Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and the
author of “Brain Training for Dogs.”

Let's double check the symptoms of pregnancy before the celebration

Let’s double check the symptoms of pregnancy before the celebration begins.


What Is Pseudocyesis?

Pseudocyesis is the medical term depicting false pregnancy in dogs. It
typically occurs in female dogs that have not been impregnated approximately
six to 12 weeks after their last heat. It is still not well understood what
seems to trigger false pregnancy in dogs, but there seems to be an association
between false pregnancy and the interaction of hormones along with the
increase of prolactin, something yet to be further investigated and

Signs of False Pregnancy in Dogs

Affected dogs will act as if pregnant, causing owners often to believe their
dog is pregnant when she is not.

Behavioral Changes

  • Nesting: Affected dogs may be found pacing around the home looking for blankets and paper to shred in order to create a comfortable area to give birth and raise puppies.
  • Mothering: Often, a dog suffering from false pregnancy will be found adopting a stuffed animal or any other inanimate object and treating it as a puppy. Often, the dog may even guard it against the owners and strangers.

Physical Changes

The most stunning symptoms are those affecting the dog’s body. Dogs affected
by false pregnancy may exhibit:

  • Enlarged nipples that may secrete milk or fluids
  • Weight gain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Mimicked labor

However, in some cases, these physical signs may indicate pyometra, a
potentially fatal disease affecting intact female dogs.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your vet will palpate the dog’s abdomen to ensure the dog is not pregnant.
However, this method is not very accurate, x-rays or an ultrasound are much
more accurate and reliable.

Luckily, the condition resolves on its own within two to three weeks. Dogs
that tend to lick their mammary glands should be prevented in doing so because
this may prolong the production of milk and the discomfort. Often, an
Elizabethan collar may be helpful in such cases.

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Dogs that are affected once by pseudo pregnancy often are likely to be prone
to future episodes. In some cases, female dogs may be quite miserable during
their pseudo pregnancy therefore, they may require medications or hormonal
treatments to minimize the milk flow.

Owners that are considering spaying their female dog should do so only once
the pseudopregnancy is over.

The Difference Between False Pregnancy vs. Real Pregnancy in Dogs

The two are often easily confused. The only way is by proving if there is an
actual pregnancy or not. This can be done at the vet’s office. As early as
after 28 days, veterinaries may be able to palpate the embryos through the
dog’s abdomen.

An ultrasound may be a more accurate and reliable test. This test may actually
even help determine how many puppies the female dog is expecting.

A Relaxin pregnancy test as well may be helpful. This test is a blood test
than can be done as early as 20 days after the luteininzing hormonal surge.
Test kits may be available to dog owners today, however, in order to perform
this test a centrifuge is required. If not, an owner may ask a vet if the
blood sample can be dropped so to allow it to undergo centrifugation.

X-rays can confirm pregnancy after 45 days.

Further Reading

  • Signs your dog is pregnant
    When it comes to canine pregnancy there are two different types of owners: the

  • Dog pregnancy test
    Determining if your dog is pregnant or not can be somehow challenging,
    especially for the new owner or the inexperienced breeder. Many things need to
    be considered when trying to count the odds. Most likely if…

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It
is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription,
or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional.
Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a
veterinarian immediately.


Judy medler on April 29, 2017:

My Doberman just had one baby in nov 3 2016..she had her heat when her baby
was 3 months old…she started acting like she was going to have more
baby’s…she didnt get fat .she did get milk in her nipples..but the vet said
its was we have a lill bit of blood comeing from her nipples…what
can i do now.? Thank you..