How You Can Help When Your Dog Rejects Her Puppies?

Posted on: 16 August 2021

It's a thing of beauty to watch a mother dog with her newborn puppies. Dogs are so protective of their defenseless babies, providing them with all the care and nutrition that they need. It's such a natural process that you might think it's inevitable, and for most dogs, it is. However, there will be instances when a mother dog is disinterested in her own puppies to the point of rejecting them (and their needs). 

Indifference to the Puppies

In the animal world, mothering often seems instinctive. Without the need for human intervention, a dog will meet her puppies' needs, keeping them warm and fed. It can be upsetting when your dog doesn't seem to have this instinct. She might regularly leave her puppies to their own devices, seemingly indifferent to their very existence. She might also fail to feed them, leading to visible distress in the puppies, primarily caused by hunger. Why do some dogs seem to lack the mothering instinct?

The Trauma of the Birth

Consider the birth of the puppies. Was it especially traumatic for your dog? It's unhelpful to assign human reasoning to a dog's thought process, but it might be that your dog associates her puppies with that trauma. Did your dog require veterinary assistance with the birth? She may have been medicated, and yes—epidurals are possible for dogs, typically injected at the lumbar intervertebral spaces where the spine gives way to the tail. Alternatively, a problematic birth may have required cesarean delivery. Subsequently, your dog may not register the puppies as hers, since they only appeared after her medication wore off, and she wasn't technically aware of their birth. Whatever the reason, those puppies need your help.

Hand Rearing the Puppies

Vets don't just assist with medical needs, and they offer a range of practical and advisory pet services. Contact your vet and ask for their opinion. You will likely need to take care of the puppies yourself, which includes bottle feeding them every few hours (around the clock). Your vet can tell you which formula to use (and where to get it), along with the amount and frequency of feedings. 

Creating a Bond

While the puppies' immediate needs are your responsibility, your vet may also suggest coaxing a maternal bond out of your dog. They may recommend trying a synthetic dog appeasing pheromone. This medication can be given to your dog and can have a calmative effect. This might be sufficient for your dog to allow her puppies to feed, and can help to create an ongoing bond, although you will need to be vigilant that she doesn't rapidly lose interest again.

Sadly, it might be that motherhood isn't compatible with your dog, meaning that you need to step in to ensure that those puppies still get the best possible start in life.