The 3 Best Natural Treatments for Dog False Pregnancy

Suzie Cyrenne
Authored by Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie is a Certified Homeopath and Co-Founder of Zumalka
, specializing in natural and holistic remedies for pets.
- Feb 9, 2024

If you're still having a tricky time finding natural ways to deal with phantom pregnancy in dogs, then you've come to the right place.

We've put together this blog post to walk you through all the important things that you need to know about this condition, particularly the symptoms you should keep an eye on, it's possible causes and risk factors, as well as the natural options you can go for when this issue gets in the picture.

So without further ado, how about we kick things off by having a quick overview of what dog false pregnancy is?


What is False Pregnancy (Phantom Pregnancy) in Dogs?

dog lying on the floor

False pregnancy in female dogs is a condition where a bitch goes through hormonal changes in her body that mimic physical signs of being a soon-to-be mother and having puppies.

It is important to take note that this problem can possibly happen to a dog of any breed and of any age—so long as they are within the normal limits of being actually able to get pregnant.

Besides showing behavioral and physical changes in pregnancy, some bitches experiencing severe cases of phantom pregnancy may display a persistently swollen mammary gland and even milk production!

Unlike what a lot of dog parents mistakenly think, though, dealing with phantom pregnancy is not just about using conventional medication. There are homeopathic remedies that you can go for when this health issue gets in the picture.

We will discuss what these herbal remedies are as we go along.


How Does a False Pregnancy Differ from a True Pregnancy?

sleeping dog

The main difference between a false pregnancy and a real one is the actual presence of puppies inside a female dog's body. The more usual method of confirming the same is through the use of an x-ray during a visit to the vet.

While a bitch that is falsely "pregnant" will tend to exhibit pregnancy indicators, such as nesting and increased maternal instincts, there was no actual insemination by a male dog during her heat cycle or estrus cycle.

What's really surprising is that the physical signs and behavioral changes of phantom pregnancy in a female dog will usually occur approximately forty-five (45) to sixty (60) days after being in heat.

Is there milk production during a phantom pregnancy in dogs?

As we've highlighted earlier, the discrepancies in the hormones of a bitch can be so severe that it can actually stimulate effects such as milk production in a female dog.

Although, normally, the mammary glands (or a mammary gland) may become stiff during a phantom pregnancy, the hormonal changes may be so significant in some bitches that milk flow—and even more milk production in the days that follow—will take place.

Does a false pregnancy only happen to an unspayed female dog?

Contrary to popular belief, being falsely pregnant is not a condition that only affects unspayed bitches. This problem will occur regardless if a female dog was or was not mated during her estrus or heat cycle.

This basically means the time when bitches are "in season" or when they are at their most fertile.

Additionally, false pregnancy can also affect female dogs that were already spayed, but the procedure was done too soon after their "in heat" period. The effects of a false pregnancy will usually be observed four (4) to eight (8) weeks after this time.

In short, spayed or not spayed, your dog can still be prone to being falsely pregnant.

We'd just like to stress that the more of the hormones are from their normal levels, the more prominent these effects will be. A visit to the vet is usually required to determine hormonal levels, which can be checked through procedures like blood work.


Is Pseudo-Pregnancy in Dogs Dangerous?

playul dog on outdoors

The short answer is it depends.

A bitch is generally not going to be at risk of any major health issues when she is experiencing a false pregnancy. However, this will hinge on the fact that the hormonal changes she is going through are not that significant.

Otherwise, if her hormone levels are really off the mark, a bitch could be prone to some wellness problems like inflammation of the mammary gland, womb infections, as well as the possibility of tumors affecting the mammary glands but very rarely.

This is a key reason why being familiar with the periods when your female dog's season and heat cycle will begin and end is quite important.


What are the Most Common Causes of False Pregnancy in Dogs?

curious dog lying on the bed

The biggest reason why false pregnancy in dogs occurs is due to significant inconsistencies in hormone levels, particularly that of prolactin.

At its simplest, prolactin is in charge of the growth and development of the mammary glands, as well as the production and release of milk via the mammary alveoli. Excessive amounts of these hormones in a female dog's body will usually trigger the onset of a phantom pregnancy.

We'd just like to reiterate that besides mimicking the physical signs of "true pregnancy," a bitch having too much prolactin will also experience the behavioral changes associated with the same, usually after a few weeks after her heat cycle.


How Long Does a False Pregnancy Last in Female Dogs?

playful dog with his ball

False pregnancy in dogs can last for as long as two (2) to three (3) weeks. Your dog may begin to display mild symptoms or the common signs of this condition—such as fluid retention—immediately after her heat period.

In case the symptoms that your dog is exhibiting are more than mild, make sure you consult a pet homeopathy expert or a vet to administer the right medication or treatment as soon as possible.

It is crucial to remember that once a dog has become falsely pregnant or has shown its signs and symptoms, there is a big possibility that this issue will reoccur after her next estrus cycle.


What are the Risks of Dogs False Pregnancy or Pseudo-Pregnancy?

fur mom kissing her pet dog

When your dog has highly disrupted hormonal levels, such as in the case of being falsely pregnant, she may be susceptible to inflammation of the mammary glands and womb infections.

As we've highlighted earlier, not giving your female pooch the right care and treatment during this time may also put her at risk of mammary gland tumors sooner or later. Ensuring that you give her the appropriate homeopathic remedy immediately can make a really big difference.


Symptoms of Phantom Pregnancies in a Female Dog

dog and its owner by the beach

The following are the most common signs and symptoms of false pregnancy in dogs:

  • Sudden change in eating habits or loss of appetite

  • Persistent licking of the mammary glands

  • Fluid retention

  • Weakness and lethargy

  • Displaying of nesting behaviors for her toys

  • Lactation may occur in some dogs

  • Being quite attached to toys as "puppies"

  • Bouts of restlessness due to hormone surges

Moreover, depending on how disrupted the hormonal levels are, your dog may also either unexpectedly gain weight or shed some pounds during this time.

We also highly recommend using a t-shirt (or a similar makeshift covering such as a cone from the vet) to prevent your pooch from stimulating her mammary glands during a false pregnancy. Remove toys that she gets extremely attached to in the process as well.


3 Natural Treatments for False Pregnancy in Dogs

owner hugging her pet dog

Here are some no-fuss natural treatment options you can go for should your dog show signs and symptoms of false pregnancy:

Sage helps ease swollen mammary glands.

Sage contains compounds that can help deal with swollen mammary glands and nipples, which are the most prominent symptoms of false pregnancies in canines. You can either go for the dried or fresh variety. Simply adding half a teaspoon to your dog's food will already do the trick.

Parsley assists in abnormal milk production.

Parsley helps balance the amounts of estrogen and other hormones that are associated with the estrus cycle and lactation in dogs. A pinch of this herb with your dog's meals will already suffice. It is important to take note that you should only use curly-leaf parsley for this application.

Raspberry leaf helps encourage the balancing of hormone levels.

Another natural treatment that you can use for false pregnancy in dogs is raspberry leaf. It helps by evening out the surges in hormonal levels, particularly prolactin. This is the hormone that is pinpointed to set off the signs of canine phantom pregnancies.


How Can You Prevent Future Episodes of Phantom Pregnancies?

Time is of the essence when it comes to keeping false pregnancies in check. Make sure you administer the right natural treatment as soon as you notice their signs and symptoms! Neglecting this issue for weeks can mean future recurring episodes of the same.


About the author

Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie Cyrenne


Suzie Cyrenne has dedicated more than 20 years of her life in making and improving natural animal health solutions in the global setting.

Being the co-founder of Zumalka, Suzie is a forerunner in enhancing the lives of pets through natural and homeopathic options using the knowledge she has gained from the Classical Homeopathy School in Quebec.

Through the guidance of her mother-in-law and fellow natural health expert, Denyse Lessard, Suzie constantly devotes herself to create premium pet products that are aimed at dealing with the root causes of wellness problems and not just their symptoms.

Besides immersing herself in books, personal development and visiting new places, Suzie also enjoys keeping herself in tiptop shape by snowboarding and taking daily hikes with her husband and Zumalka co-founder, Matt Lessard, and their Golden-Doodle, Westin.

Find out more about Suzie when you click HERE.

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