How to Dry up a Dog's Milk?
When does mother dog stop producing milk? When and how should mother dog dry up? 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. 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. Don't expect milk production though to suddenly halt out of the blue just as you would turn off a faucet; drying up the milk supply is a gradually slow process.
Also, the time it takes to dry up your mother dog's milk supply will vary depending on several factors. How much you keep the pups and mother separated, your feeding protocols, and even the breed of dog may have an impact on how long the whole process of drying up takes. For instance, Maltese puppies, unlike Labrador puppies who are 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.
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 and Demand
A big role of how long the milk station remains open depends on supply and 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.
- Removing Irritating Clients
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.
- Decreasing Supplies
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 Factory
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 reluctant to nurse
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- Understanding Puppy Teeth Stages
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