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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 15573
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My general question is Can a dog produce milk if she is not

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My general question is: Can a dog produce milk if she is not pregnant? We have a 4 yr. old shih-tzu mix that has never had puppies and is producing milk. We also got a new puppy about 1 1/2 mo ago that has sucked on her quite often as though she is his mother. He is 3 1/2 mo old now and not doing it as much but she definitely has milk.

Dr. Kara :

Hello, I'd like to help.

Dr. Kara :

Dogs that are not spayed can absolutely produce milk without being pregnant. Especially if they have the stimulation and maternal feelings for a young pup.

Customer:

Thank you for that answer. Do you think I should have a pregnancy test done on her anyway?

Dr. Kara :

Usually this occurs with a false pregnancy. Dogs produce the same hormones and are basically the same after a heat bred or not.
If they are not bred the hormones decrease and if there isn't any stimulation they are normal. But the hormones also drop with a pregnant dog in preparation for pup delivery and milk production.
If she has something to mother and a suckling pup then she will produce milk.
How long has this been going on?

Dr. Kara :

When was her last heat cycle?
Pregnancy in a dog is about 63 days, a little over 2 months. If she's producing milk and she's truly pregnant then she should be huge with puppies now.
If she's been producing milk for 6 weeks then I would think she would have delivered by now.

Customer:

Almost 2 months and we just noticed that she looked full and she is producing milk. So haven't noticed her producing milk for very long

Dr. Kara :

So it is possible that she is pregnant.
Given her stage I would recommend taking radiographs of her abdomen. Puppy skeletons calcify after 45 to 50 days. So you'd confirm or disprove pregnancy. And if she is pregnant you'd know how many pups to expect.

Dr. Kara :

Is there a male available? Or would a dog have to jump a fence, really unlikely that she was bred?

Customer:

I/m not sure when she was in heat last as she keeps herself clean and I don't usually know. I did bring her in around the 1st of March and had asked our vet then if she could be pregnant as her nipples were enlarged but she wasn't producing milk then and we had the puppy about 2 weeks by then. She does go out into the neighborhood to eliminate so it is possible that she is.

Dr. Kara :

With that history I would have radiographs done. Pregnancy is possible. It's just strange that she's not been pregnant before.
If I had to guess I'd guess false pregnancy but without checking you won't know and you want to be prepared for pups for sure!

Customer:

Thanks very much. I think it is a false pregnancy but will had her checked at the vet. She looks big around the belly but not overly so hard to tell that way.

Dr. Kara :

It can be tough especially if there is only one pup.
So I think a check-up is the way to go. If this is a false pregnancy she's likley to have them with subsequent heats. If you want to avoid this have her spayed.
Can I answer anything else?

Customer:

That answers all my questions. You've been very helpful. Thanks again.

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