Nesting in Dogs

Why is my dog nesting?

Most common conditions

Mammary Gland Tumor / Breast Bacterial Infection / False Pregnancy in Female

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Rated as moderate conditon

2 Veterinary Answers

Most common conditions

Mammary Gland Tumor / Breast Bacterial Infection / False Pregnancy in Female

Why is my dog nesting?

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What is Nesting?

Wild dogs that are close to delivering their litter will dig to create a safe and warm den.  It is a maternal instinct to provide a safe environment for her litter.  If you find your dog digging inside closets, trying to make a “den” under a bed, ripping blankets and excessively grooming, she may be nesting.   Reasons your dog is nesting may be:

  • Your dog is close to delivering her puppies
  • False pregnancy
  • Hypothyroidism 
  • Mastitis

Nesting can be a normal and natural process if a dog is pregnant.  If the dog is not pregnant, nesting may be caused by a serious underlying condition.

Why Nesting Occurs in Dogs

Pregnancy

You may not be aware that the last time your dog was in estrus she became pregnant. Your dog may be nesting because she is close to delivering puppies. If there are small children in the household they should be supervised while they are with the “mother to be”. Dogs that are pregnant can get very protective and additionally, she may not be feeling well.

False Pregnancy

 

False pregnancy in dogs occurs to females that are not spayed. Pseudocyesis is another term for false pregnancy. False pregnancy occurs when the dog is in estrus and her progesterone levels increase. The higher levels of progesterone can trigger the hormone prolactin to be produced. The hormone prolactin enables female mammals to produce milk. The hormones progesterone and prolactin will cause physical changes to your dog such as weight gain, abdominal distention, mammary gland enlargement and mammary gland secretions.  

Your dog can also experience behavior changes such as moodiness, lethargic, aggression, restlessness and whimpering. She may even carry a stuffed toy around and treat it like a puppy. Your dog is nesting because she believes that she is having puppies. 

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroxine (thyroid hormone). Thyroxine is a hormone which normally helps regulate the rate the body burns calories. Hypothyroidism can cause erratic estrus cycles, which can trigger the body to have a false pregnancy. Hypothyroidism can also cause weight gain. 

Dogs predisposed to hypothyroidism include Mastiffs, Dalmatians, Huskies, Rottweilers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Border Collies, Weimaraners and Malteses. 

Mastitis

Mastitis is the inflammation of the mammary glands. Mammary glands can get swollen and inflamed due to infected ducts. Swollen mammary glands may also be caused by tumors. The swollen mammary glands can make a dog think she is pregnant and nesting occurs.

What to do if your Dog is Nesting

If your dog is nesting she should be seen by a veterinarian. The veterinarian will help determine if your dog is pregnant or if she is having a false pregnancy.  The doctor will perform a physical exam and. he may also recommend a complete blood count (CBC) and an abdominal ultrasound. If your dog is having a false pregnancy the veterinarian may recommend diuretics and mild sedatives. The medication Bromocriptine may help decrease milk production.

If your dog was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, she will need a daily dose of the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine.  Once the medication therapy is started, your dog will need to be on the synthetic hormone for the rest of her life.

Mastitis may be treated with anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics. Warm compresses on the glands may help relieve the discomfort of the swollen mammary glands. Tumors may need to be surgically removed. Patients that are diagnosed with malignant tumors may need chemotherapy and radiation treatments. 

If your dog is pregnant she will be prescribed nutritional supplements. The veterinarian may want to test her for parasites and worms, which can be transmitted to the puppies. Most dogs are pregnant for 58 to 64 days. When the puppies are born, the mother may show aggressive behavior toward people and animals. Small children and any additional pets in the household should not be allowed near the puppies. The aggressive behavior usually disappears within a few weeks after delivery. Puppies are usually weaned in 6 to 7 weeks but should stay with the mother until they are at least 12 weeks of age. 

Prevention

Spaying your dog will help prevent a surprise pregnancy and false pregnancies. Additionally, spaying your dog may also prevent uterine infections and breast tumors.  Yearly wellness checks are recommended, to ensure your dog is healthy and up to date on her vaccinations. Many health conditions may not be prevented but they can be diagnosed and treated in the early stages.

Prevention of Nesting

Spaying your dog will help prevent a surprise pregnancy and false pregnancies. Additionally, spaying your dog may also prevent uterine infections and breast tumors.  Yearly wellness checks are recommended, to ensure your dog is healthy and up to date on her vaccinations. Many health conditions may not be prevented but they can be diagnosed and treated in the early stages.

Cannanine

Cost of Nesting

Treatment cost for the symptom will vary depending on what is the underlying cause of your dog’s nesting. For example, the cost of treating a false pregnancy may be $250 while the cost of medical care for hypothyroidism can be around $1300.

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Nesting Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Cheeky

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Maltese x

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sleeping

I’m certain my 2 year old Maltese Shih Tzu mix is nesting due to a false pregnancy. But she is NOT in estrus. That ended about 3 months ago. Is it safe to get her spayed while she’s going through nesting. This has been going on for 2 days. She’s not lactating. I cannot get her spayed for 2 weeks. Thank you for any advice. My vet is closed and I’m very concerned. Based on what I’ve read I can tell you, she hasn’t gained wait, her glands aren’t swollen , she’s not aggressive or larthegic. She is carrying her toys around like puppies , whining , looking for a place to put them. She’s bathing them , protecting them ( mildly not aggressively) and she’s putting them in her stomach area like she’s nursing. Thanks for any advice.

July 7, 2018

Cheeky's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Three months after estrous is a little long afterwards to be a typical false pregnancy which typically occurs six to eight weeks afterwards; maternal behaviour may occur due to contact with either a new litter of pups, an intact male or other causes. There should be no concerns regarding spaying, but you should discuss this with your Veterinarian as they will perform a thorough examination before hand to ensure there are no underlying medical issues (ovarian cysts, tumours etc....). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/condition/maternal-behavior-problems

July 8, 2018

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Brandy Wine

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Red nose Pitt bull

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7 years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Nesting

I have an older female Pitt bull mox, not entirely sure of he breed as she was a rescue but leaning towards rednose/shar pei mix. She's around 7 years old and has been spayed for at least half of her life if not longer. The last 24 hours I've noticed that she is "nesting" in my laundry basket. Curious as to what may cause this.

Oct. 13, 2017

Brandy Wine's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Firstly the main question is did she have a full ovariohysterectomy or ovarian sparing spay? If there is still some ovarian tissue left over (either from an ovarian sparing spay or ovarian remnant syndrome) it may causes some strange behaviour at any point during her life. It would be best to check in with your Veterinarian to make sure that there isn’t any ovarian tissue left over causing this behaviour. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Oct. 13, 2017

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Muffy

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cockapoo

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Panting,Crying,Nesting,Constipation

My poor baby is panting, crying, nesting, has milk coming out and seems to be constipated. Took her to the vet March 12, he said she was bloated so just gave her a shot for pain and inflammation(fluid administration subcutaneous and dexameth. SP 4mg/ml Dexameth. 2mg/ml) she’s still the same so took her back today March 16 and now he said it was false pregnancy. He gave her pain medication (tramadol 50mg) And (enema) so she can poop. I don’t know what to do. I’m confused.

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Chloe

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Miniature Pinscher

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Whining
Howling
Howling, Whining, Nesting

Chloe was spayed and had a hernia repaired about 2 weeks ago, she was nesting and whining before but now it’s ALOT worse, now she has started to howl along with it and grooming the stuffed animals (her babies) a lot more, the howl and whining is not of one in pain from surgery it has a sadness to it like she’s longing for something. Is this normal or will this go away with time? Since she was already a mature dog I’m sure she still has some hormones in her system, if I’m right and this is the case how long will it take for the hormones to get out of her system, it saddens me but gets on my husbands nerves coz she wakes him up at all hours of the night doing all of this.

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Millie

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Pit bull

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Constipation
Sleepy
Nesting

My dog is a pit and we believe pig mix and she is a rescue so we aren’t sure, we are also not sure of her age, but we assume she’s is around 2. But she keeps nesting under beds and trying to get in box springs. She is not pregnant because we have had her for over three months and she has not had any other symptoms related to pregnancy other than her nipples being out and but not producing anything. She has also been very clingy when she sleeps. As well as trying to fight our other female dog when our male dog is let out (while the girls are inside). The female and male dogs are always kept apart so it’s not likely she’s pregnant. She also chews on everything even though she has a chew toy. We recently scheduled her an appointment with a vet and are waiting to find out what is wrong.

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Ruby

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hound mix

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15 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Deaf, Anxious

15-year-old beagle/hound mix was spayed at 12 weeks. Whereas she will tear apart any other stuffed toy, for the past 10-plus years she has carefully carried a stuffed toy huskie by the neck. She builds nests daily out of blankets (even on a made bed), laundry, newspapers, whatever she can get her paws on. Hides "her" puppy, too. She is never aggressive. She does not lactate or "nurse" the toy. Sometimes she leaves it on our bed as though to say, "I've had enough of this pup! Can you help a sister out?" It seems to be all in her imagination. She especially craves our attention when she has the puppy. We praise her for being a "good mommy." I'm not worried. Should I be?

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Kiera

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Siberian Husky

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10 Months

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Whining, Nesting

Nesting behaviour in recently spayed female My 10month old Husky x Collie was spayed two weeks ago - I believe with a full hysterectomy - and is now restless, whining, grooming her toys and carrying them to safe places, finding small spaces eg between lounge chair and corner bookshelves. No aggression - just clingy to me.

Cannanine