Usually, we tend to use the terms psychological pregnancy and pseudogestation in female dogs as synonyms. Despite this, both concepts, although related, are different.
Phantom pregnancy, false pregnancy or psychological pregnancy seems to be caused by a hormonal disruption produced in the last stage of heat, which extends over time. This leads the animal to change its behavior and have behaviors of a pregnant dog, about to give birth or in a postpartum state.
These changes in hormonal levels and their subsequent behaviors do not seem to have clinical importance. In fact, it is quite common and does not pose a risk to the dog. As we will see, this is not the case with pseudogestation in female dogs.
What is canine pseudogestation?
The term pseudo-gestation refers, specifically, to a luteal phase – final phase of heat when progesterone levels are high – without pregnancy, caused when the dog has ovulated and has maintained intercourse without becoming pregnant.
The concentration of progesterone in the blood does not decrease and causes the development of the mammary glands and weight gain. However, unlike the psychological pregnancy, the dog does not show any kind of behavior related to breeding. This is, perhaps, the most significant difference to the naked eye that we can determine.
Essentially, at the hormonal level, in the pseudogestation we find high levels of progesterone in the blood. Conversely, In psychological pregnancy, progesterone is at minimum levels and we find a high concentration of another hormone, prolactin. The latter causes the maternal behavior of the dog.
Therapy and treatment of pseudogestation in female dogs
Ordinarily, veterinarians recommend thorough diet control in female dogs with pseudogestation. Although there is no difference in hormonal levels, empirical experiences indicate that reducing caloric intake reduces the duration of pseudogestation. Thus, it is recommended that the dog eat a little less during this time.
On the other hand, There are hormonal treatments to reduce and eliminate this state in the can. However, it has many side effects and, therefore, are not recommended.
The best way to avoid both pseudogestations, false pregnancies and unwanted pregnancy is sterilization. In addition, we eliminate at the root the probability that the dog suffers a pyometra and greatly reduces the possibility of developing breast and other tumors.
Pyometra is an infection of the uterus caused, in most cases, by a deterioration of the uterine walls. It appears, above all, in elderly non-sterilized bitches. Therefore, the probability of death is high, although in all cases, to solve the problem, a complete hysterectomy or removal of the uterus is recommended.
Consequences of pseudogestation in female dogs
Just as psychological pregnancies are not worrisome at the clinical level for the physical health of the dog, pseudo-pregnancy is. The high concentration of progesterone that accumulates in the animal’s blood causes, in the long run, other problems:
- Pyometra or infection of the uterus. Deadly disease if emergency surgery is not performed.
- Development of malignant mammary tumors at early ages
- Appearance of malignant neoplasms in ovaries and uterus.
All this, together with the problem of unwanted litters, abandonment and abuse of pets are, among many other reasons, some of the arguments to take the step to sterilize our pet.
If you have doubts about the benefits and contraindications of castration or spaying of pets, do not hesitate to discuss it with your trusted veterinarian. This professional is the most suitable to guide you on this topic so important for the health of your pet.
Phantom pregnancy in female dogs is a normal clinical condition in these animals. However, it is important to visit the veterinarian. Read more “