It may seem absurd at first to witness your pet dog experiencing a false pregnancy, and even look as if she were going to have a litter of pups. It may seem like a strange phenomenon to us people, but this is a very evident problem among female dogs. Primates, while following a menstrual cycle to give birth upon mating, are unlike dogs who follow what is known as the estrus cycle, which comes around every 6 - 8 months.
During this time, a female dog is made ready to be impregnated. The hormones thus function accordingly, doing what they were designed to do - make her look like a mama dog. Also known as a phantom pregnancy, it is not a cause for alarm when you see the classic pregnancy signs of lactating and behavioral alternations. The problem can be dealt with easier by getting a vet to help you out during this period.
Symptoms of False Pregnancy in Dogs
The symptoms that occur when a dog is pregnant are pretty clear and obvious when spotted. Once you see these changes in your dog, your next step would be to learn how to treat canine false pregnancy.
Is She Lactating?
Once the hormones start going haywire, this causes an imbalance, where the mammary glands then get activated, producing milk in the process. You'll notice the nipples take on a swollen, tender look. Sometimes, the mammary glands when filled with milk, cause pain for the dog, where a vet would have to milk the teats himself to take off some of this pain. The severity to sensitivity and the duration of the lactation phase differs from dog to dog, based on how their bodies react to the hormone imbalance.
Aggression and Bodily Changes
There's no need to panic when you see your dog's tummy has taken on a protrusive look. This happens when the hormones force the dog's system to enlarge the abdominal area, as it readies itself for the babies. If you know for a fact that your dog hasn't mated with a male, then this is a sure sign of being falsely pregnant. She may be aggressive one day, and lethargic another. Mood swings are of course another symptom that is quite evident. Even depression is an ongoing sign that she goes through when the false pregnancy period kicks in.
Mothering Objects and Nesting
Be it clothes, stuffed toys or a ball of socks - dogs will tend to bring forth their maternal sides during a false pregnancy. If she takes things to her bedding area, and is with it all day, everyday, you can be certain that your pet dog is going through a phantom pregnancy. She will be protective and show aggression if you approach what she is mothering. She will start to prepare a place for the pups, making the bedding area comfortable with blankets, cushions or even bed covers and clothes.
How to Treat Phantom Pregnancy in Dogs
There's nothing serious involved, or life-threatening about the situation. You can deal with this time on your own, and call in a vet when the time is right. Let's find out what you can do once you are sure that what your dog is going through is a false pregnancy.
Put a Stop to the Mothering
Whatever your dog collects and holds next to her 24/7, should be removed and taken away from the bedding area, or wherever she keeps isolated. Don't allow her to make a nesting space for them, and gently saying 'no' will help your dog understand that her behavior is not acceptable. Keep taking the things she collects, and clear up the nesting area of items she may put there to ready the spot for the litter.
Knowing When to Neuter
Choosing the right time is important during this period. If you take her in to get neutered while the symptoms are at its peak, it will only lead to future episodes of false pregnancy. That is why it is important to wait for the signs to go away, which is when the period will have passed over - then take her in to get neutered.
Emergency Signs to Look Out for
It is important to know when to take your dog to the vet when serious signs have to be addressed that your pet dog will showcase. Problems to look out for are, overly aggressive behavior that is hard for you to handle on your own, vaginal discharge that reeks or looks cloudy when expelled, long bouts of depression, extreme lethargy and inflammation of the mammary glands. Look out for signs like urinating often, lethargy, drinking a lot of water and loss of appetite, which could mean that she is going through what is known as pyrometra. It is a hormone abnormality condition that happens to dogs who haven't been neutered. Be sure to have the symptoms diagnosed to avoid confusing it with the false pregnancy.
It also is important to understand the workings of the female dog's system so that you are prepared for a false pregnancy when it occurs. Consult a vet on ways on how to help the situation once it does take place, and do what is needed to help your pet get through this time.