Pseudocyesis, or phantom pregnancy in dogs, is something that not one or two dog owners have witnessed. It may sound weird, but it’s actually not uncommon for unsprayed and virgin female dogs. It’s usually not something earth-shattering, but it’s important to spot it early on and get your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Here are the symptoms you’ll need to look for:
- Nesting behavior
- Digging for a nest
- Mothering of toy, pillows or other, smaller pets
- Excessive grooming
- Enlargement and secretion of the mammary glands
- Abdominal distention
- Weight loss, usually due to eating less because of a depression
- Weight gain, usually due to eating more because of anxiety
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lethargy and an overall lack of energy
- A vaginal discharge of mucoid fluids
- Going into labor – “false labor”
As confusing as these symptoms can seem – particularly because some of them go opposite to one another, it’s important to understand that that’s because phantom pregnancy in dogs can be caused by different things. Most often, Pseudocyesis is caused by a hormonal misbalance or by hormonal fluctuations. Both are quite common for unsprayed dogs, especially when they are still virgins.
Other possible causes of phantom pregnancy in dogs can be Hypothyroidism (a dysfunction in a dog’s thyroid gland), Mastitis (an infection of the mammary glands), Cancer of the mammary gland, a uterus infection, an organ swelling, or fluid accumulation.
As you can see, depending on the exact cause, a phantom pregnancy in dogs can be relatively harmless or a symptom of something very dangerous. Regardless, even if it’s harmless, if left unchecked, a phantom pregnancy can cause health problems to your dog in and of itself. So, whenever you spot it, take your pooch to the vet immediately.