Phantom Pregnancy

Rosies litter 2012

A phantom pregnancy is an odd thing to occur and one of the reasons my husband likes to shake his head and say “dogs are weird”. Of course humans can have phantom pregnancies too, but my husband just rolls his eyes when I point that out.

A phantom pregnancy is when a female comes into season, does not get pregnant (for any reason, she might not have even had any contact with a male, much less have been intentionally bred) but the bitch’s body seems to believe she is in-whelp (pregnant).

During a phantom pregnancy the bitch shows all the normal signs of being in-whelp. She gains weight, acts hormonal, eats like a wolf and even her teats enlarge and her vulva swells. Her abdomen will enlarge but the imaginary puppies cannot be felt upon manual examination nor can they be seen on an ultrasound or an x-ray.

In general they resolve on their own and require no treatment. Sometimes a bitch will phantom-whelp and begin taking care of her favorite stuffed toys, too. It is an oddity that is more common in larger dogs than small dogs (or so I’m told) and can happen to regular, non breeding pets as well.

4 thoughts on “Phantom Pregnancy

  1. wow never heard of it . I have heard some will nurse and actually have milk even though they were never pregnant when a little one is in need and has been abandon for one reason or another

    • Humans can have it happen too, isn’t that interesting?

      I read on one blog (responsible breeder of amazing poodles) that the mother of a bitch that whelped a large litter actually began lactating and she helped nurse the litter! Now that’s teamwork! 🙂

  2. Wow! I have learned something about my dog today; she may be experiencing the phantom Pregnancy as well; she is gaining weight, but her nipples are not hanging and she is not swollen either, but she looks pregnant. Thank you very much.

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