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Ask the Veterinarian/My dog has suddenly turned possessive towards her toys/bowl


Hello Doctor,

My 4.8 year old female cocker spaniel Ibby, was spayed 6 months after the vet recommended it. She's been playful, if a little obnoxious and occasionally snappy.

However, her behaviour has suddenly changed in the last month while she was staying at my parents' - she has begun to guard her food bowl, toys, stuff she finds, even trash (even a plastic bag or  a cabbage leaf).

Her new vet says that's because she is experiencing a ghost pregnancy/motherhood. Is it possible? And, if it is, how long does this last? And how am i supposed to help her? She has become really weird and aggressive trying to bite anyone who touches her bowl or anything/toy she takes fancy to.

Please help.

Your new vet is correct. She was spayed rather late in life so she is going through some hormonal changes. These usually stop after about a month or so but some dogs continue on this way if they don't get some medical help.

She may need to be put on some hormones for a short time. I would consult the new vet and ask if there is anything that can be done(chemically) since she is getting aggressive which is dangerous.

This behavior cannot continue. There are many safe drugs out there that can be used short term to help her over this period and will treat either the cause or will help with behavioral changes.

Call your vet and ask for a consultation regarding this problem. Your vet is there to help with this, so take advantage of that.

p.s. I am not a doctor. I am a registered Vet Tech so I cannot and do not diagnose. I can only help with suggestions for you.

So please call your new vet and ask for some help with this problem.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.


Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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