Whenever you see a pup or come across a litter you can’t resist the urge to hold that little furball and caress it. But have you heard about the popular belief and think Do dogs eat their puppies if you touch them?
It is a long-standing myth that has been debated several times but it is not true at all. But that doesn’t mean you should touch puppies whenever you want. Firstly, you have to be sure whether mama dog is okay with it or not.
It is a myth that dogs will eat their newborn puppies if humans touched them. In fact, family dogs are often very tolerant of their favorite humans touching their babies. You can safely handle puppies that are at least 3 weeks old.
You must have come across this myth several times but as said it is just a myth, there’s no truth in it. However, there could be many other reasons for a mother dog to eat its puppies.
The mama dog would not like you to touch her newborn puppies but not, in any case, will she eat them. Being a pet owner, it might get hard not to touch them but you have to respect your dog’s boundaries.
Is It Ok To Touch Puppies After They Are Born?
You can safely touch puppies 3 weeks after they are born. No matter how delighted you get while seeing a newborn pup and want to hold it, you should resist doing so as newborns are very delicate and can get injured or infected easily.
Moreover, the mom dog wouldn’t like you to touch her newborn due to her maternal protective instincts and this could make her have aggressive behavior towards you.
Is It Normal For Dogs To Eat Their Puppies?
Although cannibalism isn’t common even amongst dogs, at the end they are animals and possesses animal instincts. It is very rare that mother dogs eat their puppies but it can happen because of many reasons.
Seeing a female dog eating her pup might be disheartening for a dog owner but know that there could be enough valid reasons for a mother to do it. Hence, there’s no point in getting angry over your pet as a mother knows better for her child.
Will My Dog Reject Her Puppies If I Touch Them?
Generally, a dog doesn’t reject her puppies if you touch them but if this occurs then the possible reason could be that the mama dog senses human body odor on the pup instead of their hormonal odor. Thus, unable to identify the pup as its own, the dog can reject them.
However, it rarely happens and on the contrary, if the mother dog is your domestic dog then she will let you touch puppies but always consider if she is comfortable with you touching her pups.
Also Read: Can You Use Baby Shampoo On Dogs?
It is not normal for a mother dog to eat their puppies but if she does that then there could be many reasons. A few of them are:
If a female dog goes through C-section and not the natural process of delivering, then the hormones that are released at the time of giving a birth kick in late. And she will not recognize her pups and abandon them.
Puppies will create high-pitched noises and erratic movements which further irritates the mother dog and she will not feed them at all.
In the worst case, the mother dog’s predatory instincts get activated and thus results in harming or even killing her puppies.
Giving birth is an exhausting process both mentally and physically and can result in PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in dogs. The stress can affect the rational thinking of a mother dog.
Yes, mom dogs can kill or eat their puppies if they are stressed out. They get stressed when they are unable to locate a quiet and secluded place for their litter to live. Or, if they feel that their litter is too big to take care of and feed them all alone.
3. To Put Them Out Of Their Misery
Mother dog can sense if one of the pups is ill and not fit for survival. Thus, she eats the ill pup and puts it out of its misery.
Another reason is she doesn’t want the ill pup to spread the illness to her healthy pups and keeps the remaining puppies safe.
Hence, survival of the fittest is followed in this case.
4. Early Breeding
If a female dog gets bred at an early age i.e. while she is on her first heat then it becomes harmful for the newborn puppies. It’s because the mother dog is inexperienced and not capable of taking care of her newborn pups.
Adult dogs are found to be more stable for breeding as compared to young dogs.
An unstable and inexperienced mama dog doesn’t know how to handle her pups and she might pick them up in the 1st week after the birth. During those times, puppies are more fragile they can get killed, or mama dog either eat them.
Mastitis is a type of infection in which the breast of the mother dogs gets red and inflamed making it painful for them to feed their puppies. In such cases, a mother dog may reject the entire litter to feed.
And in the worst-case scenario the mother dog can get irritated and aggressive which results in eating her puppies.
The mere thought of your dog eating her puppies can be heart-wrenching. So, to avoid your dog from eating her puppies you should take the following precautions:
- Don’t breed your dog if she is still very young to handle the puppies
- Maintain a healthy diet so that your dog and her puppies are both healthy after the delivery
- Make sure the environment where your dog gives birth should be safe and peaceful
- Get a routine check-up of your dog to avoid a C-section
- After the 24 hours of giving birth pay a visit to a vet to ensure that both the mother dog and her puppies are healthy and safe
- If the mother dog isn’t feeding or rejecting any pup then immediately take that pup to a veterinarian
- In case you see any odd changes in the behavior of your dog, closely keep a check on her
- If your dog behaves strangely towards the puppies you should separate her from the puppies
To know more about dietary plans for your female dog, click here
One of the reasons a mother dog eats her puppy is because the pup is stillborn. As the stillborn pup doesn’t make any noises or show any movement, the mother dog is unable to feel any heartbeats and thus considers it as outside material.
The mother dog is unable to recognize the dead puppy as her own and thinks of it as the parts of the after-birth material. Hence, eats the stillborn puppy.
While it seems weird to you that your dog is biting her puppies but there are reasons why a mom dog does it. A few of them include:
1. Accidental Biting
At the time of birth when the mother dogs remove the sac in which puppies are born, she can accidentally bite on the offspring too.
A mother dog when starts to wean the pups might do it by biting them and scaring them off.
If puppies are notorious and create problems for the mama dog or hurt each other while playing, she may bite the puppies to teach them some general discipline. If your dog has food aggression then she’s more likely to bite her puppies if they touch her food.
4. Inhibition Training
To teach puppies about bite inhibition, the mama dog may bite. Or simply stand and leave if the puppies get too mouthy while nursing which shows them not to bite too hard.
Dogs usually carry their pups by their neck and if your dog is gently biting her pup’s neck then she simply wants to carry her puppies to some other place.
It is totally okay to leave the newborn puppies with their mother as in the initial weeks after the birth. The puppies are not able to maintain the heat of their body and they need their mother throughout the initial one to two weeks to provide the heat.
However, you should keep an eye on the behavior of the mother dog in starting to determine whether she is settling well with puppies. Or if is there any odd behavior of your dog towards puppies.
Will My Dog Bite Me If I Touch Her Puppies?
Due to her maternal instincts, your dog might get overprotective of her puppies. She wouldn’t like it if you touch or hold the pups and can sometimes bite you.
A mama dog can take violent actions if she feels that your presence might be a threat to her puppies. Although, not every mother dog reacts that way. Some mom dogs let their favorite human touch the puppies.
But you should always be considerate of the mama dog and avoid touching newborn pups if she starts growling or barking at you.
In the first two weeks, the puppies should sleep with their mothers throughout the day and night. Newborn puppies need their mother for feeding, maintaining body heat, and cleaning by licking.
However, it is recommended that you keep a close watch on the mother dog and her newborn puppies to ensure that she doesn’t accidentally sit on the puppies or kicks them. A nursing mother won’t do it knowingly but she may have stress and fatigue from nursing her pups all day that she may not realize while stepping onto her pups.
When it comes to male dogs or dad dogs, they lack paternal instincts and may not even recognize their puppies. Dad dogs do not have caring or loving instincts towards their puppies.
It is suggested that you should keep the puppies and dad dogs separate for at least 4 weeks. Even the mother dog wouldn’t like the presence of the male dog around her puppies.
It has been observed that once the young puppy starts playing and gets along with the male dog, the father dog starts caring for his puppies and looks out for them while playing.
Those little furballs are so cute that you can’t restrain yourself from touching them but it is advised not to touch puppies before the period of 3 weeks after their birth.
Puppies are very delicate in the initial stages and you can get them hurt even without knowing. You should only touch them if it’s particularly necessary at that time, like:
- If a pup is ill/injured
- Rejected by her mother
- While weighing them
- To take care of orphaned newborn puppies
It is safe to move newborn puppies within the first week itself but you should be careful while doing it as puppies are unable to produce heat and can die because of chilling. So, you should keep the temperature at 70 degrees while doing that.
Also, if you are planning of getting a new puppy, then you should wait for 6-8 weeks before doing that as around this time the puppies can feed and groom themselves.
Even though the scenario is rare, you can know if your mother dog is rejecting her puppies from the below actions:
1. Maintains Distance
It is almost impossible to separate mother dogs from her puppies and if she does that, it simply means she is rejecting them.
2. No Licking
Dogs show love by licking and if your dog isn’t licking her pups, then she’s showing her disinterest in them. By licking, the mom dog cleans the pups. If the mother dog doesn’t clean the pups, then the pups can eat each other’s poop and can develop a disease called parvo.
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3. Loud Crying
Initially, puppies tend to be quiet as they just sleep and eat all the time. If you hear the voice of their excessive crying, then your mother dog is refusing to feed the litter.
Hearing the question: do dogs eat their puppies if you touch them? can be disturbing for you.
But now that you know the reasons why female dogs do that, it may be quite understandable for you. You shouldn’t get angry over your dog for doing so rather give her training or get your female dog spayed.