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Dogs/Canine false pregnancy


Hello Patti, just have read your article on dogs pregnancies and wanted to clarify if a dog can be sprayed while she is pregnant?  If yes, would it be a complicated operation? Our choc lab girl is 11 months, her first heat lasted 3 week and finished 6-7 weeks ago during which she developed swollen nipples which haven't reduced and seemed to got bigger. There are some other pregnancy - false or real one - symptoms like increased appetite and frequent urination plus unusual "grooming" in the lower abdomen area, and she also threw up her food 3-4 times during the last few weeks.  We also observed 1 nipple got slightly red and more swollen and perhaps itchy. We have been watching her carefully during the heat, but could have missed her pre heat condition (I read somewhere dogs can mate shortly before heat) when we left her at a dog crèche for a few times.  We do not plan to breed and wanted to get her sprayed but the vet advised to do so 8 weeks after the heat ended. However, technically, she would either have given birth by now or she is very due now, if she got pregnant before the heat started.


Hi Shelly,

Spaying a dog while she is pregnant is called an abortion or a "pregnancy termination", and yes, it can be done. Spaying a dog during a pregnancy, unless very close to term, does not pose significantly elevated risks to the dog over and above any standard surgery.

While a dog is having symptoms of a false pregnancy she should not be spayed. Spaying may actually prolong the false pregnancy. If your dog is having a false pregnancy, it's best to wait about 3 months so that her hormone levels return to normal, and then have her spayed. If a dog undergoes spay surgery during the time when progesterone levels are high (such as during a false pregnancy), the sudden drop in progesterone following surgery may cause false pregnancy symptoms to continue. This drop can cause prolactin levels to increase too, causing milk production, despite the fact she has been spayed. This is a normal response to the hormone changes brought upon by the surgery.

Your vet would be able to confirm if your dog is late in a real pregnancy. If your dog is having symptoms of a false pregnancy for more than 3 weeks, your vet might be able to end it with hormonal medications. Either way, your dog should be spayed.

I hope I've been a help.
Best of luck,



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To date, I've owned 7 dogs, all of which have lived into old age. Having cared for them in all stages of life, I feel I can offer sound advice to other pet owners, and people considering getting a dog. I am knowledgeable about the AKC (American Kennel Club) dog breeds, training and exercise, caring for sick and elderly pets, feeding, as well as many holistic treatments pets can benefit from. My only request is that you write me using standard English and punctuation.


My life experience in this field is more like "on the job training" rather than an actual degree in animal welfare. You may benefit from my experiences over the past 30 years. Aside from the dogs I've owned, I'm also involved in "breed rescue" and have fostered several dogs, all of which have been adopted to wonderful "forever homes". I find helping people who want a dog very rewarding.

Real life experience, based on over 30 years of dog ownership.

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