Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.
When does a mother dog stop producing milk? When and how can you help a mother dog dry up her milk supply?
If you are asking these questions, most likely, you are dealing with a mother dog who is in the process of weaning her puppies but is still producing milk. Without your timely intervention, the momma dog's milk station may remain open for business longer than the puppies really need. Don't expect milk production to suddenly halt out of the blue just as you would turn off a faucet; drying up the milk supply is a gradual and slow process. You can help close down the milk bar by helping the puppies go through the weaning process and making some changes to mom's diet.
How Long Does It Take for a Mother Dog's Milk to Dry Up?
The time it takes to dry up the mother dog's milk supply will vary depending on several factors, including:
- how much you keep the pups and mother separated,
- your feeding protocols, and
- the dog's type or breed.
For instance, Maltese puppies (unlike Labrador puppies who are usually completely weaned and ready to go to their new homes at 8 weeks) will still be nursing at 8 weeks and will go to their forever homes at 12 weeks.
For How Long Do Dogs Usually Produce Milk?
So let's take a look at how mother dog's milking ordeal starts and ends. The milk bar officially opens immediately when the puppies are born. This is when momma's nipples start delivering the rich, immune-boosting colostrum for the first 24 to 48 hours, followed by a continuous supply of milk for the pups to enjoy to on the whim of the moment. The pups will generally rely on this steady supply of milk for their first three to four weeks of life. Afterward, they'll need to be weaned by gradually introducing them to solid foods.
In order to stop producing milk, the milk reservoir needs to be emptied so that the brain is signaled to slow down and eventually halt production. While this should occur naturally, there are a few steps you can take to help mother dog dry up.
How to Dry Up a Dog's Milk Supply
Imagine your dog's milk production as a factory and the puppies as little customers. A lot of your dog's ability to continue to produce milk varies on a lot of factors. You can take charge of several of these factors by following these tips.
Reduce Supply by Reducing Demand
Production depends on demand. If the puppies keep on suckling milk, they will empty the milk reservoir, causing mama to produce more milk, with the end result of ultimately allowing the milk operation to thrive and stay in business. Your goal is to lower the pups' interest in milk and reduce the milk supply by making some adjustments to the diet of the pups and mother dog. The lower the milk demand, the higher the chances mom's milk production will eventually slow down.
Give Mom a Break
Momma dog most likely offered great customer service during the pups' first weeks of life by contently allowing them to nurse, but things change drastically once the pups start growing. At around 5 to 6 weeks of age, the puppies' needle-sharp teeth and nails turn nursing into quite an unpleasant chore. Take advantage of mother dog's grumpy demeanor and reluctance to nurse by separating the pups and enticing them to try some ground high-quality puppy food moistened with warm water offered on a shallow pan.
When mother dog was nursing full time, her nutritional demands were very high so to ensure a steady supply of milk to her offspring. Now, that the puppies are starting to be weaned, restricting mother dog's food intake immediately prior to and during weaning may help minimize distension of the mammary glands and help her dry up.
Then, over the next several days, her food intake can be gradually increased until regular maintenance intake is resumed. Discuss this process with your vet so as to ensure mom and pups receive the most adequate and appropriate nutrition for this important stage of their lives.
Closing the milk station is a natural, gradual business. Don't rush up the process; rather, follow mother dog's instinct as she knows best when it's time to close down the factory. Don't worry; she won't let her pups starve. Generally, once the pups are weaned, mother dog should produce less milk and dry up within a week.
However, you may want to consult with your vet if you notice mother dog's mammary glands continuing to produce milk after the pups are weaned and the glands are becoming painful and engorged. This can be a sign of mastitis setting in.
Note: While milk production will eventually stop within a week or so after the puppies have been successfully weaned, consider that mother dog's breasts can take a few months to stop hanging and return to normal. This sagging may remain in some cases but can be mostly permanent in dogs who have been continually bred or bred several times.
Mother Dog That's Reluctant to Nurse
For Further Reading
- When Should You Start Weaning Puppies From Their Mother?
This article tackles when puppy weaning starts, how to start the process, and how to help the mom dog produce less milk.
- Why You Shouldn't Remove Puppies From Their Littermates and Mom Too Early
At what age should you adopt your puppy and when is it too early to separate puppies from their mom and littermates? Learn why it is risky to adopt or purchase an underage puppy.
- Stages of Growth: 12-Week-Old Puppy Behavior and Development
What is the behavior of a 12-week-old puppy and what should you expect? This article will tackle some common behaviors and phases of a dog's growth.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: When the dog begins to stop milk production, what if the dog's breast starts getting hard and sore?
Answer: You may be dealing with engorgement or a case of mastitis. Differentiating the two can be a challenge at times. With mastitis, the tissue is hot and quite painful. Some dogs may also run a temperature of 102.5 or higher. The treatment for both is quite different. With mastitis, you want to use warm compresses and empty the gland as often as possible. In mastitis, usually only one gland or one restricted area is affected, whereas in the case of engorgement usually you are looking at a more comprehensive issue. If it's plain engorgement, cool compresses may be helpful. The ideal call is to consult with your vet.
Question: My dog isn't pregnant so she doesn't have puppies, but she's getting milk. How can we stop it she's drinking her own milk?
Answer: This sounds like a phantom pregnancy, which tends to happen when a dog goes in heat but doesn't get pregnant. In general, this behavior should subside as false pregnancy passes. You can try distracting her by offering her something else to do such as walks and access to stuffed Kongs to keep her mind off of it.
Question: It's been three days, and my dog is no longer feeding. What do I do?
Answer: If it's three days and the mother dog hasn't been feeding (and the pups are in the process of weaning), the mother dog should start gradually producing less milk and may dry up within a week.
If the mother dog isn't producing milk for three days and the pups aren't in the process of weaning, then it's important to see a vet and determine why there is a milk shortage. This may happen in cases of malnutrition, a heavy parasite load, dehydration, stress, hormonal imbalance, or giving birth earlier than expected.
A shot of oxytocin administered by the vet may help the mother dog produce milk. Make sure your dog has access to water as drinking can help increase milk production.
Dee on April 16, 2020:
My dog gave birth in July and know its April and she is still dripping milk, Is there something i can get to dry her up?
Peter on March 04, 2020:
My dog having a phantom pregnancy but has got a lump brought her to vet twice she got injection to take milk away lump tender to the touch anyone help
Carlos on January 30, 2020:
My frenchy gave birth is been 6 weeks what can I do help her empty out her milk sacks to put her back to normal?????
Pit bull on November 13, 2019:
Our puppies 6/1/2 weeks and mommy dog is feading like 2 times a day still is that ok
Annamarie McAnelly on October 06, 2019:
my momma seems to be getting hot - not to interested in feeding most times if she goes in comes out fairly quickly pups aree 5 weeks and eating mush 3times a day - - breasts appear to het hot and shes panting? starting to cut her food intake not sure what more to do ...started placing cool towels on tummy area to keep cooler? any other suggestions - tomarrow vet office 1st thing
Jamie Fleming on September 15, 2019:
3 year's after my dog had her only litter she is still producing milk. How can i get that to stop? I don't know if she is doing it to herself or not but i know its painful for her when she gets ingorged. So i basically have to milk her in order to make her feel better. Please help
Yvonne Nye on February 04, 2019:
My dog has got 2 5 week old puppies. The mother had an infected foot so was put on anti-biopics which the pups must not have. They are eating well and can be weaned but the mother still has milk.I want to dry her up as soon as plossible so she can be with her babies but the milk bar is shut
Annamay on October 21, 2018:
My puppies will be two months on tuesday. They eat solid food drink water and are almost fully potty traind. Only thing wrong is they see mom and rush to feed she trys to run away but they still latch on. How do i help her dry up so she dont get hurt?
Babyita Gomez on July 30, 2018:
How long does she have feed popysmilk
Elizabeth Castro on November 20, 2017:
My mom had puppies and they are all have home but the mom her breastfeeding is getting big and need to know to do its and it's and it's kind of hurting her what can I give her her name is Brooke
linda little on November 06, 2017:
i have a 6 year old female daschund. She has not been spayed. 4 Weeks ago my husband brought home an abandoned kitten that needed nursing. my dog produced milk and fed the kitten. the kitten is more than capable of eating its own food. however she is still producing milk. what should i do ????
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 19, 2017:
Jennie, it sounds like she has discomfort and she is feeling relief by doing that. Have her see the vet, maybe she has an infection.Maybe an Elizabethan collar may help to prevent nursing.
Jennie on October 17, 2017:
I have this older female little dog who drinks her own milk need to dry it up but she nurses on herself.she has a huge sack and nipples r big ..all she does is drink all night long
shar on June 08, 2017:
I have a boston that is a rescue ,her puppies went to a no kill shelter ,I had now why to keep them ,the owner just let her run free so who ever the daddy was is no clue,,the owner and girl friend just had a baby so he let her go,but ive had her for 3 days and she looks full of milk ,the puppies were 9 weeks and they said she was not letting them nurse ,so what do I need to do,i don't want her hurting ,I know that hurts ,it hurt me with my son so I understand, any sugestions for her [milee ]
Jessica on June 02, 2017:
My puppies are now 4 weeks old mom started to wean at two weeks old they are now eating soft and hard food with no issues they took to the food and even water right away mama normally only feeds them once at night but when she goes to clean them up or after them they try to feed ots taking a toll on her they cutting her with what I think are their claws I try to keep them trimmed but she is getting cut over and over today it was so bad we found blood all over the puppies faces in a panic I cleaned the blood off to insure it was not them thats when I noticed her legs and tail where covered in blood and it was dripping she would not let me clean her up and now I dont know what to do for her she wants to keep them clean but does not want to feed them
Simone on July 27, 2016:
Mum's milk just dried up is there any reason why this would happen
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 02, 2013:
Thanks for finding my article of drying up a mother's dog milk interesting and sharing
Chris Achilleos on May 02, 2013:
Interesting Hub. Well written and informative!
Thanks for sharing,
Voted up and interesting!
Agnes on May 01, 2013:
Interesting article, as always. I had no idea you can actually do that!