My dog Ruby has been diagnosed to have symptoms of false pregnancy. Please tell me about this condition, and what should I do? – Antara, Mumbai

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Phantom or false pregnancy are not uncommon in unneutered female dogs and occurs generally about 70-80 days after the start of her season. Symptoms vary from mild to severe and may include, some or all of the following: reluctance to eat, nest making, nursing or guarding inanimate objects (toy, etc), swollen mammary glands, milk production, general distress, nervous signs including panting and breathlessness and change in temperament (some may snap). The good news is that Ruby should be back to normal in 2-3 weeks time, however, there are few things which you can do to help her. To reduce milk production, reduce water intake slightly and feed less carbohydrates and increase exercise. Remove the toys/objects, which she’s nursing, and remove her bed during the day so that she can’t nest. If the symptoms are severe and these actions don’t seem to help, then it may be necessary for your vet to give her some hormone/medical therapy in form of tablets or injections. Your vet might even suggest a mild sedative if she is very distressed. As she has already had one false pregnancy, she may more likely to have others and may experience more severe symptoms. I would suggest that you discuss with your vet the pros and cons of neutering (spaying) if you are not planning to breed from her.

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