False Pregnancy Dog Issues: The Silent, Deadly and Normal Female Dog Killer

8 mins read

False pregnancy dog issues can not only be annoying, but they are very dangerous and can cause major problem- even death.

False Pregnancy Dog

If you’re a dog owner, then you may have heard of false pregnancy. This is a condition that can occur in female dogs who have not been spayed. False pregnancy can cause the dog to exhibit many of the same symptoms as pregnant dogs, including lactation and nesting behavior. In this blog post, we will discuss what causes false pregnancy in dogs, how to spot the symptoms, and how to treat it.

SHOULD YOU SPAY YOUR DOG?

FALSE PREGNANCY DOG ISSUES: WHAT IS A FALSE PREGNANCY?

False Pregnancy Dog

False pregnancies occur in female dogs who have not been spayed (intact female dog). (READ MORE)This is because they still have their ovaries and uterus, which can produce eggs and allow for implantation. However, in a false pregnancy, the eggs are not fertilized and there is no fetus present.

Despite this, the dog’s body will go through many of the same changes as if she were pregnant. This is because the hormones associated with pregnancy (estrogen and progesterone) are still present in her system. These hormones can cause the dog to exhibit many of the same symptoms as a pregnant dog, even though she is not actually carrying puppies.

PREGNANCY IN DOGS

False Pregnancy Dog

Most female dogs should not get pregnant, despite producing puppies being a natural and healthy thing for a female dog.

Backyard breeding of an unspayed female dog who has not been health tested for genetic issues like hips, heart, eyes, or more can cause puppies to be born with congenital defects. These defects can range from mild (like a cleft palate) to severe (like heart abnormalities). They can also be expensive to treat and cause short life spans.

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Additionally, pregnancy and childbirth are risky for the mother dog. Some risks include infection, uterine rupture, retained placenta, and more. For these reasons, it is best to spay your female dog before she comes into heat (usually around six months of age but varies by breed as large breed dogs should not be spayed until age 24 months). This will also help to prevent false pregnancy.

UNSPAYED DOGS AND RISKS

False Pregnancy Dog

Unspayed female dogs face risks that other female dogs do not face such as pyometra, mastitis, and mammary cancer. (LEARN MORE ABOUT SPAYS HERE)

PYOMETRA

Female dogs that are not spayed have a high risk of developing pyometra, which is an infection of the uterus. This can be a life-threatening condition for dogs and often requires emergency surgery to remove the infected uterus.

MASTITIS

Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary glands that can occur during false pregnancy or lactation. This can cause the dog to produce milk even if she is not pregnant, and can be very painful for her. If left untreated, mastitis can lead to sepsis (a potentially fatal condition caused by infection).

BREAST CANCER

Unspayed female dogs also have an increased risk of developing mammary gland tumors, which is Cancer of the mammary gland. This is a type of cancer that affects the mammary glands and can be fatal if left untreated. Pet owners who notice mammary gland enlargement should take note of the physical signs, their dog’s symptoms, and take a vet visit for a blood test and medical treatment.

SYMPTOMS OF FALSE PREGNANCY IN DOGS

False Pregnancy Dog

False pregnancy can cause the dog to exhibit many of the same symptoms as dogs who are experiencing an actual, true pregnancy. Signs of false pregnancy can vary from dog to dog.

False pregnancy symptoms can include, but are not limited to:

  1. Nesting behavior (preparing a “nest” for her puppies)
  2. Trying to carry around soft toys
  3. Increased appetite
  4. Lactation (milk production)
  5. Abdominal enlargement
  6. Mothering behavior towards other animals or inanimate objects
  7. Mammary glands swollen
  8. Hormonal changes
  9. Behavioral changes
  10. Vaginal discharge
  11. Some dogs lose weight and some experience weight gain

In mild cases of false pregnancy, a dog may only exhibit one or two of these symptoms. In more severe cases, a dog may exhibit most or all of these symptoms. If your dog is showing any signs of false pregnancy, it is best to take her to the vet for an examination.

Additional supportive exercise, enrichment, engaging toys and activities will help to keep your dog’s mind off of their hormone surge. Here are some ideas:

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CORRELATION BETWEEN A FALSE PREGNANCY AND HEAT CYCLE

False Pregnancy Dog

A heat cycle is when a female dog is in “heat” or able to mate and produce puppies. The average heat cycle lasts about three weeks, with the first week being the time when the female is most fertile. Having an estrus cycle is a normal part of a female dog’s life. Some dogs will go into heat every few months- while most is breed dependent.

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A false pregnancy can occur any time after a heat cycle has ended. This means that a false pregnancy can happen even if the dog was not actually mated during her heat cycle.

Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to false pregnancy than others. These include:

  1. Dogs who have had a previous false pregnancy
  2. Small breed dogs
  3. Dogs who have not been spayed (SPAY INFO)
  4. Dogs with irregular heat cycles
  5. Dogs who have experienced a traumatic event (such as the loss of a litter of puppies) Dogs who have been bred multiple times

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WILL A PSEUDO PREGNANCY IN DOGS CAUSE THEM TO PRODUCE MILK?

Producing milk seems like an unusual thing when your pup is not actually pregnant. However, producing milk is actually a somewhat common on the list of clinical signs of a false pregnancy.

WHAT NOT TO DO IF YOUR DOG IS PRODUCING MILK

Although it is common knowledge that ‘milking’ a lactating breast will cause the hormones to prepare more milk, it is not recommended to ‘leave the milk’ inside of the dogs.

MAMMARY GLAND DEVELOPMENT

During puberty of a pregnant dog, the hormone levels are rapidly changing, causing an increase in estrogen and progesterone. These high hormone levels stimulate the development of milk-producing cells in the mammary glands.

Many people simply do nothing to help their pup experience these hormone changes- and that CAN be okay. However, there are also risks involved with doing nothing to get the milk out of the mammary gland.

MASTITIS RISKS

During a false pregnancy, the hormonal changes are already present and too much milk could cause the dog’s mammary glands to become engorged, which could lead to mastitis. If your dog is lactating, it is best to express only enough milk to relieve the discomfort and then discontinue milking.

So, yes, by milking your dog, you will create more milk production. But, in doing so for a few weeks you will also be preventing swollen mammary glands and infection which can be life threatening to a dog producing milk.

By gradually ‘weaning’ the milking, you will also help to ‘dry up’ the milk production by decreasing the amount of times your dog’s mammary glands are stimulated.

PYOMETRA

Pyometra is a uterine infection that can occur in dogs who have not been spayed. This infection can happen at any age but is most common in older, unspayed female dogs.

A dog with pyometra will often show signs of a false pregnancy, including:

  1. Abdominal enlargement
  2. Increased appetite
  3. Increased urination
  4. Nesting behavior
  5. Restlessness
  6. Vaginal discharge
  7. Weight gain or loss (Weight gain) (Dog won’t eat)

Severe Pyometra will have bloody discharge and a fever. If your dog is showing any of these signs or if your dog appears physically ill, it is important to take her to the vet immediately as Pyometra can be life-threatening.

HOW TO HELP A DOG GO THROUGH A FALSE PREGNANCY

False Pregnancy Dog

If your dog is going through a false pregnancy, there are some things that you can do to help her through it.

First, it is important to understand that a false pregnancy is USUALLY not dangerous to your dog and does not require treatment. However, it can be VERY dangerous- even life threatening.

However, if your dog is exhibiting signs of a false pregnancy, it is best to take her to the vet for an examination. This will help rule out any other possible causes of her symptoms and ensure that she is healthy, not facing any potential womb infections, and examine whether your dog is truly not pregnant.

Once you have ruled out any other possible causes of her physical changes, there are some things that you can do to help your dog through a false pregnancy:

  1. Provide her with a safe place to nest (Big Barker is our favorite bed)
  2. Give her extra attention and love
  3. Make sure she is getting enough exercise and mental engagement (Here are some ideas)
  4. Do not allow her to mate
  5. Feed her a high-quality diet (Our favorites here)
  6. Talk to your vet about physical activity

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If your dog is going through a false pregnancy, the most important thing that you can do is to be there for her. Show her extra attention and love, make sure she is getting enough exercise, and provide her with a safe place to nest. By doing these things, you will help your dog through this difficult time.

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False pregnancy in dogs is relatively common, but unfortunately can be very dangerous. If you have a dog experiencing clinical signs of false pregnancies, you should monitor them closely.

FALSE PREGNANCIES AND GETTING YOUR DOG SPAYED TOO YOUNG

False Pregnancy Dog

It is important that your dog be allowed to produce hormones.

Depending on their breed, hormones prepare the dog’s body for more than just pregnancy.

Male dogs rely on testosterone for their health, while female dogs rely on progesterone and other reproductive hormones for theirs.

Progesterone has been linked to bone health, heart health, and a healthy immune system in dogs. Testosterone is important for male dog’s libido, muscle development, and red blood cell production.

Both hormones are proven to be a beneficial and crucial aspect in the joint development of dogs. Below you can see images of breeds, with comparison of pediatric spay development and the same dog who was allowed to develop normally.

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HOW TO PREVENT FUTURE FALSE PREGNANCIES

Once your dog has had a Phantom Pregnancy, it is possible that they might have another one. Phantom Pregnancy in dogs is caused by a hormonal imbalance and unfortunately, there is no way to prevent future episodes.

The best way to prevent future false pregnancies is to have your dog spayed at the right time. Spaying your dog will remove her ovaries and uterus, which will eliminate the possibility of her ever having another false pregnancy.

Not only will spaying your dog prevent future false pregnancies, but, when done at the right time for your breed, it will also help to keep her healthy. Spaying your dog will reduce her risk of developing certain types of cancer and other health problems.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON FALSE PREGNANCY IN DOGS

False pregnancy in dogs is a relatively common condition that can be caused by a hormonal imbalance.

If your dog is exhibiting signs of false pregnancy, it is important to take her to the vet for an examination. This will help rule out any other possible causes of her symptoms and ensure that she is healthy.

Once you have ruled out any other possible causes of her physical changes, there are some things that you can do to help your dog through a false pregnancy:

  1. Provide her with a safe place to nest
  2. Give her extra attention and love
  3. Make sure she is getting enough exercise
  4. Do not allow her to mate
  5. Feed her a high-quality diet
  6. Do not spay during false pregnancy
  7. Talk to your vet about physical activity

If your dog is going through a false pregnancy, the most important thing that you can do is to be there for her. Show her extra attention and love, make sure she is getting enough exercise, and provide her with a safe place to nest. By doing these things, you will help your dog through this difficult time.

False pregnancy in dogs is relatively common, but unfortunately can be very dangerous. If you have a dog experiencing clinical signs of a phantom pregnancy, you should monitor them closely and consult with your veterinarian.

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Hello Danes

Dane lover and believer in ethical breeding, training and rescue practices. Positive + Balanced trainer, owner of rescue dogs and dogs from breeders. Love the dog in front of you.

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