Sometimes, because of the way in which a female dog cycles, an English bulldog bitch may not get bred. This can result in pseudocyesis, more commonly known as false pregnancy. This phenomenon is fairly common in all dogs that are receptive to mating but do not get bred.
False pregnancies are believed to be caused by hormonal changes in the female dog during the reproductive cycle that cause progesterone levels to lower and prolactin levels to be stimulated. English bulldogs that suffer from hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) may experience changes in the blood that stimulate prolactin, which could also result in false pregnancy.
False Pregnancy Symptoms
Symptoms of a false pregnancy typically occur six to 12 weeks after the dog's last heat cycle. Some of the signs that the English bulldog bitch may exhibit are nesting behaviour, mothering of toys or other items, weight gain, mucoid vaginal discharge, swelling of the abdomen and mammary-gland enlargement that may or may not include secretion of milk or serous fluid.
A false pregnancy in a dog can closely mimic that of an actual pregnancy. However, in an actual pregnancy it is usually possible to feel distinct lumps in the uterus from the 28th to 35th day of gestation. After the 45th day, the puppies can usually be felt in the abdomen and a veterinarian most likely would be able to see them in an x-ray.
Symptoms usually diminish after a few weeks. Generally, it is not necessary to treat symptoms of false pregnancy in all dogs, including English bulldogs, unless they exhibit other signs of an illness. These include not eating, vomiting, vaginal discharge or depression/lethargy.
Recurring episodes of false pregnancy in English bulldogs is quite common, but most of the time, future episodes can be prevented by having a female bulldog spayed. Occasionally, dogs that are spayed when the progesterone level is high, during the reproductive cycle, can still have one additional false pregnancy.
A false pregnancy in dogs will not prevent them from being bred or interfere with future pregnancies.