If you have a female cockapoo who has not been spayed, there is a strong possibility that she will go through a phantom pregnancy during her lifetime. If this is a term you’ve never heard of before, let me explain. Phantom pregnancies are when bitches behave like they are pregnant and go through the physical and behavioural changes associated with pregnancy, even when pregnancy is impossible.
Fortunately, this never happens to spayed bitches and while it is not very common for unspayed cockapoo bitches to experience one, it is still best that you educate yourself about it. In the following post, we are going to look at how to identify a phantom pregnancy, the signs of one and what you can do about it.
How to Identify That Your Cockapoo is Having a Phantom Pregnancy
The first thing you need to do is rule out the chance that your cockapoo could in fact be genuinely pregnant. Figure out when she last had a season and think carefully about whether or not she has been in contact with a dog that hasn’t been neutered. It may also be a good idea to take your dog along to your vet’s to have her examined physically and given an ultrasound to rule out genuine pregnancy.
Some of the common symptoms of a phantom pregnancy include:
- Making a den or bed and other nesting behaviour like she believes she is getting ready to deliver phantom puppies
- Gaining weight around her stomach
- Enlarged nipples that are possibly producing milk or colostrum
- Behavioural changes like anxiety or clinginess
- Treating toys and other items around the house as babies and protecting them the way she would her real puppies
Why Do Bitches Experience Phantom Pregnancies?
A bitch’s whole lifecycle is driven by her hormones and it’s the very same hormones that bring on a season that also make her want to breed and reproduce.
When cockapoo bitches like other dogs go through a season without any pregnancies, their hormone levels that were priming their bodies and emotions for giving birth to a litter drop off until it’s close to their next season. That is what should happen. Sometimes, though, it takes longer to happen, which triggers the desire and expectation they are born with to reproduce and have litters. Birches that have had at least one or more litters of puppies are more prone to experiencing phantom pregnancies than those that have never bred before. However, this is just general. It is not a condition that is exclusive to those bitches that have already had a litter.
How to Diagnose Phantom Pregnancies
Although most phantom pregnancies indeed come and go with little to no serious issues, as they can be incredibly stressful for both you and your bitch, it’s best to take them to the vet anyway. This way they can assess whether there are any underlying problems and make sure there is no real pregnancy. Blood tests or urinalysis is normally the way that vets check for proof of a real pregnancy. However, your vet may also use an ultrasound or an x-ray to rule it out.
How to Deal With Phantom Pregnancies
Unfortunately, there is only so much you can do to help your cockapoo bitch when she is experiencing phantom pregnancies. These normally run their course and stop once their hormone levels have returned to normal. One of the biggest issues with phantom pregnancies is the production of milk, which can be messy and also extend the length of the phantom pregnancies last. In these situations, you can use a buster collar or maybe even put your cockapoo in a t-shirt to stop them from licking their nipples.
You may also want to consider having your cockapoo bitch spayed as this will be the best way to prevent them from ever happening again. Other than these suggestions, we would recommend you try to be kind, loving, and patient and distract your cockapoo bitch to stop her nesting and doing anything else associated with phantom pregnancies.
You are also best contacting your vet who will be able to make suggestions about how you can make it more comfortable and less distressing for your dog.