You understand the first few days of puppy life are essential. During this critical period, puppies rely heavily on their mother dog. Puppies are unable to control their temperature, so they need the warmth of their mother. They need a lot of nutrition from the milk of the mother.
A mother dog produces colostrum after the puppies are born. Colostrum is a type of milk that is packed with vitamins, electrolytes, antibodies, and other nutrients. Since puppies are born with very weak immune systems, the most significant thing the colostrum will impart is the antibodies. Whatever the mother dog is immune will pass through the colostrum to her puppies.
After the first 24 hours, the mother dog will produce regular milk.
But what can you do if your nursing dog does not produce milk that is enough for the whole litter? How can you help your dog and the puppies?
Mother dog is not producing milk for puppies, how can you help your nursing dog to produce more milk?
Let us explore some options for you.
1. Conduct an initial examination.
Ask yourself these general questions:
- Are there more puppies than teats?
- Could my dog be suffering from malnutrition?
- Could my dog be dehydrated?
- Could my dog be under stress from something other than the whelping?
- Could my dog’s teats be infected?
- Could my dog be having a hormonal imbalance?
- How long has my dog been nursing?
Let’s take a closer look at the issues for each of the questions.
Number of teats – Having a litter of 10-12 puppies is not unusual for a dog. Since dogs only have 8 nipples, during feeding, 2-4 puppies will automatically be unable to drink milk. Also, having at the same time eight puppies drinking from the teats could literally dry your nursing dog.
Malnutrition – pregnant dogs need to consume a lot to provide nutrition for her unborn puppies. She must have more nutrition after giving birth to recover from whelping and generate milk for her puppies. She will need as much as three or four times as much nutrition as she requires per day for this period alone.
If her weight suddenly drops during the nursing period, this means that she is not getting enough calories. So, make sure you monitor her weight.
Dehydration – whelping involves blood and other fluids leaving your dog’s body. Also, dogs don’t drink as much liquid as they should in particular. In addition, milk production needs moisture from the body of your nursing dog.
Stress – whelping or giving birth to puppies for a mother dog is already a stressful activity. For first-time mothers, this stress is doubled as the dog does not understand what to expect during the whelping.
No extra stress is needed for your dog. But she might get this from other things like a noisy environment or too many people around her and touching her puppies. That’s why her nest should be away from foot traffic in a quiet location.
Also, as stated above, she could be overwhelmed, irritated, or even frightened by the number of puppies trying to feed on her. Her reaction to these stressors could be to stop producing milk.
Infection – as stated above, whelping involves blood and other fluids, which could be potential carriers of germs and infection.
Some dogs also develop mastitis. This condition can infect just some of the mammary glands. When an infection occurs, the gland does not produce milk.
Hormonal imbalance – if your nursing dog produces the hormone epinephrine, she could stop producing milk. The correct hormones signal the breasts to produce milk.
Lenght of nursing time – puppies nurse until 4-6 weeks of age. During their first week of life, they need to nurse every 2 hours. Every puppy drinks approximately 5.5 ounces of milk per diet. Bigger breeds are going to drink more.
Some nursing dogs run out of milk after the third week, especially if the litter is very big.
2. Consult a vet.
Remember that each dog is unique so your dog will need specific requirements.
Your vet understands the physical, mental, and behavioral quirks of your nursing dog as well as you do. But your vet was taught to do the required tests and offer the best treatments for a particular condition.
Present to your vet the result of your initial examination. You and your vet are the perfect combo to assist your nursing dog. It’s best to get your vet opinion than leave things to chance.
Follow your vet’s advice. Don’t try to deviate from it unless you consult your vet first.
3. Help your dog overcome her problem.
Try these tips in consultation with your vet:
1) Regarding your dog’s physical limitation, rotate the puppies on the teats.
One way to know that the puppies are starving is if they cry or whine constantly.
The hind teats are the best and generally have the most milk. Some puppies tend to hog many teats. Establish a scheme to give even the smallest puppy an opportunity at the best teats.
This rotation system can help your dog not to be too overwhelmed by her hungry pups.
Be sure that your dog will allow you to handle her pups. Otherwise, she might become angry and bite you if you touch her children.
2) To help your dog get the right amount of calories, vitamins, and minerals, try these tips:
- Give your dog quality food that increases the mother dog’s calorie intake. It is essential to have high fat, high protein, high in vitamins and minerals, food that increases weight. But it must be simple for easy digestion of the food.
Some of the recommended dog foods for lactating dogs are:
Victor Purpose Nutra Pro Dry Dog Food has low carbohydrate and high protein ingredients.
Wild’s dog food formula taste mimics the wild dog’s natural nutrition. Its dog food has probiotics which make it simple to digest the kibble.
Bully Max is a meat-based kibble with a 30/20 formula: 30% protein and 20% fats.
Your nursing dog’s treats should also be very nutritious. Beef jerky, fresh fruits, or cheese are good examples.
- Give her smaller but more frequent meals. Give her 3 to 4 meals throughout the day.
- If she is on a raw diet, make sure that she can digest her food easily.
- Even if you may be tempted to do so, don’t feed your nursing dog with cooked human food. Despite having a lot of calories in human food, it still has a lot of additives that could damage your nursing dog.
3) To help keep your dog hydrated, try these tips:
- Always provide fresh water. Determine if your dog like cold, lukewarm, or warm water.
- Keep her water bowl near her at all times so that she does not have to walk far to drink water.
- Give your dog plain chicken broth with no or very little salt.
- Give your dog goat’s milk or almond milk, which are easy to digest for dogs.
4) One way to help lessen the stress of your nursing dog is to create a safe, comfortable, and quiet environment for it. Tell the other people to leave until you realize your dog is relaxed. Reestablish that your dog is loved.
Also, give your dog a break from nursing and her hungry puppies. In this way, you can reduce her stress from her children.
- Walk your dog when she has the power to do so. Make sure the path is a short and simple one. This physical activity can make her take in some fresh air and de-stress her.
- Give her some mental exercises so that she can forget about her puppies for just a moment.
5) Change the lining of your nursing dog’s nest continuously to avoid infection. Remember that for a few weeks, the nest will become the toilet of the puppies.
Also, have your vet check your nursing dog regularly to make sure they don’t get other infections at this important time.
6) Consider giving your nursing dog some supplements that will boost her ability to produce milk.
Milk thistle is a natural supplement that supports the production of milk by human mothers. It can be used for dogs as well. To generate more milk, some dogs need extra iron, zinc, folic acid, manganese, or selenium.
DX Trophy Dyne High-Calorie Supplement has a flavor of vanilla that can even attract a picky eater. There are 150 calories in each ounce. It may be added to the water or food of your dog.
Be sure that you have your vet’s approval before giving supplements, though. Too much of a vitamin or mineral could make your nursing dog’s condition worse.
4. Nurse the puppies.
If your dog does not generate milk in spite of all your attempts and the efforts of your vet, you will have to nurse your puppies. Buy a milk substitute and facilities such as feeding cans that are suitable for the puppies with the assistance of your vet.
Try these nursing equipments:
- Pet Ag Nursing Kit has all the facilities you need to hand-fed puppies. Each kit includes what you need: latex nipples in various forms that imitate the teats of an animal, a 2-ounce feeding bottle with tablespoon markings for easier milk formula measurement, and a bottle cleaning brush. The nipples are hard. These can be cleaned by sterilization.
- Miracle Nipple has distinct dimensions for pets and wildlife. You can purchase the mini version for puppies. Every kit has a syringe and a nipple. The base of the nipple is broad, so it perfectly fits the syringe. But it’s long enough for a puppy to be able to latch on the nipple as they do with the teat of a mother dog.
Milk replacements need to have a lot of calories and nutrients, most especially proteins. The proteins are important because they help in the development of the puppies’ muscles and organs.
Do not feed cow’s milk substitutes. This sort of milk is going to be too hard on the stomachs of puppies and may trigger diarrhea for the puppies. It is better to replace milk with goat’s milk as it is simpler to digest.
Try these puppy formulas:
- Esbilac Goat’s Milk contains dehydrated goat’s milk and over 30% protein.
- Nutri-Vet Milk Replacement Powder for Puppies is veterinary-formulated.
- Happy Dog Baby Milk Probiotic 30/30 contains ingredients that promote growth.
Feed the puppies every two to three hours.
Keep your nursing dog engaged in the artificial nursing process. It doesn’t mean that she rejects her puppies just because she doesn’t nurse them Make sure she’s not stressed by taking her puppies away from her by you or someone else. This form of nursing should also only be complementary.
You have plenty of options to help your dog spend the nursing time, especially when it doesn’t make milk. Make sure she receives plenty of nutritious food and sufficient liquid. Keep calm and tidy the nesting location. Have her frequently checked by the vet.
Remember, a healthy dog is a happy mother dog. And a happy mother dog can lead to happy and satisfied puppies.