Canine pseudopregnancy: an evaluation of prevalence and current treatment protocols in the UK

Root, A. L., Parkin, T. D. , Hutchison, P., Warnes, C. and Yam, P. S. (2018) Canine pseudopregnancy: an evaluation of prevalence and current treatment protocols in the UK. BMC Veterinary Research, 14, 170. (doi: 10.1186/s12917-018-1493-1) (PMID:29793494) (PMCID:PMC5968611)

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Background: There is a dearth of literature on pseudopregnancy in the bitch, with only a few treatment-based studies published since the 1990s. Pseudopregnancy may be under-recognised in bitches and may account for a proportion of behavioural cases seen in veterinary practices including aggression. Little is known about commonly used treatments for overtly pseudopregnant bitches and it is possible that current regimes may not be prescribed for a sufficient duration to control any clinical signs including, physical and behavioural changes. To investigate current trends in diagnosis and treatment of canine pseudopregnancy, a postal survey was sent to 2000 randomly selected veterinary surgeons in UK veterinary practices. The questionnaire queried how often vets recognise cases of pseudopregnancy in spayed and entire bitches, which physical or behavioural signs are commonly recognised for diagnosis, and which management or treatment protocols are used. Results: The response rate was 19.8% (397/2000). Ninety-six percent of veterinary surgeons reported seeing pseudopregnant bitches showing behavioural changes without any physical changes within the last 12 months. Of those behavioural changes, collecting and mothering objects was the most frequently reported behavioural sign (96%). Ninety-seven percent of vets had seen aggression in pseudopregnant bitches. Nevertheless, only 52% of vets routinely asked owners about behavioural changes during consultations. Forty-nine percent of respondents reported seeing pseudopregnancy in spayed bitches. The most commonly reported physical sign was enlarged mammary glands and/or milk production (89%). Treatment options varied (surgical, medical or none) and depended on duration and severity of physical and behavioural signs, owners’ preference, cost, concurrent disease, drug availability and previous history. Conclusions: This is the largest epidemiological study of canine pseudopregnancy in the UK. The prevalence and severity of clinical signs in dogs with pseudopregnancy are variable and possibly under-estimated. Dogs with overt pseudopregnancy experience diverse physical and behavioural changes and information on standard treatment protocols are lacking. Although, progress on our understanding of diagnosis and treatment of pseudopregnancy in spayed and entire bitches has been made, further studies are warranted.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding was obtained through the University of Glasgow, School of Veterinary Medicine and CEVA Animal Health LTD.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hutchison, Mrs Pippa and Parkin, Prof Timothy and Yam, Dr Philippa
Authors: Root, A. L., Parkin, T. D., Hutchison, P., Warnes, C., and Yam, P. S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:BMC Veterinary Research
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN (Online):1746-6148
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in BMC Veterinary Research 14: 170
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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