Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Announcements

The Pet Health Community and Pet Health Center are NOT substitutes for a vet visit. Contact a vet in an emergency! | Dog Conditions A-Z | Dog Symptoms A-Z | Cat Conditions A-Z | Cat Symptoms A-Z

Remember Your Beloved Pet
Includes Expert Content
My Shih Tzu is having a false pregnancy
avatar
An_220982 posted:
I recently noticed a change in my year and a half old shih tzu's behavior but given her personality I didn't make an issue of it until her tummy started swelling and looked like she was filling up with milk to nurse. Gracie was the runt of her litter and weighs 8 lbs full grown but is very independent and loving. I bought her and her sister so that I could keep the two of them together as they were best buds from birth. I became concerned about her tummy swelling so I took her to the vets. After close examination and blood tests, the vet said she was fine physically but was going through false pregnancy and was actually getting the tummy and was developing milk. What causes dogs to do this and is it going to cause her depression when she finally realizes that she's not going to have pups? I do not want to breed her, for one, I would have a very hard time letting the pups go to other homes and second, I feel that Gracie is far too little and delicate and I don't want her to have to go through that. Will she continue to do this every time she's due for her cycle and will it stop if I get her spayed? My dogs are my children and I am very concerned about her. She also sucks on her stuffed animals as if she's nursing from her mother and she has done this since she was 8 wks old. Does anybody else have this problem with their dogs?
Reply
 
avatar
Violets_are_Blue responded:
False pregnancy isn't uncommon in unbred females. How often it will happen depends on the dog. Reseearch is not entirely sure why dogs and others go through this phase (some more info can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_pregnancy#Dogs ). As for depression, it's hard to say. Some dogs who actually give birth for the first time can be pretty surprised at what just happened. If you suspect she's depressed after the symptoms of her false pregnancy go away, have your vet examine her to be sure.

If she is not going to be bred, it would be best to have her spayed as soon as the vet can. One thing we do worry about with unspayed females is the chance of developing something called pyometra (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyometra ) which is fatal if not treated. This is generally seen in older dogs but can affect young ones. The false pregnancies will stop since the organs that cause this condition (ovaries) will be removed.
 
avatar
AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
Bonnie Beaver, BS, DVM, MS responded:
The best thing you can do for Gracie is to have her spayed after she ends the false pregnancy. False pregnancies are really normal for intact female dogs. Some dogs show very few signs. Some, like Gracie, show a lot. Each time she goes through heat she will show a false pregnancy (unless bred) and each time it will get worse. Since you are not planning on breeding her it is better for her health to have her spayed to. Intact female dogs will commonly get mammary cancer and they can get uterine infections (pyometra) that are life threatening.

Sucking on toys is a remenant of nursing behaviors shown by puppies. It is generally seen in dogs that were malnourished or ones that have retained juvenile behaviors for a variety of reasons. It generally is not dangerous, just different.

She sounds like a precious little darling. Thanks for asking.


Featuring Experts from AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION

William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

Helpful Tips

Excellent website for information on parasites in dogs and catsExpert
I just conducted a seminar and hands-on demonstration on diagnosis of fecal parasites to veterinarians and technicians. An excellent ... More
Was this Helpful?
33 of 47 found this helpful

Report Problems to the
Food and Drug Administration

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Learn more about the AVMA

WebMD Special Sections