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Imaginary pregnancy in a dog: what are the symptoms and how long does an imaginary pregnancy last for a bitch?

An imaginary pregnancy in a dog Characterized by the display of parental behavior by a non-pregnant female and milk production at the end of the diestrus phase.

imaginary pregnancy

There has long been a stereotype among the owners of bitches that a female should get pregnant at least once.

According to this theory, the female will be less prone to diseases of the reproductive system, she will be smarter and it will prevent an imaginary pregnancy in the next heat.

Nothing could be more wrong because imaginary pregnancy in a dog it is the result of the interaction of female hormones.

  • What is an imaginary pregnancy?
  • What is it and how long is an imaginary pregnancy in a dog?
  • How to recognize an imaginary pregnancy?
  • How to prevent and treat such a condition?
  • Side effects of an imaginary pregnancy in a dog

What is an imaginary pregnancy?

Imaginary pregnancy commonly occurs in unsterilized bitches showing oestrus cycles, and this phenomenon is considered physiological, regardless of the age, race or origin of the animal.

The occurrence of such a condition is not associated with any reproductive disorders, the development of pyoma or infertility.

Its appearance is evidence of ovulation that took place during the given sexual cycle.

What is it and how long does an imaginary pregnancy last for a dog?

What is an imaginary pregnancy?

An imaginary pregnancy usually occurs in a sequence 8 weeks after the estrus phase.

It is caused by a sharp increase in the level of prolactin, which is a response to the decrease in the level of progesterone.

It is a physiological condition that does not require treatment, but sometimes the symptoms are so severe that drug therapy is required.

Before starting treatment, you should exclude pregnancy using appropriate diagnostic procedures, as any treatment taken may have a negative effect on the fetus.

imaginary pregnancy it can also be caused by hypothyroidism or ovariectomy performed during the puerperal period or during pregnancy.

The duration of pregnancy depends on the individual. It can last either one week or several weeks.

This is influenced by the behavior of other household members, because allowing the animal to build a nest, take care of other animals, and even suckling the bitch by other animals more stimulates the bitch in an imaginary pregnancy.

If the symptoms of an imaginary pregnancy last longer than 2-3 weeks, bitches must be tested for hypothyroidism.

Performing the sterilization procedure in the postpartum period results in the appearance of an imaginary pregnancy in the dog it lasts longer, while by performing the procedure ovariohisterectomi during an imaginary pregnancy, this disorder may last up to several years.

How to recognize an imaginary pregnancy?

Imaginary pregnancy symptoms in a bitch

Imaginary pregnancy is diagnosed on the basis of clinical symptoms and diagnostic procedures aimed at excluding pregnancy.

The obvious symptoms we can observe in bitches during this mental state are building a nest, where toys are taken.

Animals undergoing an imaginary pregnancy treat objects as their own puppies, sometimes they can also take care of other animals - including cats.

Bitches are often restless, have swollen mammary glands, which is the result of started lactation.

You can see how a bitch in an imaginary pregnancy behaves in the video below

False pregnancy or pseudopregancy in dog
Watch this video on YouTube

How to prevent and treat this condition?

In order to prevent 100% imaginary pregnancy, it is necessary to perform surgery to remove the ovaries in the late anestrus period, that is, the earliest 8 weeks after the end of the heat.

However, it should be remembered that the recurrent symptoms of an imaginary pregnancy in a dog after sterilization may be due to the presence of residual ovarian tissue, so the surgeon operating such a bitch must be absolutely sure that all the tissue has been removed.

When it comes to the state of an imaginary pregnancy, weakly intensified clinical symptoms are treated by limiting the supply of food and water to such an animal, long and frequent walks and preventing the nest building.

At the time of severe symptoms of phantom pregnancy, the dog should be treated with pharmacological treatment aimed at reducing the production of prolactin.

For this purpose it is used cabergoline in the preparation Galastop or herbal preparations such as, for example:

  • Uromil,
  • prolactiNO.

Treatment for a dog's imaginary pregnancy usually continues from 5 to 10 days, depending on the severity of clinical symptoms.

Side effects of an imaginary pregnancy in a dog

What are the side effects of an imaginary pregnancy??

The most common side effect of an imaginary pregnancy in a dog is inflammation of the mammary gland.

The overproduction of milk in the dog during phantom pregnancy and the lack of its consumption causes it fermentation in the gland and is a very good breeding ground for bacteria.

Initially, it is observed increasing the temperature of the milk strip, which becomes inflamed and hard.

It often accompanies such conditions ache.

Long-lasting inflammation leads to the generalization of the disease that can lead to:

  • sepsis,
  • leukocytosis,
  • fever,
  • vomiting,
  • lack of appetite.

In this case, start therapy anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics with a broad spectrum of activity and fluid therapy depending on the clinical condition of the animal.

A less harmful side effect is a nuisance to the pet's owners during the phantom pregnancy. During an imaginary pregnancy, the dog sometimes requires more attention from its guardians and is anxious.


Currently, our country is trying to fight animal homelessness by urging pet owners to castrate and sterilize them, if they are not pedigree animals intended for reproduction.

Such a procedure allows to limit the population of homeless animals, and at the same time it will protect us and our bitches from the unfavorable condition which is an imaginary pregnancy.

Remember that only sterilization of bitches will allow us to eliminate the state of imaginary pregnancy, the risk of which increases after each oestrus cycle.

You have questions related to an imaginary pregnancy? Or maybe your pet has this problem and you want to share some insights? I encourage you to post comments under the article, I will answer all of them as soon as possible.

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