Short on time? Get the gist:
- Nearly 80% of unspayed dogs will experience at least one false pregnancy.
- Symptoms of false pregnancy can be behavioral (e.g., nesting, mothering) and physical (e.g., swollen mammary glands, milk production).
- Medication is rarely necessary – but track the BEAM.
False pregnancy – how common is it?
If you’re the pet parent of an unspayed dog, there’s a nearly 8 out of 10 chance that your pup has experienced a false pregnancy after estrus (a heat cycle) or that she will experience one in the future.
Signs of false pregnancy – don’t fear!
You may observe your dog nesting and gathering (and guarding) toys as if they’re her puppies. You may also notice swelling in the mammary glands and even milk production. Don’t be alarmed! In most cases, false pregnancy is due to hormonal fluctuations (which may trace back to wolves ensuring milk availability for puppies) and she’ll be just fine and back to herself within a month.
Should I Worry About False Pregnancy?
When healthy, a dog experiencing false pregnancy will typically have mild symptoms that don’t require any treatment other than symptom support.
When considering the false pregnancy – and anything else that is “out of the ordinary” – we emphasize looking at BEAM first and foremost.
BEAM stands for Behavior, Energy, Appetite and Mood. These four qualities will guide you in assessing your pet’s overall health. It’s a simple yet sensitive way to monitor your pet’s current state of balance. Note that sometimes a dog experiencing a false pregnancy may have minor changes in BEAM as she may be sleepier than usual or a bit more protective of her toys or other household objects that she may be mothering.
Treatment for False Pregnancy
If the symptoms your dog experiences are more than mild or bring discomfort, you may want to support her so she feels more at ease. First, determine if that’s the case. Are swollen mammary glands troublesome for the dog? They can get quite large but are they actually dragging on the ground when she walks? Is she active, eating, and happy or her appetite has gone down and she became irritable/isolating?
Sometimes Pulsatilla is indicated for false pregnancy, depending on other symptoms.
As there are over 100 of the 7,000 homeopathic remedies that may help a false pregnancy, a holistic or homeopathic practitioner who can help by phone is an important member of your health care team.
For great information and links regarding finding a holistic and/or homeopathic veterinarian, please visit www.holisticactions.com/select
Some tips to support your dog
- It can be disturbing to your dog to remove the objects she’s chosen to mother. To minimize upset, please consider removing those while she is outside or in another room.
- To help dry up the milk faster, avoid handling her mammary glands and consider using a cone if you see that she is licking or self-nursing, which can perpetuate milk production.
Again, false pregnancy is quite common and although it can be alarming to us as pet parents, it typically requires no treatment. Of course, for the piece of mind and to support her body through this – consider using a few steps from the happiness protocol.
Spaying will prevent it from happening again, but please wait until all signs of the false pregnancy have passed.
Finally, if there’s any chance that your dog has been impregnated, or if she’s showing a decrease in BEAM or any other concerning symptoms, please have her examined by your local veterinarian.