pregnancy can occur against a background of stress.

Symptoms of False Pregnancy in Dogs

Symptoms of False Pregnancy in Dogs
  • False pregnancy syndrome can be mild, including only a change in appetite, weight, or abdominal gain. Sometimes this condition is accompanied by signs that could indicate:
  • the approach to childbirth;
  • anxiety;
  • decreased activity;
  • refusal to eat;
  • vomit;
  • swelling of the mammary glands.

Sometimes the symptoms are more severe. For example, a female dog may begin to lactate, or it has contractions of the abdominal wall, as in labor pains. Sometimes the dog may start to care about toys like puppies. Some dogs show maternal aggression. They would growl warningly, but would not bite while the toys (in their opinion, puppies) are with them.

Dog False Pregnancy: Treatment

With mild symptoms, when the change in the condition is insignificant, a drug intervention is most often not required. The problem is solved by diet and physical activity. However, this should only be done if you are sure that there is no pregnancy. You can adjust the diet by 20-50 %, reduce the amount of protein in it. Moreover, for dogs of those breeds that are prone to false pregnancy, it is better to put on a diet during estrus, and not at the first symptoms. You should also walk the dog more actively, play more and encourage it to be active. Sometimes it is advised to reduce the rate of water. But in the summer, you should not take such risks. If the dog is on dry food, you can transfer it to wet canned food to reduce the amount of water consumed and not provoke thirst. The purpose of these activities is to stop milk production. Also, take toys and other objects to which the dog shows tenderness. But if the dog is already showing maternal instinct, the disappeared “puppy” traumatizes it. Be prepared to compensate it with your care and attention. But to scold and punish the dog for the maternal instinct is not worth it. It acts as nature tells it to. Better to distract your pet with physical activity and games. If the symptoms are more severe, it is best to seek help from your veterinarian.

Be alert to any changes in your dog’s behavior. If you cannot establish the cause or are not 100% sure, it is best to contact a specialist. Has your dog ever had a false pregnancy? Share in the comments. See you soon on the pages of our blog!

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