False Pregnancy


False pregnancy, also known as a phantom pregnancy, is a common condition affecting entire / unneutered female dogs. It usually occurs around 6 - 10 weeks after the end of a season and is associated with the production of their hormone prolactin. This hormone causes her to produce milk and behave as if she has puppies...

Bitches typically show some or all of the following signs
  • a painful enlargement of the mammary glands
  • milk production
  • changes in behaviour, such as irritability and even aggression
  • nesting behaviours
  • depression
  • refusal to eat
An increase in maternal behaviour may also be seen, for example she may start creating a nest and nursing inanimate objects, such as cuddly toys. Sometimes she may guard these objects as if they were her puppies.


Medication is available, aimed at stopping the bitch's false pregnancy and milk production. These are veterinary prescription drugs and you will need to speak to your veterinary surgeon first, we can then advise you if we need to examine your bitch first.  We will need to know the date of her last season and how often she is in season (e.g. once or twice a year).   We may not be able to prescribe medication if she is close to coming into season, as some medication can induce this.

False pregnancy can be upsetting and distressing for both you and your bitch, treatment will help alleviate her suffering and return her to normal.

It should be noted that false pregnancy may also increase the risk of mastitis and mammary tumours developing.   Bitches can experience multiple false pregnancies throughout their life.  We may recommend that you have her neutered.  If this is planned straight after successful treatment a short break e.g. 4-5 days after treatment has stopped, may be advised.

If you suspect your bitch is having a false pregnancy please ring us on 01376 325511 and we can advise you on the next step.

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