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Doggy Dan
- The Best Online Dog Training Program
The Happy Puppy Handbook: Your Definitive Guide to Puppy Care and Early Training
Brain Games For Dogs: Fun ways to build a strong bond with your dog and provide it with vital mental stimulation
Homemade Dog Food:
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Personalised dog lead (3 foot long, black)
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50 x One Step Highly Sensitive 20mIU Ovulation / Fertility Strip Tests (Wide)


Phantom Pregnancy In Dogs

An Easy Reading Guide For Pet Owners

False Pregnancy In Dogs Symptoms And What To Do About It

So what is a false pregnancy in dogs?

A false (phantom) pregnancy means a bitch can give the impression she is pregnant by her breasts swelling and lactating. Her attitude towards you may change; she could also be developing the nursing habit and starting nesting and surprisingly this occurrance is quite common.

Many times this occurs usually in pets that are overweight and get very little exercise owing to the surplus estrogen being a by-product of fat cells.

Phantom pregnancy symptoms in dogs and how long does it last?

Symptoms of false pregnancy in dogs normally start around 6 to 12 weeks after a season as the level of the hormomone prolactin within the blood, provided by the pituitary gland, starts to rise and many times the hormone level is too high which in turn produces this condition of false pregnacy. It ends as the hormone level drops which is generally around the 14th week after a season.

Dog with phantom pregnancyIn a normal pregnancy prolactin is produced and results in the swelled breasts, lactating and nesting characteristics which is precisely what happens with a false pregnancy. Many times she will collect her toys, socks or shoes and keep them in her bed as though they were her puppies, while at the same time she may be aggressive, protective of her 'young' even if she is normally a placid bitch.

This stems eons ago from our pets being in groups, just like present day pack or herd animals, where the ones who are mated go on to give birth naturally. The females within the group have cycles tending to occur around the same time and the remaining unmated ones naturally produce this prolactin at the same time as ones who are pregnant, meaning they go into a phantom pregnancy (pseudopregnancy) where they can be producing milk as foster mothers for any young born into the group.

This naturally allows the real mothers time to hunt or get a break while suckling is taken care of elsewhere.

From this it can be understood it is a totally natural condition

Phantom (or false) pregnancy in dogs treatment

Some owners are under the impression that mating their dog will stop future phantom pregnancies, but this couldn't be further from the truth as bitches who have produced puppies tend to be more likely to have false pregnancies in the future.

There are several free options available to reduce these false pregnancy symptoms.


f you wish her to produce puppies in the future it can be disregarded as it will come to an end around the 14th week after her season.

Just let her go her own sweet way, but do not be touching her belly as you are confirming the dog's deep psychological notion there are pups searching for a food source and this stimulates milk production all the more.

You will also need to watch out for mastitis developing, showing signs of thick, yellowy issue from the teets as swollen mammary glands are susceptble to this condition. In this case a visit to the vet is needed.


The nesting symptom can be overcome by removing one item at a time from her bed, possibly once per day as she goes to the toilet, that way slowly removing her 'young'. Do be wary though, she may be overprotective of those 'young'.

Increasing her exercise as a diversion also helps a lot.


Lactation can be reduced by a small reduction in food. This means less calories for calorie rich milk production and also a little less water. The water is more important to the dog at this time owing to dehydration problems occuring.


A vet can prescribe anti-prolactic drugs if the natural methods give little improvement or if your dog is very aggressive.


For the ultimate conclusion, assuming no offspring are required, spaying is the option to choose.

It might seem like a good idea to spay the female to end the false pregnancy as spaying will remove the ovaries and the corpora lutea they carry. Unfortunately, this does not end the prolactin production from the pituitary gland, so spaying may actually prolong a false pregnancy if done at the wrong time.

This, in effect, gives a phantom pregnancy after spaying.

It is best to wait until the false pregnancy is over completely and then spay her to prevent future episodes as many vets will advise owing to the way natural ovarian hormones control prolactin reduction.

The only way to put your mind at rest and find out if your dog is having a real or phantom pregnancy is to have her scanned.

If you are having any other troubles with your dog and are looking for the best training methods used by thousands of other satisfied dog owners around the world check out this free dog training pdf with links to 4 free videos to help you out...

Take your time and explore the links to the side for more info.

More topics will be added in the near future!