A dog will lactate despite not being pregnant when they are experiencing a false pregnancy. This is something which is usually caused by a hormonal imbalance. Specifically it is believed that reduced progesterone and increased prolactin levels lead to symptoms of false pregnancy.
Why Is My Dog Lactating After Being Spayed?
It is not uncommon for dogs to experience significant behavioural changes after they have been spayed.
If a dog is spayed at a time in their heat cycle when their progesterone levels are high then the instant progesterone drop which will come following their surgery can cause a false pregnancy.
Your dog’s body will respond to the sudden drop in progesterone levels by increasing their output of the prolactin hormone which stimulate the mammary glands to produce milk.
These changes in hormones are similar to what a female dog would go through when she gives birth.
Typically this sort of lactation will last for up to three weeks after the operation before stopping. If it lasts longer than this then you should contact your veterinarian for advice.
False Pregnancy & Lactation In Unspayed Dogs
Lactation due to a false pregnancy may also occur in an unspayed dog who is experiencing a hormone imbalance. Typically this will happen between six to twelve weeks after your dogs heart cycle has finished.
One of the most effective ways to prevent false pregnancies in unspayed dogs is to get them spayed. Failure to get them spayed means that they are likely to have another false pregnancy when their hormone cycle repeats itself.
Other Signs Of False Pregnancy
As well as producing milk your dog may show other signs which are typical for a pregnant dog to show. These include being more tired than usual, loss of appetite, sickness, weight gain and mammary gland growth.
Your dog may show only one or two of these signs of she may show all of them, this will make it difficult to ascertain if the pregnancy is genuine or not.
How Can You Be Certain That Your Dog’s Pregnancy Is False?
In an unspayed female dog there is always a chance that their lactation is a sign of a real pregnancy, if your dog has definitely not had any contact with other dogs then it is safe to be certain that she is not pregnant however it is not always that simple.
The easiest way to confirm whether or not a pregnancy is false from the comfort of your own home is to use a canine pregnancy testing kit:
Your vet can also confirm whether or not the pregnancy is false by conducting a physical examination which may include blood tests and scans.
Lactation Due To Mammary Stimulation
Another reason why your dog may lactate when she is not pregnant is if her mammary glands are stimulated by another animal sucking or kneading the nipple area. In rare cases this stimulation may cause female dogs to lactate and produce milk.
How To Stop Your Dog From Lactating
It takes a lot of energy to produce milk so an effective way to stop your dog from lactating is to reduce their food and water quantities for three to four days, you should notice that the milk quickly stops. When it has completely stopped you should be able to return to normal feeding and drinking levels without any problems.
If your dog is self stimulating by licking their mammary area then try using a recovery collar to prevent them from doing this.