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My Dog Keeps Leaving Her Puppies: 3 Ways to Respond

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

dog smelling puppy

Watching a mother dog give birth is an exciting time, but it can also be quite stressful for everyone involved, including the new mommy. Sometimes things can go wrong, like if a mother decides to leave her puppies to fend for themselves. If a mother dog leaves their puppies, those puppies cannot possibly take care of themselves.

Therefore, the owner needs to understand why a mother dog might leave their puppies, the signs that abandonment is imminent, and what to do if the mom refuses to show interest in her pups. Here are a few steps that should be taken when it is time for your mother dog to give birth, so you are prepared in case she ends up leaving them.

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The 3 Ways to Respond to a Mother Dog Rejecting Puppies:

1. Understand the Reasons

There are a few different reasons that a mother dog might leave her puppies and show no interest in caring for them. The first reason is simply stress and discomfort. Giving birth is stressful for the mom, which can affect her ability to care about anything else but her stress, especially if she is a first-time mother.

Another reason that a mother dog might ignore or leave her puppies is that her hormones are out of balance and her maternal instincts are not kicking in as effectively as they should. This could lead to a lack of interest in grooming or even feeding their pups.

Mother dogs may also “abandon” their babies if they seem too ill or weak to survive. She herself might be feeling unwell and simply unable to take care of her puppies. Whatever the reason, it is possible to get to the bottom of the problem if you know what signs to look for.

mother and puppy staffy
Image Credit: Pixabay

2. Understand the Signs

There are signs to look for that will let you know whether you can count on your mommy dog to take care of her puppies. The first thing that your dog should do when a puppy is born is to lick them to rid them of the sack that they are born in and to stimulate them so they start breathing on their own. If she does not lick her babies, she probably won’t do anything else to care for them either.

Even if a mother dog does lick her babies when they are born, she may back off and not take any further steps to care for them. If a mother dog does not lay out to allow her babies to nurse of her own free will, she is likely turning her back on them for some reason. The final sign to look for is a mother dog paying no attention to their puppies once they are born, not even looking at them.

3. Understand How to Handle the Situation

Once you understand why a mommy dog might abandon her puppies and you know the signs of an abandonment situation, you should understand how to handle it so the puppies can thrive and the mom dog can connect with them. With any luck, you will not need any outside help to get the job done.

If you notice that your mother dog is not taking care of her puppies, the first thing that you should do is assess her whelping box and surroundings. Your dog might need extra privacy if their box is in an active part of the home where the mom and pups cannot get any quiet. If the whelping box is in the living room, try moving it to a bedroom or even to the laundry room, where there are not so many prying eyes and active conversations going on.

On the other hand, a mother dog might feel lonely if they are attached to you and their whelping box is too far away from where you are spending your time. Your presence may help ease your dog’s stress enough for them to relax and focus their attention on their new puppies. So, try moving the whelping box to the room that you spend most of your time in.

If moving or adjusting the whelping box does not do the trick, you may have to step in and take over for your mother dog, at least temporarily.

dog feeding puppies
Image Credit: Pixabay

If the puppies do not get licked when they are born, you should use a clean, lightly damp towel to clean them off and gently rub them until they are properly breathing on their own. You will also have to stimulate their genitals to get them to use the bathroom, like their mother is supposed to do. This entails simply wiping the puppy’s genitals with a soft cloth regularly so they can relieve themselves.

You may even have to bottle feed the puppies if you cannot get your mother dog to nurse them. However, it is best to try and get your dog to nurse her puppies before you attempt to bottle feed them. You can do this by laying your dog down and comforting her with petting and rubbing. While using one hand to comfort your dog, use the other hand to move the puppies toward the mother dog’s nipples. If possible, help them latch on.

Hopefully, your dog will allow nursing to happen, and when it does, the interaction should help her hormones balance out and her maternal instincts to kick in. If she still does not allow her puppies to nurse, it is time to call a veterinarian for a visit to make sure that the mom and her pups are all healthy and to figure out how to successfully address the abandonment problem.

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Hopefully, these steps will help you address the situation if your mother dog decides to leave her puppies or turn her back on them for some reason. Stay calm, be patient, and do not be afraid to contact your veterinarian if you feel that the situation is out of your control or even if you have a simple question, no matter how trivial you think it might be. The focus should be on the health and development of the new puppies and their mother. Leave a comment to let us know what your game plan is for the upcoming birth of new puppies in your home.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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