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What causes a phantom pregnancy in dogs? 

After every season or heat, there are hormonal changes which prepare a bitch’s body for pregnancy, even though they are not pregnant.

This may be because naturally, dogs would live in groups and the more female dogs that can help with puppies the better. Some females are more affected by the hormones than others and these bitches may suffer symptoms.

How long will my dog’s phantom pregnancy last?

This depends on the severity of the symptoms. A phantom pregnancy in a dog can last anywhere from a week to a month.

What are the symptoms of a phantom pregnancy?

Signs that your dog may be experiencing a phantom pregnancy include lethargy, depression and/or other behavioural changes, loss of appetite, nesting (this can involve moving around and digging bedding) and nursing (your dog may become particularly attached to a toy).

They might also have a swollen and suffer secretion from mammary glands.

If you suspect that your dog is having a phantom pregnancy, take them to see your vet, who will be able to rule out a real pregnancy or any other medical conditions which can cause similar symptoms.

Unless symptoms persist for a long period of time, treatment is not normally necessary and the phantom pregnancy will normally stop on its own. Milk will dry up more quickly if the glands are not stroked or bathed. Long-term, neutering is recommended.

You can prevent your dog from having a phantom pregnancy by getting it neutered. In female dogs, this involves removing the uterus and ovaries. Not only does it prevent pregnancy, and false pregnancies, it also reduces the risk of breast cancers and eliminates the possibility of potentially-fatal infections of the womb.