Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
Why Is My Dog Whining and Having Such Bad Separation Anxiety?
"I have a 7-month-old boxer-terrier mix who loves to hunt but has never been. She just started carrying her favorite squeaky toy (which I bought her when she was very young) around and whining, and she acts very confused. Only when I sit down beside her and hold the toy in my lap does she calm down. But as soon as I get up, she starts again.
I have tried to calm her with other toys, but nothing works. She also has separation anxiety. She hasn't been spayed yet, but I put diapers on her when she was in heat and kept her close to me. She shows no other signs of false pregnancy.
She is my world, and it's very frustrating to see her go through this! Please help. What can I do to reassure her that everything is okay?" —Carrie
False Pregnancy in Dogs
How long ago was your puppy in heat? If it was about 6 weeks to two months ago, carrying around that toy may be a symptom of false pregnancy.
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Although most dogs with false pregnancy also have other signs (enlarged mammary glands, milk production, periodic vomiting, and nesting behavior), sometimes all they do is carry around a toy and whine. In one study, 96% of dogs with false pregnancy carried around a toy. (1)
Anxious Behavior in Dogs
It is also possible that this is just a sign of anxiety. Dogs have many different forms of anxious behavior. I cannot tell for sure without seeing her, but it sounds more like your dog is anxious than experiencing a false pregnancy.
How to Help an Anxious Dog Calm Down
Some anxious dogs need to be on medicine to help. There are a lot of other things to try first; I would recommend you go through that list and try to find something that will work with her.
Don't give up too soon. The reason that there are so many alternatives for reducing anxiety in dogs is that not all of them work all of the time.
(1) Root AL, Parkin TD, Hutchison P, Warnes C, Yam PS. Canine pseudopregnancy: an evaluation of prevalence and current treatment protocols in the UK. BMC Vet Res. 2018 May 24;14(1):170. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968611/
This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2022 Dr Mark