How to Dry up a Dog's Milk and Help Mom Stop Producing
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, momma dog's milk station may remain open for business for 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.
- How much you keep the pups and mother separated,
- your feeding protocols,
- 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 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 withing 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
- Puppy Stages: 12-Week Puppy Behavior and Development
How's the behavior of a 12 week old puppy and what should you expect? This article will tackle some common 12 week old puppy behaviors and phases of their growth.
- Dog Behavior: The Issue of Puppies Being Removed Too...
At what age should you adopt your puppy and when is it too early to separate puppies from mom and littermates? Learn why it is risky to adopt or purchase an underage puppy.
- When Should you Start Weaning Puppies from Mother Do...
If you wondering when puppies should start the weaning process here are some answers. This article tackles when puppy weaning starts, how to start the process and how to help mom produce less milk.
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
When the dog begins to stop milk production, what if the dog's breast starts getting hard and sore?
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.Helpful 41
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?
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.Helpful 19
It's been three days, and my dog is no longer feeding. What do I do?
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.Helpful 16