Recognizing a False Canine Pregnancy

Dogs may seem pregnant when they are not through false canine pregnancy, called pseudocyesis, which follows the estrus cycle. Hormone levels may remain high enough to support a pregnancy whether a dog has bred or not. False pregnancy is common in dogs and is not a medical crisis.

False canine pregnancy causes behavioral and physical changes that manifest six to 12 weeks after the last heat cycle. Dogs may shred blankets or other materials to make a "nest," as well as "mother" household objects like toys and shoes. Dogs may experience weight gain and vaginal discharge.

To diagnose false pregnancy, a vet may order a variety of tests, including a medical history and physical exam to determine if a dog is capable of becoming pregnant or is pregnant, abdominal radiographs to document uterine enlargement and fluid retention, blood work to determine blood count, and a biochemistry profile to assess liver, thyroid and kidney function.

Most often false canine pregnancy ends naturally after approximately three weeks. If treatment is necessary, a vet may recommend limiting food or water intake to decrease milk production and prescribe furosemide to increase urine production. Sedation is also an option. Drugs like testosterine and mibolerone cause side effects and are not generally prescribed for false pregnancy.