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    What Is A Phantom Pregnancy In Dogs?

    What Is A Phantom Pregnancy In Dogs?

    by Health / 3 min read

    Phantom Pregnancy In Dogs


    Estimated Read Time: 3 minutes

    Summary: In this blog, we learn all about phantom pregnancy in dogs. We’ll find out what one is, what causes a phantom pregnancy in dogs, the symptoms, and how long they can last. Read on to find out more…


    What Is A Phantom Pregnancy In Dogs?

    A phantom pregnancy in dogs is a false pregnancy where a female's body goes through the hormonal shifts that cause her to experience pregnancy like symptoms without actually carrying pups. They are fairly common in female dogs that haven’t been spayed, but can happen to any aged non-neutered dogs who have mated or not mated. 

    What Causes A Phantom Pregnancy In Dogs?

    A female dog that hasn’t been neutered will go through seasons (sometimes this is referred to as being “on heat”) and the hormones released from each season prepare the body for pregnancy, whether they’re actually pregnant or not. Some dogs are very sensitive to these hormonal shifts and this can induce the symptoms of a phantom pregnancy.

    Dog in dog bed

    Phantom Pregnancy Dog Symptoms

    A phantom pregnancy will typically occur 4-9 weeks after her seasonal cycle has finished. Phantom pregnancy dog symptoms include:

    • Lethargy
    • Seeming depressed
    • Disinterest in food
    • Disinterest in exercise and play
    • Swollen belly
    • Enlarged mammary glands
    • Secretion from her mammary glands which is brownish or watery
    • Nursing - she may become very attached to/fond of a certain toy and guard it
    • Nesting - noticeably digging her bedding and moving around frequently
    • Vomiting

    The severity of symptoms vary from dog to dog, and depends on the previous heat cycle too. 

    Phantom Pregnancy In Dogs: What To Do

    If you suspect your pup may be experiencing a phantom pregnancy, you need to have your vet rule out actual pregnancy and other medical issues that may be causing similar symptoms. 

    Unless symptoms last for several weeks, treatment is not normally deemed necessary. The phantom pregnancy should wear off on its own. If your dog is being sick because of symptoms though, she may be given an anti-nausea shot or medication to help with that specifically.

    Your vet may also suggest using warm or cold packs on her mammary glands to decrease inflammation, and minimize the body perceiving any stimulation (like petting) as a trigger to lactate. 

    If you don’t want it to happen again and aren’t intending to breed your dog, neutering is recommended and advised for your dog’s long-term comfort and health. As well as preventing pregnancy, spaying your dog can also reduce her risk of developing dangerous womb infections and breast cancers. 

    Puppy sleeping

    How Long Does Phantom Pregnancy Last In Dogs?

    Depending on the severity of her symptoms, a phantom pregnancy can last anywhere between 7 days and 4 weeks. 

    If a female dog is spayed during a phantom pregnancy episode, the symptoms may last for several weeks after the surgery.

    Can Dogs Have Phantom Pregnancies After Being Spayed?

    Phantom pregnancies do not occur in dogs that have been spayed. 

    Related Reads

    How To Take Care Of A Pregnant Dog

    Signs Of UTIs In Dogs


    Blue Cross

    First Vet

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