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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 24379
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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My female Lab is panting, liking her genitals which seems to

Customer Question

My female Lab is panting, liking her genitals which seems to be red like in heat, lactating, seems warm,but wants to cover up, and panting
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 10 months ago.

Hi Sandy, thanks for your question.

It sounds like Heidi is intact. I have a few questions.

1) When was Heidi's last heat cycle?
2) Was she bred during this cycle?
3) Has she shown signs of nesting behavior?
4) Has she gained weight recently? Any expanded volume to her abdomen?
5) Is she indoor only or indoor/outdoor?
6) Have these symptoms persisted for a full 2 days at this time?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
She is a little early for her cycle to start, we expected mid February. She was not breed last cycle, I have not noticed nesting, just wanting to rest & panting, no weight gain, don't notice any abdominal expansion. She is basically indoor, outside to play or relieve herself. She has heavily panted for about 1 1/2 days.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 10 months ago.

I am going to opt out to allow another professional to step in for the evening.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 10 months ago.

I'll follow up for PitRottMommy for you. A lactating Heidi must be suffering from pseudocyesis (false pregnancy). This is characterized by different degrees of maternal behavior, mammary gland enlargement, and lactation. The timing of this needs to be re-examined. Her last estrus should have been 6-12 weeks earlier without an ensuing pregnancy. Chief complaints include abnormalities such as nesting, digging, adoption of animals or objects, depression or anxiety, anorexia, and excessive vocalization (whining). Hormonally speaking, this is associated with a high plasma concentration of prolactin (which assists in milk letdown) at the end of the luteal phase (follicles that have ovulated become corpora lutea) when progesterone concentrations decrease abruptly.

Pseudocyesis can be treated with dopamine agonists such as cabergoline but it typically resolves spontaneously within 2-3 weeks from its onset but can occasionally persist until the next estrous cycle. I need to conjecture that Heidi has been falsely pregnant for quite some time and just recently worsened. She might now be entering proestrus - the stage prior to estrus/heat - which would be curative. Please note, too, that pyometra (infected uterus) can coexist with pseudocyesis and so it would be prudent to have Heidi's vet attend to Heidi at this time if only because of Heidi's excessive panting.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Thank you. We took Heidi to her vet. All is well. You put my mind at ease and let us know our next step was a visit to Heidi's Doctor.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

Thank you for the good update. I appreciate your taking the time to let me know.