THE clinical signs of pseudo pregnancy range from subtle to extreme. In some cases, they are so convincing that even experienced breeders are confident that a litter is coming.
Signs include behavioural changes (anorexia or appetite fluctuations, whining, restlessness, signs of aggression, depression, or anxiety), maternal behaviour, mammary problems, vomiting and abdominal distension.
It is not difficult to diagnose false pregnancy in dogs. If the animal went through a heat cycle six to 12 weeks before the onset of clinical signs of pregnancy, whether or not she was known to be bred during that time, a veterinarian will take a thorough history of her recent physical and behavioural conduct and will perform a complete physical examination.
Radiographs and ultrasound can be used to conclusively confirm the presence or absence of pregnancy, and no additional blood, urine or other tests should be necessary.
Radiographs and ultrasound are also useful to rule out the possibility of a serious condition called pyometra which is an accumulation of pus inside the uterus from bacterial infection. Pyometra can be lifethreatening and must be treated as an emergency.
It is uncommon, but still possible, signs of false pregnancy will appear in a bitch who actually became pregnant and then either aborted or reabsorbed her puppies, in which case the risk of developing pyometra increases dramatically.
Unless you are showing your bitch I strongly recommend that they are spayed before the first heat. Vets have different opinions, some agree with me others say after the first heat. From a behavioural point of view the earlier we teach and train our pets the better.
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