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Phantom Pregnancy: Key Facts for Dachshund owners

When is it seen?

Usually seen within 2 months following a season. Tends to last a bit longer than a ‘real’ pregnancy. (Known as Dioestrus)

DID YOU KNOW: every bitch will think they are having puppies? Sometimes symptoms are unnoticeable, other times they may show physical and behavioural signs.

Physical signs are often:

  • Nipple and mammary gland enlargement (particularly bottom pair;

  • Milk or watery discharge from nipples;

  • Vulva remains larger but not as big as it was during the season.

Behavioural signs include: (Usually at their worst 7-10 weeks post-season)

  • Nesting and seeking out quiet areas;

  • Very affectionate;

  • Clingy;

  • Going off their food;

  • Mood swings;

  • More fearful behaviours especially to strange humans or dogs coming into the home;

  • Gathering of items – often toys or socks.

What can you do?

  • Increase exercise;

  • Cut back on food slightly;

  • Give her space;

  • Try and deter nesting behaviours;

Do you need a vet?

As long as your bitch appears healthy, does not have any abnormal discharge from her vulva, appear unwell in herself or have excessive amounts of milk they should be fine. However, if you are concerned about your dog’s health in any way always speak to a vet. They can give medication to help stop milk production.


Pyometra – is a serious and potentially fatal womb infection. Every owner of an entire bitch should be aware of this. It is only seen during the Dioestrus or ‘phantom’ stage.

It is a medical emergency. It may result in an emergency spay. And no, it cannot wait to see a vet! Some vets are using medication to treat it now in its earlier stages but mostly the treatment is neutering. It is diagnosed by an ultrasound scan.

Signs and symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Lethargy,

  • Refusal to eat;

  • Vomiting;

  • Distended abdomen;

  • Diarrhoea;

  • Enlarged or flaccid vulva;

  • On occasion foul-smelling discharge from vulva (in cases of an open pyo, not seen in a closed pyo);

  • Excessive water drinking and urinating.

Sometimes symptoms are minimal or mild until the later stages of infection. If you suspect it, please get them checked.

It is most common in bitches over 6 years old but is seen younger. It is still less common than IVDD, so please read our neutering research before deciding to neuter your dachshund before 18 months unless on medical grounds (such as pyometra).

For more detailed information on your bitches cycle please visit Dachshund Health UK.


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