False Pregnancy and Pregnancy-Related Dying in Dogs

Dog Health

False pregnancy is surprisingly common among unneutered dogs. Moreover, it is so realistic that dog owners think that puppies are on the way. Although the symptoms of pseudopregnancy in dogs go away on their own, they are quite similar to the symptoms of several serious conditions. For this reason, it is necessary to consult a veterinarian when symptoms appear. In this article, you can find what is frequently asked about false pregnancy in dogs.

pregnant dog

What is False Pregnancy in Dogs?

False pregnancy occurs in dogs with hormonal changes after the estrus period. False pregnancy in dogs can cause a stressful situation for both the dog and the household. Female dogs begin to pretend to be pregnant, both behaviorally and physically. They even appear to be pregnant when viewed from the outside. This condition occurs approximately 4 to 9 weeks after estrus. It normally goes away on its own within 1 to 4 weeks. In some dogs, false pregnancy occurs after each heat period. However, there is no need to worry as the symptoms are very mild. Almost half of unneutered female dogs will experience at least one false pregnancy. This rate can reach up to 75% in Afghan, Beagle and Dachshund species. In addition, false pregnancy is also seen during the heat periods that occur until the false pregnancy is seen once.

scratching dog

False Pregnancy Symptoms

Dogs with false pregnancies act as if they are fully pregnant, both behaviorally and physically. At the beginning of the behaviors is trying to make a nest. He creates a space for himself by surrounding his bed with toys or other items in the house. Pregnancy-related mating movement is also seen here. It begins to scratch to provide a safe environment for its offspring to be born. In this period, among the symptoms that are frequently seen is choosing one of his toys and trying to be a mother to him. During this period, female dogs become more aggressive than normal. For this reason, it is necessary to keep other dogs, cats or children away from the dog experiencing false pregnancy, if any. There are also physical symptoms of false pregnancy. The dog’s belly swells just as if it were pregnant. In addition, enlargement of the mammary glands occurs and even milk begins to come. Some unlucky dogs may even feel contractions. It is difficult to distinguish other signs of pseudopregnancy in dogs from those of various diseases. Some other symptoms such as lethargy, restlessness, loss of appetite, vomiting and anxiety are among the false pregnancy symptoms. When these symptoms are seen, it is necessary to consult a veterinarian.

What Causes False Pregnancy?

False pregnancies are an unwanted side effect of dogs’ natural hormonal cycles. A healthy dog ​​experiences its first heat at approximately 6-12 months of age. However, while this is seen much earlier in small breeds, it can take up to 18 months in giant breeds. When dogs are not neutered or become pregnant, they go into heat for about 1 to 10 days every 6 months. After the heat period, the ovaries start producing hormones to maintain the pregnancy. Birth occurs approximately 9 weeks later. But when the dog is not pregnant, the hormones can mimic pregnancy. This condition usually goes away on its own within a few weeks. The cause of false pregnancy in dogs is still not fully known. An imbalance in progesterone and prolactin hormones is thought to cause this. In some dogs, conditions such as hypothyroidism and mastitis are also potential causes. Another theory of false pregnancy is that dogs live in wild herds in nature, with all females helping to feed the offspring born of the alpha pair. False pregnancies are thought to encourage the dog’s maternal instincts to act, causing the pup to look after the pups in the herd even if it’s not his own.

dog with flower collar

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Really Pregnant?

If the dog has recently mated and is showing signs of pregnancy, it’s disappointing that it’s a false pregnancy. When it occurs in dogs that have not recently mated, dog owners start to get confused. A veterinarian should be consulted immediately when the dog shows signs of pregnancy, whether pregnant or not. Blood and urine tests to be performed help to make the diagnosis. In addition, controls are made with advanced imaging methods such as ultrasound or x-ray to understand whether there is a pregnancy. For those who do not intend to breed their dog, false pregnancy is actually a sign. In the absence of such a thought, the female dog must be neutered.

Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?

The vast majority of false pregnancies go away on their own within a few weeks. However, in cases where the symptoms are severe or the dog does not mate, it is necessary to consult a veterinarian. Because although it disappears on its own, false pregnancy causes stress in some dogs and dog owners. When it is understood that the dog is not pregnant, it is also checked whether there is any other disease causing the symptoms. Tumors or infections in the passive thyroid gland, pituitary gland can cause this condition. One of the serious diseases that can be confused with false pregnancy is pyometra. It is a life-threatening uterine condition caused by the e coli bacteria in the stool. In such a case, the dog should be operated immediately and the uterus should be removed.

False Pregnancy Treatment

Since the symptoms disappear within a few weeks, there is no need for false pregnancy treatment in dogs. However, diuretics to reduce milk production or some tranquilizers for anxiety may be preferred. Some veterinarians can apply hormone therapies that regulate the endocrine balance to eliminate false pregnancy symptoms. However, these practices have some serious side effects. For this reason, it is preferred only in cases where the symptoms last much longer than normal or are very serious.

dog hugging a toy

How To Take Care Of The Dog?

The most difficult symptom in false pregnancy is milk production. Dogs lick their mammary glands to trigger milk production. It is possible to prevent this by wearing a special neck collar or t-shirt. While doing this, it is necessary not to rub the dog’s mammary glands too much. Apart from that, it is extremely important to understand how she feels. False pregnancy is a confusing and stressful time for dogs. You can take more care of him or leave him alone according to his wishes. Some dogs like to go out for more walks during this period. In addition, one of the common behaviors during the false pregnancy period is that the dog steals the things around to give it as a gift to its puppies. For this reason, it is necessary to keep important items away from where he can get them. Apart from these, the only thing to do is to wait for the false pregnancy to pass.

What Happens After False Pregnancy?

After a false pregnancy, dogs are almost the same as before in the short term. However, there are some complications that need attention. The two most common conditions after false pregnancy are infection in the mammary glands and surrounding skin tissue. If left untreated, it can cause the dog to have a severe illness. Therefore, if any redness or swelling is observed in or around the mammary glands, it is necessary to consult a veterinarian immediately. Once a false pregnancy has occurred, it is highly likely to recur in the future. Recurrent false pregnancies may be associated with pyometra, uterine infections or breast cancer. All of these conditions are conditions that can endanger the dog’s life and therefore must be treated. After the veterinarian performs the necessary tests, he/she determines the disease causing the recurrent false pregnancy and starts the treatment.

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