How to Prevent a Phantom Pregnancy in Dogs
Phantom pregnancy, officially known as pseudocyesis is a very common occurrence in female dogs. If you have a female dog at home you might have experienced changes in her behaviour, such as violence or weight gain. These, with mothering behaviour and enlargement of the mammary glands among others, are some of the symptoms of phantom pregnancy in dogs. If your female dog is not spayed and has never given birth it is common that for her to suffer from this condition.
Although many experts consider it to be normal, it is not without risk, as it can lead to problems like mastitis. OneHowTo.com explains how to prevent phantom pregnancy in dogs.
As in most diseases that can affect our pets, early detection of phantom pregnancy is fundamental. It is therefore important to be aware that phantom pregnancies usually appear between 6 and 12 weeks after oestrus, which is when you should keep an eye out for behavioural changes, as well as physical changes, e.g. to the mammary glands. These are some of the physical changes your dog might experience during a phantom pregnancy:
- Weight changes, either loss or gain.
- Enlargement of the mammary glands
- Milk production
- General lack of energy
- Vaginal discharge
Besides the physical changes, your dog will also experience behavioral changes such as:
- Nesting behavior. Your dog might take a blanket and bring it somewhere hidden.
- Mothering a stuffed toy
Anticipate the problem. One way to stop problem before it deteriorates, if picked up in time, is to restrict food. A fast of up to 24 hours (no longer) followed by a gradual increase in the amount of food, can help to stop the process. This is because, in times of shortage, the body does what it can to survive and abandons unnecessary processes such as milk production.
Sterilisation. The most effective way to prevent phantom pregnancy is sterilisation, i.e. the removal of the ovaries and uterus. This is a fairly simple operation that also prevents uterine infections, unwanted pregnancies and reduces the risk of breast tumours,. Many of these tumours are dependent on oestrogen, a hormone produced in the ovaries.
Beware of contraceptives. Medications known as progestin, used to prevent the occurrence of oestrus in animals, may increase the risk of phantom pregnancy. It is recommended to use these drugs under the supervision of a vet.
The vet might put an Elizabethan collar (cone) to your dog, to prevent her from licking her mammals and stimulate the creation of milk.
The most effective way to prevent your female dog from suffering a phantom pregnancy is to sterilize her. If you're sure you don't want to breed her in the future this is the best solution, as she will have a healthier life.
Visit your veterinarian for more advice. He or she will tell you what to do in this case.
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