Hypnotism / sham pregnancy in the dog

Hypnotism / sham pregnancy in the dog

The pseudo-pregnancy, also called pseudo pregnancy or pseudo-motherhood, occurs a few weeks after the heat and is triggered by certain hormonal processes. In this article you will learn everything important about the hypnotism and how you can support your dog in this phase.

What does dog hypnotism mean?

Hypocrisy is the physical and psychological changes in the bitch that occur about three to nine weeks after heat and are controlled by certain hormonal processes.

Linguistically, it is more of a dummy motherhood, since the female dog has puppies at this stage and shows corresponding changes, although it was not mated. The technical terms for this are pseudo-pregnancy (pseudo pregnancy) or Lactatio falsa (false milk production).

This condition only occurs in uncastrated dogs and can manifest itself through various symptoms that are still covered in this article.

It is important to know that hypnotism is not a disease and behavioral changes are not abnormal behavior. Rather, dummy motherhood is a condition that can be explained by hormonal processes.

Hormonal processes in the heat and hypnotism

During the heat, the female dog goes through different phases, in which different hormones are active. In the afterburn phase, the so-called metestrus, the hormone progesterone (luteal hormone) is produced in the dog’s body. This hormone prepares the endometrium for implantation of the fertilized egg and serves to maintain pregnancy. This hormone is also formed in dogs that have not been mated.

If the progesterone level drops again, the hormone prolactin is released. This takes place around the time when the bitch would theoretically have her puppies (around 63 days after the mating act). The increase in prolactin has the effect of stimulating the mammy’s glandular tissue to produce milk and awakening the dog’s “mother instinct”.

Depending on how high the level of prolactin is, the more or less strongly the dog shows symptoms of hypnotism. In principle, every female dog can become hypocritical, although the “individual susceptibility” to the increase in prolactin to react with symptoms of false motherhood varies individually.

»Once a dog has an apparent condition, it does not mean that an apparent condition will appear again after the next heat. However, the likelihood is high that you can expect a similar course.

What are symptoms of hypocrisy?

The symptoms that are shown during hypocrisy vary from bitch to bitch, although the symptoms can also vary in severity. These can affect physical changes or changes in behavior.

Changes in behavior

  • The dog looks listless, limp or even depressed
  • Your dog has an increased need for sleep
  • The dog is more affectionate and increasingly seeks closeness to the owner
  • The dog no longer wants to leave its “nest” and refuses to go for walks
  • loss of appetite
  • Nest building behavior
  • Toys, slippers or other objects are searched, carried in a corner / “nest”, the dog lies down on the objects
  • Guarding and defending the objects, also against the owner
  • Aggressive behavior towards other dogs, especially other bitches

Physical signs of hypnotism

  • Swollen eyes and swollen teats
  • milk production
  • The bitch licks her eyes due to pressure pain
  • Warm suckling
  • Increased waist circumference

If your dog notices that the suckling feels excessively warm, if the suckling is hardened, reddened, painful in some places or if blood-purulent milk secretions come out of the teats, you should definitely consult a veterinarian. These are signs of inflammation of the eyes, called mastitis.

»If you notice any signs of inflammation of the eyes, a visit to the veterinarian is urgently required!

Why do female dogs become hypocritical?

To understand why dogs become hypocritical, one has to look at their ancestors, the wolves. In a wolf pack only the highest ranked wolf is covered and consequently only she gets puppies. So that the puppies are cared for, even if something happens to the she-wolf or for some reason she cannot take care of the puppies, it makes sense for the maintenance of the pack that the other she-wolf packs can also look after the offspring.

They take on the nurse function and can suckle the puppies. This requires the hormonal processes described above. Since wolf females go through their heat in about the same period each year, the sexually mature female animals in the pack are capable of producing milk, even if they have not had puppies.

How long does an illusiveness last?

Female dogs usually show symptoms of hypnotism one to three months after heat, which lasts around two to three weeks. Usually the symptoms subside after a few weeks without the need for veterinary treatment.

Treatment for hypnotism

Medical treatment may be necessary if you suspect inflammation of the eyes or if there are strong changes in behavior, such as aggressive behavior. In most cases, however, veterinary treatment is not required in the event of an ill health. Nevertheless, you should watch your bitch closely and observe some rules in dealing:

Check whether your dog could be pregnant

If dog owners cannot safely rule out that the dog was unobserved during the heat of the day with a male and that an unplanned mating could have occurred, it should be clarified in the case of symptoms of false pregnancy whether there is actually a pregnancy. The veterinarian can determine this.

Prevent the dog from licking its eyes

If bitches lick their eyes, milk production is additionally stimulated. A t-shirt, body or ruff can prevent this. However, the bitch should be used to these measures and should not be exposed to unnecessary stress.

Do not squeeze the milk

Massages on the mammals or expressing milk should not be carried out by the dog owner. Here, too, the further secretion of milk is stimulated.

Keep your dog busy

Extensive walks, games with the owner and activity provide some distraction for dog with a bad eye. Find out more about dog activity at home here.

Clear away toys

If female dogs use toys, cuddly toys or slippers as a puppy replacement, they should first be put away. Of course, games with the dog are still allowed. After a game, the toy can be put away so that the dog can come to rest better.

Get help from an expert on aggressive behavior

Some female dogs defend their toys during pretend motherhood or react aggressively to their peers. If children live in the house, this behavior can become a serious problem. If female dogs react with aggressive behavior, the following steps should be taken: 1. Toys are consistently put away. 2. The dog is secured with a muzzle, which is best trained sufficiently positive beforehand. 3. Outside, the dog is secured with a towline so that it cannot run to other dogs. 4. Appropriate medication is coordinated with a veterinarian to reduce the symptoms of hypnotism. Even a competent dog trainer can give tips for handling this phase.

Are there medications to treat hypocrisy?

As already described, it is not necessary to intervene with medication in the case of hypocrisy, with a normal course. However, if the dog shows excessive milk production or changes in behavior such as aggressiveness, medication can be used that inhibits the release of the hormone prolactin and thus the milk production. These prolactin inhibitors are only prescribed by the veterinarian and should only be administered with their consent. The benefits of frequently recommended homeopathic remedies such as Pulsatilla have not been scientifically proven.

Can you prevent hypocrisy?

No, an hypocrisy cannot be prevented. Often dogs that were once hypersensitive will show symptoms after the next heat. Neither homeopathic remedies nor clearing away toys or reducing food during and after heat can counteract the natural hormonal processes. The drastic reduction in the amount of feed is a tip that you still often get. For the sake of the health of the dog and a balanced nutrient supply, it should be avoided.

Another myth is to have the female dog documented once, that is to say to have it covered, in order to prevent later ill effects. There is no evidence that dogs that once had puppies are protected from hypocrisy.

Ultimately, only castration can prevent a female dog from becoming hypersensitive again. If your dog suffers from the consequences of the hypnotism, castration should be considered in consultation with the veterinarian.

Castration and hypocrisy

The castration of the female dog is the only measure to prevent an ill health. However, castration should not be carried out during the hypocrisy, but always in the hormonal resting phase, the so-called anestrus.

Summary on the topic of hypocrisy:

  • The hypocrisy is not a pathological, but a natural state that is triggered by hormonal processes
  • The pseudo-pregnancy is also called pseudo pregnancy or pseudo-motherhood
  • Hypnotism occurs 1-3 months after heat
  • The hypocrisy usually lasts 2-3 weeks
  • Typical signs are nesting behavior, collecting and “mothering” toys, a swollen suckling
  • As a rule, no veterinary treatment is necessary
  • Measures during the hypocrisy are clearing away toys and offering a lot of employment
  • It should be avoided that the bitch licks her eyes
  • You cannot prevent hypocrisy – only castration can prevent it

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