False Pregnancy In Dogs – Complete Guide

False Pregnancy In Dogs – Complete Guide

If you are a pet parent of a female dog, have you ever watched some signs of pregnancy in their physical and behavioral nature? Did you expect to have little puppies from your female dog and then be disappointed by realizing she is not pregnant? This is called the Phantom pregnancy or false pregnancy in dogs.

The false pregnancy can be mostly witnessed in unspayed dogs. Sometimes false pregnancy symptoms can be severe, and you may need to start treatments for your dog with the help of a vet.

Therefore, as pet owners, you need to have a proper idea of false pregnancy in dogs to identify it separately from real pregnancy.

As an owner of a female dog, I also expected puppies from my Lenny. She has shown pregnancy symptoms twice by fooling me, but they are false pregnancy conditions.

However, then she bought three cute puppies to run here and there with little paws. So, with the two experiences of disappointment, I think I could make you aware of the false pregnancy in dogs and their behavioral changes. 

At the end of this article, you may be able to understand what the false pregnancy and dog false pregnancy whining together with the differences between a dog’s false pregnancy and the actual pregnancy.

Then let’s identify the reasons for the false pregnancy and the symptoms your dog may show in false pregnancy. Finally, I’ll help you to deal with your dog that suffers from a false pregnancy. So keep reading, and you’ll get answered to all the above matters within 2-3 minutes.

Let’s get started!

Dog false pregnancy whining

False pregnancy is also known as phantom pregnancy, pseudocyesis, or pseudopregnancy. It is common in unspayed female dogs, and according to studies, it is proven that about half of the unspayed dogs experience false pregnancy in their lifetime.

They start to show off pregnancy signs physically as well as in behavioral patterns. These female dogs may begin to whine, and it may be due to distress and depression. This false pregnancy whining may be a disturbance for you and your family members.

When the female dogs are in the heat, it usually lasts four to nine weeks and must clear up within one to four weeks. Some female dogs will experience some false pregnancy signs after each time they are in heat, and it is natural.

When you find your female dog is in false pregnancy whining, try to get her spayed before her next season to reduce future false pregnancy disappointments.

Dog’s false pregnancy vs. Real pregnancy

Suppose your dog is showing the signs of pregnancy, but there is no possible way for her to be pregnant. In that case, it could be false pregnancy in dogs with a reproductive problem. It is a hormonal issue, and the dog begins to think she is carrying puppies.

This false pregnancy differs from real pregnancy, and you need to identify them separately to deal with two situations properly. Most of the time, false pregnancy signs may disappear within three weeks. 

As an owner of a female dog, Lenny, I have witnessed both the false pregnancy and the real pregnancy. I will share my experiences with you, and it will support you to differentiate two situations in your dog.

One of the ways I used to determine Lenny’s false pregnancy from real pregnancy was to feel her puppies. Within the 28th and 35th days, you may be able to feel the puppies in the womb of your dog, and you may feel them like walnuts.

Then in the last two weeks, you can feel them moving in the womb. But remember, when you are doing this to differentiate false pregnancy from real pregnancy, you should be gentle and not imply much pressure.

I have tried this for Lenny and got disappointed twice, and then when I feel the walnuts, it makes me too happy.

In addition, you can examine yourself whether your dog has exposure to other dogs or had a chance to mate. The signs of false pregnancy and actual pregnancy are similar, and memorizing the possibility of mating for your dog can be used to differentiate it.

Suppose you let her go outside and have company with other male dogs during her fertile cycle. In that case, there is a possibility of a real pregnancy. But if she is always within her crate with no company with other male dogs, then exactly she is showing false pregnancy symptoms.

I always make Lenny play with my friend’s male dog Blacky. Therefore, I could not differentiate her pregnancy from this fact since there was a possibility. 

Moreover, the best way to identify false pregnancy and the real pregnancy in your dog is by taking her to a veterinarian. Then you will be able to clarify whether she is pregnant or not.

Suppose you do not need puppies from your dog. In that case, you can go to a spaying procedure by discussing it with your vet. It will cut off the possibility of real pregnancy and prevent false pregnancy.

So, the first thing you need to do is identify the false pregnancy from the real pregnancy and take care of your dog according to the situation.

Why do dogs suffer false pregnancies?

The false pregnancy in dogs is a natural incident that happens due to the hormonal cycle of female dogs. A healthy female dog is starting to experience her first heat cycle between the first six months and one year old. She will experience heat for about 10 days, once every six months.

During this period, after heating, her body is starting to prepare for pregnancy by producing hormones in the ovaries. This cycle happens continuously, even whether she has mated or not. 

If she has mated and got pregnant, then her body will maintain her pregnancy by producing hormones. After nine weeks, your home may experience little whining puppies.

However, if the dog is not pregnant, then her body’s hormones mimic real pregnancy, and most of the time, they will end with no effect after a few weeks. This false pregnancy can enhance further stress and depression of the dog.

These are the reasons for false pregnancy, and due to the heat cycle and less possibility of mating, this will happen further. You can spay her if you want to prevent her from being pregnant and from false pregnancy symptoms.

Symptoms of false pregnancy in dogs

The symptoms of false pregnancy in dogs are too similar to the actual pregnancy, and you should carefully differentiate them. My Lenny, during her false pregnancy, shows off the following symptoms.

You can observe whether your female dog is showing these symptoms. Then you can come to the conclusion that she is in a false pregnancy. 

  • Shows an interest in mothering and nursing
  • Adopts toys or other dogs’ puppies
  • Collect inanimate objects and mothering them
  • Prepare a safe and comfortable place for nesting
  • Can be nervous and aggressive
  • Changes in appetite; she can be too hungry or lose her appetite
  • Drink more water
  • Vomiting after eating
  • Swollen belly
  • Enlarged and Secreted mammary glands
  • Abdominal contractions and false labor
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Lethargy, restlessness
  • Clinginess to you

How to deal with your dog in a false pregnancy?

If you are a pet parent of a female dog, you need to have a good idea of false pregnancy in dogs, and you need to know how to deal with your dog in false pregnancy.

At the very first time, I also didn’t have proper identification on false pregnancy. I got fooled as my pet Lenny has pregnant.

But now, with the experience, I know how to deal with them in that situation, and here are a few ways you can follow to help your dog in a false pregnancy.

1. Careful observation

First thing you need to consider as a pet owner is an observation. When adopting a dog, you must pay attention to them and carefully observe the physical and behavioral changes.

Therefore, be aware of the hormone cycle of your female dog and observe whether there are changes in your dog at the end of the fertile cycle.

2. Identify the false pregnancy symptoms

You need to have prior knowledge of false pregnancy symptoms and how your dog is showing off. Then be alerted when the fertility cycle of the dog ends and whether she is showing signs of false pregnancy or not.

You can try out the methods we have discussed to identify false pregnancy from real pregnancy. Get in touch with the dates when the symptoms started and know whether they may generally end within 3-4 weeks.

3. Take the dog to the vet

If the false pregnancy symptoms last seriously for more than 3-4 weeks, you have to take her to the vet. Then the vet will examine the dog clinically and confirm whether the pregnancy is false or real.

The ultrasound, radiographic tests as well as blood tests to explore the progesterone levels will be conducted by the vet and may provide necessary treatments to your dog.

4. Treat severe behavioral symptoms

Suppose your dog has more distressed and anxious behavior. In that case, your vet may suggest preventing your dog from licking herself since it is a sign of interest in nursing.

Moreover, these behavioral patterns can be reduced by making more time with her and playing and taking her for walks.

5. Spaying the dog

The best treatment for false pregnancy in dogs is spaying or ovariohysterectomy. Suppose your dog is spayed in the period of false pregnancy.

In that case, the symptoms can be seen for several weeks due to hormone circulation. Still, it will prevent your dog from future false pregnancies and further sterilize her. 

6. Prevent stimulation of mammary glands

It would be best if you prevented your dog from stimulation of mammary glands to reduce false pregnancy.

You can use an Elizabethan collar for your dog. It will prevent her from self-milking and licking. 

7. Stay patient and sympathetic

In a false pregnancy period, your dog may steal your belongings to nest and comfort items for her puppies.

It is irritating and can make you angry, but try to understand your dog’s situation and stay patient and sympathetic to her. You better give her cuddles and allow her to stay with you.


Now, you have got a clear idea of the false pregnancy in dogs and the reasons why they act like that, their symptoms, how to differentiate it from real pregnancy, as well as how you can deal with it. If you are an owner of a female dog, this article was an essential topic for you since most female dogs show off false pregnancy signs during certain periods. So make aware of your dog and help her to endure the situation in false pregnancy. 

Thank you for reading this post. Stay tuned with Jack Russell Owner for more interesting posts about our four-legged friends.

Cheers from Shaggy and Lenny!


  • Lisa Watson

    Lisa W. is a practicing certified veterinarian (BVetMed Hons in Veterinary Medicine) who graduated from Royal Veterinary College, UK. One of her research fields is mixed-dog breeds and their temperament, behavioral issues, and genetic health concerns. Also, she gathers data about purebred dog breeds and their origin, lifespan, and genetic conditions. Lisa is a loving dog parent who is keen to share her expertise with other fellow dog parents.

    [email protected]

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