VCA Animal Hospitals

Why does my dog seem pregnant?

Published: Jul 06, 2012

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If your dog is not spayed, it is a good idea to know the signs of pregnancy should she mate. However, dogs will sometimes show signs of pregnancy even if they are not going to become mothers. This is called pseudopregnancy, false pregnancy or phantom pregnancy, and can affect the dog physically and behaviorally.

False pregnancy in dogs usually occurs about four to nine weeks after their last heat cycle. You may notice physical symptoms such as mammary gland enlargement, lethargy, vomiting and fluid retention - all symptoms seen in pregnant dogs. The dog may also be acting like she is pregnant - nesting, mothering activities, being restless and showing a decreased interest in physical activity. Some dogs even have a false labor, then act protective of their toys or other small objects.

It is important to keep in mind that not all dogs in heat will experience this, and some dogs will have different clinical signs from one cycle to the next, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. This phenomenon happens because of the hormones produced by the ovaries after an estrus cycle. These hormones prepare a dog's body to carry puppies, whether or not she was fertilized by a male. If she is not pregnant, these signs should subside as the hormones do, after about four to six weeks, and do not require treatment.

However, if you are concerned about your dog's physical condition or behavior, talk to your veterinarian about treatment options. The vet may recommend spaying the dog, since this procedure will eliminate almost all issues related to the dog's heat cycle. VCA recommends spaying to prevent pregnancy because breeding dogs contributes to the pet overpopulation issue in the United States.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, spaying can also prevent a number of health issues for your dog. It can reduce the dog's risk of breast cancer later in life and will eliminate her risk of ovarian and uterine cancers.

VCA reports that it is best to spay your dog after all clinical signs of a false pregnancy have subsided, otherwise she may continue to exhibit these physical and behavioral signs for several weeks after the procedure. 


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.