Causes of False Canine Pregnancy

The exact hormonal mechanisms that must occur to trigger false pregnancy are as yet unknown. We do know that a combination of interacting hormones, including estrogen, adrenal hormones, and prolactin from the pituitary gland, influence milk production in the mammary glands. Prolactin levels seem to be the main cause, but why this hormone does what it does when it shouldn't is a subject for future research.

Fortunately 90% of false pregnancies resolve over a period of three weeks with no treatment. Since no real harm has been done there's no reason to speed up what nature will take care of in time. For about 10% of bitches, though, the psychological effects directing mothering behavior are so intense that the bitch is miserable. She's continually searching for pups that aren't there and seeking relief from the mammary gland engorgement that's making her uncomfortable. Mastitis, an infection of the mammary glands, if it were to occur at this time could be particularly dangerous.

On occasions, in about 10% of false pregnancy cases, treatment is warranted. Various hormonal substances have been used to hasten the reabsorption of milk and to halt the milk production. None of these medications is entirely safe so close veterinary supervision is necessary. Most often the veterinarian will administer a hormone to interrupt the dog's secretions of internal hormones that may be promoting the production of more milk.

Dog Breeding Be Responsible Soundness False Pregnancy? Pseudocyesis