How to cope with a phantom pregnancy

In my last blog, I reported that my puppy Beatrice had entered into her (sometimes) naughty junior or teenage phase. Within a week, she was clearly showing signs of a phantom pregnancy; lethargy, loss of appetite, swollen teats and production of milk. She was also clingy and less confident.

How Long Does a Phantom Pregnancy Last?

Phantom pregnancy’s can last anywhere between one and three weeks. Occasionally, they can continue for longer. If this happens your vet should be consulted and medication will most likely be prescribed.

What Can You Do For Her?

Some but not all can have behavioural changes including aggression, particularly guarding behaviours. If this happens, try to keep out of reach things she may guard such as socks, underwear or Beatrice’s favourite, tea towel’s found in the utility room, waiting to be washed! The less she rehearses any unwanted behaviour, the less likely is it to become a learnt behaviour where she gains reward for it such as attention. If she does get anything and if it’s not dangerous, take no notice but focus on something she can have like it’s the most exciting thing in the world. Do not challenge her. Otherwise, yet again try to ignore any unwanted behaviour and step up on your leadership. She may be feeling strange and insecure so clearer leadership will make her feel better. Also, as long as she is not too lethargic, a little extra stroll in the day and a little extra mental stimulation will give her something else to focus on and help her to relax.

Maddie Knight

ACC.Ad.Dip.Can.Psy AMACC Canine Psychologist and Behaviourist
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