Psychological pregnancy in dogs - Symptoms and treatment

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The psychological pregnancy in dogs, also know as pseudopregnancy, it is a relatively common disorder in dogs, although not in cats. It appears at the end of the right-hander and is characterized by physical and behavioral symptoms, including the production of milk or the raising of inanimate objects. It could appear in Chihuahuas, Yorkshire, sausages or crossbred dogs, that is, any female is susceptible to suffering from it.

In this AnimalWised article we will talk in detail about psychological pregnancy in dogs, explaining why it occurs, what symptoms are the most frequent or what is the treatment of choice that our veterinarian may suggest. Likewise, we will also explain to you what to do to avoid it.

You may also be interested in: Psychological pregnancy in cats - Symptoms, causes and treatment Index
  1. What is a psychological pregnancy in dogs?
  2. Symptoms of psychological pregnancy in dogs
  3. How long does a psychological pregnancy last in dogs?
  4. Diagnosis of psychological pregnancy in dogs
  5. Psychological pregnancy in dogs and its treatment
  6. Home remedies for psychological pregnancy in dogs
  7. Prevention of psychological pregnancy in dogs

What is a psychological pregnancy in dogs?

To really understand what pseudopregnancy is, we must talk about zeal in bitches and the estrous cycle. Once reached sexual maturity (about 6 or 9 months of life), the bitch experiences the first heat, which is repeated from time to time, becoming more regular over the years. The following phases stand out:

  1. Proestro (3 to 17 days): at this stage the bitch begins to attract males, however, it is not receptive to mating and is not fertile.
  2. Oestrus (from 3 to 17 days): now the bitch is receptive to mating. At the beginning of this phase the most fertile days of the bitch occur. Can get pregnant.
  3. Right handed (from 60 to 100 days): at this stage the bitch again rejects the mount. If fertilization has occurred the female will experience gestation.
  4. Anestrus (130 days): period of sexual inactivity in which the body of the dog "rests".

During the right-handed stage, the female's body has a high hormone concentration, even if a pregnancy has not occurred. The corpus luteum, which has been making progesterone during ovulation, will gradually begin to wear out over 60 days or more, causing the body to feel that a pregnancy has actually occurred. Thus, when the corpus luteum is rapidly destroyed at the end of the right-hander, a process similar to that which appears during childbirth, the bitch believes that she has had puppies and that is when the theft of inanimate objects and their rearing occurs.

¿Why does psychological pregnancy occur in dogs?

Pseudopregnancy is a totally normal process And it is part of the cycle of the bitch, however, when it does not resolve normally, health problems and behavior problems appear, this is when it must be treated by the hand of a veterinarian to ensure the well-being of the bitch.

Symptoms of psychological pregnancy in dogs

The symptoms of psychological pregnancy in the bitch are very similar to those of a canine pregnancy real, so it often leads to confusion. On the one hand we will observe physiological symptoms, although behavioral symptoms will also appear.

Physical picture of psychological pregnancy in dogs

Psychological pregnancy in dogs and its symptoms are as follows:

  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Bulging belly
  • Thickened breasts
  • Milk production
  • Breast licking
  • Licking of the vagina

Behavior of a bitch with psychological pregnancy

Regarding behavior, it can also be affected by pseudopregnancy:

  • Makes a nest
  • Dig into the bed
  • Steal inanimate objects
  • "Breeding " inanimate objects
  • Hides
  • Does not want to walk
  • She is apathetic
  • Sozolla
  • Scratch the floor and walls
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Demand attention

How long does a psychological pregnancy last in dogs?

Psychological pregnancy in dogs is estimated to last approximately between 1 and 3 weeks, However, we must know that a dog that is sensitive to these changes is very likely to experience a psychological pregnancy in all jealousy. In any case, some health problems that appear during pseudopregnancy can continue even after three weeks.

Diagnosis of psychological pregnancy in dogs

Given the suspicion of a psychological pregnancy in the bitch, the most advisable thing to do is go to the vet, since only the specialist can issue an accurate diagnosis. In whole females, that is, not neutered, the professional must rule out the possibility that a true pregnancy by abdominal palpation and ultrasound or radiography. If it is an unwanted litter, the professional will be able to explain to us how to terminate a dog's pregnancy in a safe way.

Having ruled out the pregnancy, the professional will analyze the symptoms that the bitch presents and will prescribe the treatment that he considers appropriate, both for the physical symptoms and for the behavioral problems that are caused by hormonal changes. Special consideration will be given to the medical history and any other factor that you consider relevant.

Psychological pregnancy in dogs and its treatment

In general, psychological pregnancy remits after three weeks, so if the dog does not present physical or behavioral problems, it will not be necessary to apply any pharmacological treatment.

However, we must know that the breast lick causes a significant stimulation for milk production, so it may be interesting to perform a quick scrub with camphor alcohol. You will not like the taste of it and it will also prevent possible infection. Of course, avoid overdoing the scrubs, as excessive handling will also stimulate production, something that we must avoid. In the most serious cases it may be necessary to place a elizabethan necklace, which will increase your stress levels and help cut the milk. It will also be of vital importance to remove the toy, cloth or inanimate object that the dog is "raising ", since it increases maternal behavior.

On the other hand, we will increase physical exercise as much as possible or conduct training sessions to keep your mind active and distracted from psychological pregnancy in dogs. She is likely to be reluctant to do so, so it is advisable that we encourage her with our voice and with tasty rewards. Regarding behaviors related to stress, anxiety and the demand for attention, they should be completely ignored and replaced by requests for obedience, which we will later reinforce.

¿How to remove psychological pregnancy in dogs?

In the most serious cases the vet may prescribe antiprolactinics me anxiolytics, always taking into account the weight, age and condition of the bitch presenting the psychological pregnancy. For its part, the appearance of canine mastitis, breast infection should be treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Remember that in no case should you use a drug that is not expressly issued by the veterinarian.

In any case, to completely avoid psychological pregnancy in dogs and the associated symptoms, it is necessary to resort to bitch castration. It is important to note that some drugs to prevent pregnancy, such as megestro, a progestin, can cause the appearance of canine pyometra, an especially serious health problem.

Home remedies for psychological pregnancy in dogs

It is very common to find home remedies that claim to solve this problem, however, it is important to note that no "trick " will be able to solve psychological pregnancy in dogs, since we are talking about a health problem caused by a hormonal imbalance, for it it is not advisable to use home remedies, Well, we could worsen the state of health of the dog without wanting it.

Prevention of psychological pregnancy in dogs

As you have seen, pseudopregnancy can cause the appearance of serious health problems, such as mastitis, pyometra, stress and anxiety among others. Likewise, there are many other associated health and behavioral problems, such as depression or behavior changes. Knowing that 5 out of 10 dogs will suffer psychological pregnancies throughout their lives, it is always advisable to spay the bitch, a safe option that will help prevent health problems and guarantee stable behavior.

If you want to know more about the psychological pregnancy in dogs do not miss this complete video of the veterinarian Susana González from the San José Veterinaris clinic on our YouTube channel:

This article is merely informative, at we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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