My dog ​​does not take care of her puppies: what to do?

It can happen that a bitch abandons her young as soon as she gives birth, and the mothering defect which can include the refusal of breastfeeding has different causes. The breeder must be very responsive so that the puppies do not die. Let’s take stock of the reasons that can push a bitch not to take care of her litter, and see how to react to such a situation.

Failure of mothering and / or breastfeeding in the bitch: the causes

By nature, the bitch who becomes a mother takes care of her litter very well, instinctively, in the majority of cases. But a master may have to intervene quickly if he notices that his bitch is rejecting her puppies at birth or within a relatively short period of time after giving birth. Here are the most common causes.

A first litter

The bitch primiparous, that is, who gives birth to pups for the first time, may not have the instinct to take care of his puppies.


Litter rejection is quite common in bitches if the pups are removed surgically. Under these conditions, the mother does not have the opportunity to lick her offspring in order to clean them. In addition, his pacifiers having been disinfected before the operation, this harms the attachment phenomenon between mother and offspring due to the absence of appeasement pheromones at the level of the udders. It is indeed through soothing that the mother sends signals to her babies.

Too many puppies

A substantial reach – usually of 8 or more puppies – is a disturbing situation for the bitch, which gives a lot of energy and is therefore exhausted. With so many puppies requiring care, she fails to take care of them 100%, being able to either abandon all of her young or some of her offspring.

The drop in oxytocin levels

Synthesized by the hypothalamus, this neuropeptide is then excreted by the pituitary gland. Its action is direct on the mammary glands and certain uterine muscles. However, the adoption of puppies by their mother is intrinsically linked to this hormone attachment or oxytocin. If the rate is too low, the body of the bitch does not adapt to the needs of the puppies and the psychic behavior of the mother can be modified.

Mastitis or mastitis

It’s about a inflammation of the mammary glands whose origin is a bacterium. Mastitis makes the tissues very painful so that the bitch does not tolerate breastfeeding well. She may lose interest in her young, or even reject them altogether.

The abnormality in one or more puppies

This is an uncommon case. However, when a bitch gives birth to puppies with a significant malformation or a profound debility, she does not take care of it. We can even sometimes see acts of cannibalism by a bitch towards her abnormal puppies. We then speak of puerperal cannibalism because it follows the period following childbirth.

The bitch’s disinterest in her newborn puppies: how to intervene?

When a bitch does not take care of her puppies, the owner must quickly find a solution to help the little ones without putting their mother aside because she inevitably needs attention, even care, too.

We must be aware that the bitch who rejects her young always has a good reason to do so. There is no question of ill will, nor of whim, nor even of laziness. There is therefore no need to scold or punish her. On the other hand, it is fundamental to put your energy for the benefit of this small family of dogs in danger, and immediately take over from the puppies who have just been born or are only a few days old. The important thing is to offer them a perfectly adapted environment and to provide them with the care they need, namely:

  • Artificial colostrum so that they benefit from a maximum of antibodies during the first 36 hours of their life: otherwise, the survival of the puppies is seriously threatened.
  • Formula for newborn puppies,
  • A cozy and warm “nest”, sheltered from drafts. The temperature should be around 29 to 30 ° C during the 7 days following birth, then 26 ° C during the following 15 days,
  • A clean litter that can be made from soft rags to be replaced very frequently,
  • A quiet place, far from traffic and noise.

The master must contact the vet urgently in order to have the colostrum essential for puppies as quickly as possible. A solution must also be found for the bitch, which will have to be auscultated and then undergo examinations if necessary so that the origin of her lack of interest in her litter is perfectly identified. The professional will therefore have to take care of the mother and do everything to save the puppies obviously counting on the great collaboration of the owner of the animals.