Infertility in the female dog

Pet Corner


Over the last few weeks, we departed from our theme of “Infertility” and dealt with the topic of “Spaying and Neutering” as a method of stopping fertility (pregnancy).

Let us today return to the topic of “Infertility”.

False Pregnancy

Technically, this topic should not be placed under the heading of ‘Infertility’, but I really don’t know where else to put it. Besides, we are dealing with an imbalance in the animal’s hormone system which in fact can lead to ailments of the womb (uterus) and ovaries, and finally to infertility.

20130324steveFalse pregnancy is a common condition in which a non-pregnant female thinks she is pregnant. She exhibits all the behavioural and physical signs and symptoms associated with a true pregnancy. Physical signs suggest that it is caused by an excess of progesterone. However, research has shown that progesterone levels in false-pregnant females are the same as those for normal females. Science does not seem to have a perfect answer to this anomaly as yet. False pregnancy occurs about six to ten weeks after estrus (heat). The signs are an increase in the amount of body fat, particularly in the abdomen.  Often, the breasts become enlarged and secrete a clear or brownish fluid or even a milk-like liquid which dries and then cakes up the nipple. Some females make a “nest” and experience a bit of abdominal cramping as if they were going into labour. Some show a mothering instinct and become attached to small toys and other objects which are puppy substitutes.  Others vomit off and on, become depressed; and a few even develop diarrhoea. Some bitches stop eating altogether.

Occasionally, the false-pregnant bitch appears to exhibit severe uterine cramps. As mentioned above, caking of the breast is not unusual, but it is another source of discomfort.

I really should mention here that this false pregnancy situation is not always immediately clear to you and sometimes not definitely obvious to your veterinarian. So, the final and definitive diagnosis might have to be made after several visits to your vet who will in due course eliminate the possibility of a true pregnancy after compiling the history of the animal’s behaviour and the other symptoms delineated above. He/she will, at every visit, palpate the abdomen, and eventually, if necessary, recommend that you get an x-ray done or even an ultrasound.


20130324dogMild cases require no treatment.  The condition often resolves itself spontaneously.  The female begins to return to her normal condition in 14 days or less. Bitches with uterine cramps can be given the birth control pill, Ovaban, in a dose of one mg per pound of body weight for   eight days. Often this will relieve the      discomfort. Your veterinarian may also wish to prescribe testosterone and/or diethylstilbestrol. This is a procedure that must entail a lot of discussion. Fiddling around with hormone injections/tablets can lead to a greater damage later on. For example, I never use or recommend estrogens as a part of the therapeutic intervention. In addition, a female dog exhibiting a false pregnancy is likely to have again and again other exhibitions of false pregnancies. I have therefore always maintained that any cat/dog that shows a hormone imbalance should be spayed.

For caked breasts, you may massage them with camphorated oil; apply hot packs; squeeze the breast so as to express the coagulated milk.

Enough for today; you have got only a few days to prepare for Phagwah and Easter.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-Heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals.  Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.

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