It was #BackToSchool this week. I used to love it when I was a kid.
And I was excited too this year.
Because I knew what it meant for me : #BackToBlogging.
Summer was super-busy, and from my travels I came back with lots of ideas for future blog topics.
I was wondering where to start. Which topic to pick first.
And sometimes you know, you just have to open a Facebook message.
And the inspiration is right there.
« Doc, can you tell me about canine pseudo gestation ? »
Sure can !
And then I thought : « Even better. Let’s write a quick blog, that will benefit my dog breeder friends. »
Something I am pretty sure of : if you breed dogs, this is something you will see a lot.
In my opinion, it is therefore important to have clear ideas on that matter.
So I made a list. I came up with 16 points. « Up for a good start ! », I thought.
I wanted to write a single blog. But I wrote more than enough for 2 !
Part I is below for your to read.
You will find out what dogs breeders MUST know.
One condition. Many synonyms.
#1 Canine pseudogestation… Maybe you are not familiar with the term…
But as usual in the dog world, there are many synonyms there.
Maybe false pregnancy, pseudopregnancy, phantom pregnancy, or even ghost pregnancy will ring a bell.
The real scientific term is « pseudocyesis ».
But to be fair, even in the veterinary world, we don’t use it that much.
What you need to remember here: at the end of the day, all those words mean the same.
#2 What is it exactly ?
I really like the Wikipedia definition : appearance of clinical or subclinical signs and symptoms associated with pregnancy when the organism is not actually pregnant.
Let’s make it even simpler : the bitch acts like she is pregnant. While she is not.
#3 From a practical standpoint, what does this mean ?
Well, behaviour modifications are observed in the bitch. Those behaviours she would exhibit if she was pregnant or taking care of puppies.
She might try to build a nest.
She might treat an object (a towel, a toy, a teddy bear…) as a puppy and behave like its mother.
On top of these behavioural modifications, the bitch may lactate.
A matter of progesterone. And prolactine
#4 And very often people are not really sure how to consider this.
Is it normal ? Is it a behavioural issue ? Is it a disease ?
In fact it happens because of underlying hormonal mechanisms…
And this hormonal response is pretty much normal in canines so to speak.
#5 After ovulation, the ovaries of the bitch will produce an hormone called progesterone (the same one we use for timing of ovulation, more about this here)
This progesterone impregnation will last roughly 2 months.
You will find this exact same hormonal environment. Whether the bitch is pregnant… or not.
#6 At the end of this 2 month period, progesterone levels will drop.
Again, this will happen in all entire bitches, whether they are pregnant or not.
if the drop of progesterone is quite abrupt, it triggers another hormonal mechanism.
It triggers the production of the hormone prolactine.
#7 Prolactine will stimulate lactation.
Something key to remember here : this can happen, whether the bitch is pregnant or not.
You now understand why we often say that « at least 1 entire bitch out of 2 will, during her lifetime, experience at least once a pseudo gestation. »
It is almost like « normal » physiology of lactation.
That tells you why it is so common.
Our Part I ends here. Don’t miss Part II : we will touch on prevention and treatment !
And meanwhile, if you have stories about canine pseudo gestation, feel free to share them with me !