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False Dog Pregnancy: What You Need to Know!

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

July 2, 2021

Dogs are like humans in many ways, including when it comes to reproduction. Females have menstrual cycles just like humans do, but it is typically called the heat or estrous cycle. They can get pregnant during their heat cycle when mating with an unneutered male dog. However, sometimes false or phantom pregnancies can happen. We are going to explore what these terms mean, how they can affect your dog and your family, and what can be done about a false pregnancy situation should one arise.

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What Is a False or Phantom Pregnancy?

In short, a false or phantom pregnancy is one that seems to exist in a female dog but is simply not a reality. Your bitch might display plenty of signs that make you and her think that she is pregnant, but she may not be pregnant at all. You may notice that your dog shows a tendency to be motherly or has a big interest in nesting in a crate or corner as if preparing to give birth.

Some dogs are so convinced that they are pregnant that they display signs of pregnancy, such as distended bellies, titties that discharge milk, and general lethargy. So, how do you know if your dog is actually pregnant or is experiencing phantom symptoms? The only way to know is to schedule a checkup with a veterinarian.

fat labrador
Image Credit: Pixabay

Why False Pregnancies Happens

One of the most common reasons that a dog may display symptoms of a false pregnancy is hormones. If your dog’s hormones are not in balance, their bodies may actually feel like they are pregnant, which will make the dog react as if they are pregnant. Your dog will likely show all the signs of pregnancy due to hormone imbalance if the imbalance does not correct itself quickly.

Sometimes, the false pregnancy can go on for months, and all the while, you and your dog are thinking that puppies are on the way. However, you should be seeing a veterinarian regularly, in which case, your vet should be able to detect a false pregnancy early on so you are not forced to deal with it for the long term.

puppy having ultrasound
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander

How False Pregnancies Can Affect Your Household

A false pregnancy can affect your entire household, especially if the situation goes on for more than a few days and extra accommodations and plans are made as time goes on. You and your children can become attached to the idea of having puppies around. Your poor dog will feel all the effects of pregnancy without actually having the experience of carrying and birthing puppies.

A false pregnancy can cause unnecessary stress, heartache, and overall inconvenience for everyone and every animal involved. To avoid falling for a false pregnancy, it is important to schedule a checkup for your pooch soon after you have the idea that they might be pregnant.

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Image Credit: Pernataya, Shutterstock

What You Can do About Your Dog’s False Pregnancy

If your dog ends up having a false pregnancy, your veterinarian may be able to administer hormone therapy to help balance her hormones and get rid of the pregnancy symptoms. It could take a few weeks for your pooch to get back to normal. In the meantime, you should be patient, understanding, and accommodating to your dog as she goes through the motions and comes to terms with the reality of things.

You may need to let your pooch rest and lounge around more often than she usually does. You may also notice that your dog is not eating as much or is eating more than usual, so just go with the flow. Your pooch may even become nervous or stressed out, in which case, extra love and support is a good idea.

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In Conclusion

Your dog does not have to live her life going through phantom pregnancies. The first thing that you can do to minimize the risk of future false pregnancies is to work with a veterinarian who has the knowledge and experience necessary to balance your dog’s hormone levels as time goes on. A commitment to oversight and supervision when other dogs that are not fixed are around your unspayed pooch should also be a priority. Has your dog ever experienced a false or phantom pregnancy? If so, how did you handle it? Let our community know in the comments section!

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Featured Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. As a vegan, Rachael is obsessed with helping animals in need both in her community and anywhere in the world where she feels she can make a difference. Animals also happen to be her favorite topic to write about! She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens.

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