Phantom pregnancies


Dear Connie, I have a female boxer, she is three years old. Her teats have swollen and the vet informed me she is having a phantom pregnancy, she has never had sex. Is this usual and what would you recommend?

A phantom pregnancy is when a female imagines and goes through all the symptoms of believing she is pregnant.


Females will store toys and treat them like young puppies, her teats will get large and she will even produce milk. Her abdomen will swell and her appetite will change.


At whelping time she will be very hyperactive, she will pant and tremble. She will curl up to her toys, varying symptoms are restlessness, whining and crying. Some females will go off their food and expect a lot of abnormal behaviour.

Females will become very affectionate to the family. Your vet will no doubt recommend to reduce her diet and fluid intake, since the more she drinks the more milk will be produced. Dried food is best and plenty of exercise to keep her bowels moving so as to excrete all the excess fluid produced by her body.

A phantom pregnancy is not to be considered a neurotic tendency, but should be considered as normal behaviour due to an abnormality of the ovaries.

Your vet will treat your dog, and then I would recommend that she be spayed, so that she will not suffer again. Having a phantom pregnancy does not mean that the bitch is sterile and unable to be mated and bear a litter.



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