Tuesday, December 07, 2010

False Pregnancy: No Pups for Kenya (this time)

No pups for Kenya.  :o (

No crow for me (I was right).  :o )

Today is Day 50 counted from the date of Kenya's tie with Tuc, and if she were carrying puppies, their spines and skulls would be visible on an x-ray by now.

I looked at her x-rays tonight (her vet appointment was about 2 hours ago). Dr. Wagner even put the current x-ray side-by-side with the x-ray from her last litter up for me to compare.

Trust me: there are no puppies showing in the x-ray. Her abdominal cavity looks just as it should (no expansion anywhere; no evidence of pups anywhere).


It appears Kenya is going through a "false pregnancy" (a very real condition in canines, and cows, and other mammals). In dogs its technical term is "canine pseudocyesis" (for a brief summary of the clinical condition, click here to view an abstract at the NIH  or this article written by a vet at petmed).

A false pregnancy quite explains both Kenya's psychological and physiological changes as well as my suspicion that she wasn't "with puppy."

Basically, the best way I can describe it is this: Kenya's body and mind are tricking her into thinking she's pregnant. She's already gained weight, she's losing hair around her nipples, and she's acting like she did when she was pregnant last time (psychologically). She may even lactate (develop milk in her mammary glands), develop engorged teats, nest, and try to mother toys or rolled socks (I hope she doesn't do this; that would be really sad to watch).

But she is not pregnant.

Apparently the condition is quite common in in-tact female dogs (though we've never gone through it with one of our girls before). And symptoms should only last a few weeks (might be inconvenient for us, but won't harm her). No worries.

We still have every reason to believe Kenya will be able to have puppies again as we'd planned (in about six months). It's all good.

Am I disappointed. Of course!  How could I not be ? (Puppies are puppies and always a gift, no matter the timing.)

But I have to admit I'm relieved, too.

I get to keep my kitchen for the holidays (whelping and puppy raising take over our kitchen for over two months with each litter).  I get to rest completely when I have to recover from my oral surgery next week (no puppy demands).  I get to sleep every night for the couple of weeks around Christmas (I would normally be doing night-shift on puppy watch if we had a litter).

So it's all good.

Kenya gets to think she's pregnant and pretend she's pregnant without any of the work or mess. And I get to stay human for the holiday season!

Chalk it up to another learning experience compliments of our canine crew.

And instead of chronicling another litter, now I can devote a bit more time to writing about the other doggies and our lives spent with them

That, too, can be quite fun (and quite silly). Just wait and see. Another of  Chessie's antics is up next (this one is sure to make you smile).  You can look for that entry in a day or two.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy Kenya's extra snuggles and our momentary reprieve.

And I'll try really hard to resist saying "I told you so."  Thpppppt!

'Til next time,

Monday, December 06, 2010

Of Kenya and Eating Crow

Call me a holdout. Or blind. Or stubbornly marooned in Denial Land.

I'm just not convinced Kenya is pregnant.

Let me qualify: I'm definitely not convinced she's a lot pregnant.  She might be a little pregnant, but she's definitely not a lot pregnant.

I'll bet Regular Reader didn't realize one could be a little pregnant.

Okay, maybe just in LabTails Land. :)

What I mean is that I really don't think Kenya is carrying several puppies if she's pregnant at all (her last litter, after one tie, had nine puppies).  She's just not that big.

Her size, however, could be deceiving, and size isn't the only indicator of pregnancy in canines.

Kenya is also losing hair, and not like a normal shed; she's losing hair (ack!) around her nipples (a natural process preparing Kenya's body for puppy suckles).

I think I can see visible teats now, too (something we haven't seen since several weeks after we weaned her last litter). I'm not sure, though. What do you think?

Do you see teats above (picture was taken about an hour ago)? Maybe I'm just noticing something that's always there, but not shouting for my attention the way they do now because I'm not normally wondering about her condition. Maybe I'm seeing what I expect to see instead of what's real.

Here are a few other shots from this evening (what do you think?):

Kenya's behavior is changing, too: she sits sidesaddle; she's more snuggly again; she likes sleeping on the couch, she feisty with the rest of the canine crew -- all characteristics of a pregnant Kenya that aren't usually present when her hormones aren't raging.

In any case, Denial Land can only exist until tomorrow evening. Today is Day 49 from the day she tied with Tuc, so if she's got puppies in the oven their skulls and spines should be solidified enough now to show up on an x-ray (they usually recommend any time after 48 days). Tomorrow night, Day 50, is her scheduled x-ray to verify her pregnancy and, if confirmed, to count puppies in utero.

And the craziest part: if she is preggers, we'll be looking at puppies in about 10 days, give or take a couple days either way. Normal gestation is 60 days. (*Gasp* - where did November go?)

Oh, and did I mention that I'm scheduled for oral surgery on December 15th (tooth extraction, bone graft in my jaw, and a post implant)? Kenya could be whelping that day. Ack!

Well, I may as well be doing something while my mouth is full of gauze (hehe...oh my!).

I'm still not convinced, though. Kenya was an absolute hippo last time; she's wide now, but she's not huge and her belly isn't dropping.

She's certainly no hippo.

So maybe she's just a little pregnant. :)  That would be absolutely fine with me.

One way or t'other, we'll know in 24 hours.

And if we find out she is "with puppy," I'm completely prepared to *cough* eat crow.

Stay tuned. :)

Until tomorrow night (yes, I will post tomorrow night),