What is a false pregnancy or pseudo-pregnancy?
Dogs that have not been castrated can become false pregnant some time after they were in heat. Even though the dog has not become pregnant during heat, she thinks that she is pregnant anyway. The hormones are to blame, which will turn your dog's life upside down.
How do I recognize a false pregnancy?
If you have an uncastrated female dog, you should pay attention to mental and physical behavioural problems in the four to nine weeks after she is in heat. Especially smaller dog breeds, such as dachshunds, have a stronger tendency to a false pregnancy.
Every dog is an individual, therefore different symptoms can appear during the false pregnancy. The following characteristics indicate a false pregnancy:
- Swollen udders that produce fluid (pseudolactation)
- Aggressive or depressive behaviour
- Nest-building behaviour: "mothering" and defending toys or objects
- Pronounced attachment, e.g. increased "need for cuddling"
What is the cause of a false pregnancy?
As described above, hormones are the cause of such a false pregnancy. When the dog's body detects that she is not pregnant, the progesterone levels drop sharply. Progesterone is a female sex hormone that helps maintain pregnancy. Therefore, if the progesterone level drops very quickly, this can simulate a birth for the body. The simulated birth then stimulates an increase in the hormone prolactin, which is responsible for the symptoms of a false pregnancy, such as the production of fluid. The development of a false pregnancy therefore depends on how much the hormone progesterone decreases.
How long does a dog remain a false pregnant?
This question cannot be answered exactly. However, one should expect 10 to 30 days for the symptoms to subside. A false pregnancy does not necessarily occur again after each heat. However, one can expect that the symptoms are always similarly pronounced.
Does my dog have to go to the vet?
Not necessarily. However, if the symptoms are very pronounced, a visit to the vet is definitely advisable.
Can a false pregnancy be diagnosed?
Usually a diagnosis is made by observing the behaviour of the dog. The veterinarian will usually ask about the dog's behavior and check for physical symptoms. Additionally, the examination will of course rule out the possibility that the dog is not actually pregnant.
How can I treat the apparent pregnancy of my dog?
Usually, no proper treatment is given, as the symptoms subside after a few weeks. If the symptoms are very mild, some dog owners may not even notice their dog's false pregnancy.
However, if the dog shows very strong symptoms, such as becoming very aggressive towards the owner, the veterinarian may consider treatment appropriate. The symptoms of a false pregnancy can be reduced by medication. For example, a prolactin inhibitor may reduce the release of the hormone prolactin. However, these medications will only be used if a pregnancy can be completely ruled out.
Castration of the dog during the false pregnancy is not a method of treatment. Castration could cause even more severe symptoms at this point. However, under certain circumstances, castration can be a sensible way of bowing afterwards. You should discuss this with your vet.
How can I make the false pregnancy of my dog more pleasant?
Be especially sensitive and show a lot of understanding. The best way to distract your dog is to take her for nice walks. Note, however, that your dog may be less lively due to the false pregnancy.
It's best to take your dog's toys away for the time being, so she doesn't have the opportunity to nest and mother her toys.
During the time of the false pregnancy, also pay attention to your dog's teats. However, avoid any massages or intensive stroking, in order not to stimulate the milk production further. Also make sure that the mammary gland is reduced in size again after the end of the false pregnancy and that it does not become inflamed. If the bitch's teats are red and warm, this may indicate an inflammation which must be treated with antibiotics.
In summary, it can be said that the false pregnancy in a bitch is very normal and not of pathological origin. However, in this period you should