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What is a "false pregnancy" in dogs? (The homestead dog).

A friend took her Australian Shepherd to the vet for yearly shots. The vet told her that he believed the dog had had a false pregnancy and if that was the case she would need to be spayed. Being a consumate professional, the vet did not explain what a false pregnancy was or why it required spaying. The dog is over two years old and has never given birth.

From Merek's Vet Manual: False Pregnancy in Bitches (Pseudopregnancy, Pseudocyesis)

"False pregnancy is common in bitches, uncommon in queens (female cats). It occurs at the end of diestrus and is characterized by hyperplasia of the mammary glands, lactation, and behavior changes. Some bitches behave as if paturition has occurred, "mothering" by nesting inanimate objects, and refusing to eat. The history, abdominal palpulation, and abdominal radiographs/untrasonograph excluding the possibility of true pregnancy.

"The falling progesterone and increasing prolactin concentrations associated with late diestrus are believed to be responsible for the clinical signs. No treatment is recommended because the condition resolves spontaneously in one to three weeks. Tranquilizers may be considered for bitches with significant behavioral changes, although some may increase prolactin release. Estrogens should not be used because of the potential for bone marrow suppression. Progentins usually stop lactation, but when they are discontinued, prolactin again increases and lactation may recur. Androgens could be considered to stop lactation. If owners are distressed by repeated bouts of pseudopregnancy, the bitch should either be bred or undergo ovariohysterctomy. Ovariohysterectomy prevents recurrence."

The vet's recommendation was probably more for your sake, rather than the dog's.

--Ken Scharabok

For better health, get a pet

lt might be the prescription of the future: Take two aspirin and get a pet immediately.

Numerous studies have shown that pets can have medical benefits that are beyond dispute. These range from lowering blood pressure to lessening anxiety and depression and even to faster healing times after surgery.

"We have known for many years that the company of a pet can be of benefit in a variety of ways, but exactly why this is, no one seems to have the answer," says Dr. Bonnie Beaver, who specializes in animal behavior and human-animal relationships at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

The long-term survival rates of heart attack victims who had a pet have been shown to be significantly longer than for those who did not. There is also data showing that widows who have cats are better off medically during the first year, which is a critical stress time, than widows who do not.

Other studies have shown that:

* Senior adults who own dogs go to the doctor less than those who do not. In a study of 100 Medicare patients, those who owned dogs made 21% fewer visits to a physician than non-dog owners;

* Pet owners have lower blood pressure, and one study showed that just 10 minutes in the company of an animal significantly reduced blood pressure rates;

* Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than nonowners;

* Pet owners have overall better physical health due to exercise with their pets;

* 70% of families surveyed reported an increase in family happiness and fun after acquiring a pet;

* Children exposed to pets during their first year of life have a lower frequency of some allergies and asthma;

* Children who suffer from autism have more prosocial behaviors if they own a pet;

* Owning a pet--especially a dog--helps children in families better adjust to the serious illness or death of a parent;

* Pets decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation in their owners;

* Having a pet may decrease heart attack mortality rates by 3%, which translates into 30,000 lives saved annually;

* Positive self-esteem in children is enhanced if the child owns a pet;

* Children owning pets are more likely to be involved in sports, hobbies, clubs or even chores;

* Victims of AIDS who own a pet report less depression and reduced stress levels.

Many groups take pets to visit residents of nursing homes, and usually the experience is a very positive one for both the pet and the individual.

"Many people in nursing homes had pets all of their lives, but for several reasons, are not allowed to in an extended-care facility," says Dr. Beaver.

"The tendency is to make those places `sterile,' with minimal plants or animals. Those who bring in nature of all kinds generally bring in a better quality of life to their residents."

We don't really understand why pets make us feel better and in some cases, add years to our own lives. Different people get different benefits from the animal, and even different benefits at different stages in the person's life.

-- Texas A&M University
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Author:Scharabok, Ken
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Mar 1, 2002
Previous Article:Nest boxes in floor can save space ... and babies. (The rabbit barn).
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