Pseudo pregnancy in the dog
Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Dogs are descended from the wolf and the wolf is a pack animal . In a wolf pack, only the alpha female – the highest ranking – litters gets pups. The rest of the she-wolfs remain unfertilized. For the survival of the pack, it is very important that nothing happens to these puppies and that the highest ranking bitch is quickly recovered from pregnancy and litter in order to be able to lead the pack again.
That is why nature has come up with a trick: other wolves in the pack also show physical characteristics of a nursing wolf; they become pseudo pregnant. They give milk to the puppies and take care of them as their own puppies, they take over the mother’s task from the alpha female.
Although many of our dogs bear little resemblance to the wild wolf in appearance, the essence of many canine behavior has remained the same as that of their wild ancestors. One of these legacies is that many modern house dogs, even though they don’t live in packs and there is no alpha female to help with suckling, exhibit the same false pregnancy behaviors.
Symptoms of a pseudo pregnancy
Often the first thing to notice is that dog starts to behave differently from the heat. In animals that have been fertilized, the progesterone level starts to rise from that time on. The same thing happens in unfertilized, pseudo pregnant bitches.
After childbirth, this progesterone level drops again and the hormone prolactin ensures that milk production starts. This hormone also affects the behavior of bitches. Many pseudo pregnant dogs like to withdraw, or even want to run, become snarling, eat less well and want to go outside less. Still other dogs become annoyingly affectionate, or very squeaky. Some will even look for surrogate children and will drag anything that could pass for a puppy, such as socks, slippers or toys, to their ‘nest’.
Sterilize or not?
Some dogs endure the pseudo pregnancy without too many problems. Others clearly suffer from the pseudo pregnancy and are not feeling well, this is often an unpleasant period for the boss as well.
One of the risks of a regular pseudo pregnancy is that lumps or abnormalities in the milk lists can form. These could be reasons for deciding to have a dog spayed.
However, a pseudo pregnancy does not always have to be a reason for spaying. A lot of distraction, poor feeding and ignoring deviant behavior in the dog as much as possible will in many cases help to get through the pseudo pregnancy more quickly. It is also wise not to touch extensively on the dog’s lactating nipples or to stroke the belly a lot: the pituitary glands can respond to this by producing extra milk.
Medication for false pregnancy
There are a number of regular remedies that combat false pregnancy. These are often so-called prolactin inhibitors, which counteract the production of the hormone prolactin. However, these agents can cause side effects, ranging from lethargy to cramps or nausea.
There are also various natural remedies available that reduce phantom pregnancy behavior and the associated physical consequences. You can do this Contact contact our veterinarians.