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How to Recognize False Pregnancy

If a bitch is pseudopregnant, she often behaves completely differently than usual. Read here how to determine if your bitch is pregnant and what you need to consider during this time.

The pseudo pregnancy in the dog is reminiscent of a “false motherhood”. Unneutered bitches will act as if they are pregnant or have recently given birth to puppies even though they have not been mated. False pregnancy is a natural process and not dangerous. Read here how you can tell that your dog is falsely pregnant and how you can help her.

Hormones as a cause

An unneutered bitch becomes pregnant four to nine weeks after heat. The complicated hormonal cycle causes this condition, which can last about two to three weeks. Some dogs are pseudopregnant for up to eight weeks.

This is what happens in the dog’s body: The hormone progesterone (which controls processes during pregnancy) is released after ovulation – regardless of whether the bitch is pregnant or not. However, the progesterone levels drop again quickly when the body realizes that the bitch is not pregnant. However, the hormone prolactin increases: it stimulates the mammary glands to produce. The pseudopregnancy begins.

This hormonal process is completely normal and harmless. Any non-neutered bitch will be falsely pregnant. However, in some bitches it is hardly noticeable. Others, on the other hand, behave very differently than usual during the false pregnancy.

Detect false pregnancy

There are many different signs of a false pregnancy. Some bitches show no symptoms, while others noticeably change their behavior. These are possible signs:

  • She’s more tired than usual.
  • She eats less, has less appetite.
  • She is listless and depressed.
  • The bitch’s teats are developing and milk production can occur.
  • She builds nests.
  • She is extremely cuddly.
  • She begins to drag away all toys, sometimes slippers or other things.
  • Many bitches defend their supposed offspring, become aggressive and even snap at the owner.

This behavior can overwhelm dog owners. It is important that you know what to do if your dog is falsely pregnant.

Support female dogs

The seemingly pregnant bitch can often be playfully distracted from her instinct to build a nest. Put away toys during this time and take her for walks a lot. If the bitch is less lively, this is normal at this stage. This should be accepted by the owner.

The bitch must not lick the swollen teats, as this only stimulates milk production. Special dog clothing or, if necessary, a collar from the vet can prevent the bitch from doing so. Even the owner is not allowed to treat the teats himself! Observe whether the swelling goes down on its own after a few weeks without touching the teat.

Some bitches become aggressive during the false pregnancy period. This is a serious risk factor in a household with young children from whom the dog takes toys and defends them. Sedative medications can help de-escalate the situation with these symptoms.

At the same time, a preparation that inhibits the production of the hormone prolactin can be given. This can not only help against the aggression problem, but also against the swollen teats.

If you are overwhelmed by your dog’s behavior and/or are considering medication, you should definitely ask your veterinarian for advice.

Neutering against false pregnancy?

Castration prevents future false pregnancies, but not immediately. If the ovaries are removed, the level of the hormone progesterone (responsible for processes during pregnancy) suddenly drops sharply. The consequence: the hormone prolactin is released in high concentrations and it comes even more to pronounced symptoms of false pregnancy.

If the owner experiences the false pregnancy as a really serious problem, it may make sense to castrate the bitch. However, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about this and look for other possible solutions first. With the right tricks, you can make the false pregnancy comfortable for both your dog and yourself.

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