A false pregnancy is a term used to describe a female dog showing signs of pregnancy, lactation and nursing, but never produces any puppies. This may be because there were no males to mate with, or she did not have any eggs fertilized. The symptoms of a false pregnancy in dogs usually occur after the estrus stage has finished, and in some cases, may last up to 2 or 3 months.
The exact cause of false pregnancies is not entirely understood. It has been determined that false pregnancies are usually caused by an imbalance in the hormones. Dogs that have ongoing false pregnancies usually tend to ovulate longer than normal. False pregnancy symptoms may begin 8-12 weeks after the estrus period. Some dogs may experience a false pregnancy after every heat term because they have such strong mothering instincts that trick her into thinking she is actually going to give birth.
Symptoms of false pregnancies in dogs
Behavioral changes – This is most noticeable right before she would be due to give birth. She may become needy or anxious, pant excessively or act as if she has abdominal pains. Any physical activity may be difficult for her to perform. The experience of false pregnancy can be very emotionally challenging for your dog.
Weight changes – This symptoms is actually pretty strange. Your dog’s body will actually begin to change as if she were pregnant. This means her weight will change, her mammary glands will swell, and she may even produce milk.
Change in appetite – When a dog is pregnant, her appetite changes drastically. The same thing will happen during a false pregnancy, and she may become extremely picky with her food or eat excessively, or barely eat anything.
Morning sickness – This is one of the more common signs during false pregnancy. Your dog may have bouts of nausea and vomiting. This symptoms also varies from dog to dog and may be more severe at different times.
Nesting – This is your dog’s maternal instincts kicking in. She may try to create a nest to keep her puppies in. She will likely have an attachment to certain objects such as toys, blankets or shoes. She will carry these objects around and mother them as if they were her puppies. She may become territorial and protective of these “puppies”, which can actually cause problems for some households.
Treatment of false pregnancies in dogs
Symptoms of false pregnancies usually go away on their own. This may take between two and three weeks. It is important to keep an eye on your dog during this time. If your dog’s behavior becomes aggressive, you may want to consider a sedative prescribed by your veterinarian until the symptoms subside.
If your dog’s mammary glands leak milk, you need to prevent her from encourage production by licking. Sometimes, vets recommend cutting back their food intake to reduce milk production. It is also not recommended that you encourage nesting or mothering of inanimate objects as well.
If you have no intention of breeding your dog, the best and most responsible thing to do is have her spayed. This means, if she can’t become pregnant, she can’t have a false pregnancy either. Having a dog spayed may also prevent any secondary illness and diseases in the future as well.
For more information about dog pregnancy, heat stages, a pregnancy calendar, information about spaying and more, visit www.dogpregnancyhelp.com