Maternal Behavior Problems Average Cost

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Average Cost

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What are Maternal Behavior Problems?

Female dogs usually have a built-in mothering instinct and know exactly what to do when their puppies are born. However, sometimes your dog just does not know what to do with her puppies after they are born and she could care less about taking care of or nursing them. On the other hand, your dog may be excessively mothering to the point where she is trying to care for and nurse puppies that are not hers. She may or may not have had her own puppies and may even guard and clean stuffed animals as they were her puppies. It is not a hereditary disorder and can happen in any breed of dog. These disorders are thought to be caused by certain chemical imbalances in your dog after birth similar to when a human mother has postpartum depression.

Maternal behavior problems in female dogs includes both lack of maternal behavior (mothering) and excessive mothering to her own or other dog’s puppies. These behavior problems can be dangerous if the dog does not take care of the puppies and nurse them.

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Symptoms of Maternal Behavior Problems in Dogs

Symptoms are different for each type of maternal behavior problems.

Lack of Maternal Behavior

  • Does not clean her puppies
  • Abandoning her puppies right away and often
  • Will not let her pups nurse
  • Insufficient care of pups
  • Does not protect her puppies from others
  • Attacking her pups
  • Killing the pups (especially if aggravated by people)
  • If other animals come around she may attack her pups

 Excessive Mothering Behavior

  • Tries to take puppies that are not hers
  • Trying to nurse other dogs’ puppies
  • Guards puppies that do not belong to her and will not let the mother have them
  • Cleaning stuffed animals or puppies that are not hers
  • Guards stuffed animals and other objects as if they are her own pups

 Types

Lack of Maternal Behavior includes dogs that do not take care of their young.

Excessive Mothering Behavior includes female dogs without puppies that try to take care of and nurse other dog’s puppies.

Causes of Maternal Behavior Problems in Dogs

Most often a hormone imbalance is responsible for either of these disorders, but there are other reasons that can cause these behaviors.

 Lack of Maternal Behavior

Stress or Fear

  • Sometimes your dog has too much stress or is afraid she will not feed her babies and may even attack them. It is important to give your new mother and her pups a nice, quiet place to be away from others.

Illness of the Mother

  • If your new mother is sick or in a lot of pain, she may not feel like taking care of puppies and will not want to nurse or clean them. Until your dog is feeling better you may have to take care of the puppies yourself. Contact your veterinarian right away to determine what you should do.

Puppy’s Health

  • Having sickly or deformed puppies may make your dog reject them. It is their natural instinct to focus on the healthy pups and either leave the sick one to die or kill it herself. If you see this is happening you can easily take care of them puppy yourself with a little help from your veterinarian.

Cesarean Section

  • If your dog had to have a cesarean section, she is likely to have mixed feelings about her pups. During a normal birth, the mother produces oxytocin, which increases the hormones to give her the urge to take care of her puppies. If your dog gets a cesarean section, she will not get this boost of hormones that help urge her into motherhood.  

First Litter

  • If your dog is having her first litter of puppies, she may just be scared or overwhelmed; not knowing what to do. You can try to help her by urging her to nurse and speaking softly in a positive tone. If she still does not nurse or becomes aggressive, it is best if you feed them and care for them yourself. Speak to your veterinarian about getting some milk supplements.

Too Many Puppies

  • Sometimes the mom just has too many to care for and needs some help. Get some supplemental milk and help her with her tasks. Do not use regular milk. It has to be milk specially made for feeding puppies.

 Excessive Mothering Behavior

Hormones

  • If your dog is stealing other dog’s puppies and trying to feed and clean them, it is a hormonal issue due to an increase in progesterone. This usually occurs in female dogs that have not had puppies and are in heat. It is best to separate your dog from the puppies and their mother while your dog is in heat. If you do not plan on breeding your dog it is important to get her spayed as soon as possible.

Diagnosis of Maternal Behavior Problems in Dogs

After giving your dog’s medical history and the reason for your visit, the veterinarian will do a physical examination. Your veterinarian will also run a CBC and urinalysis to rule out any medical reasons for the maternal behavior problem.

Treatment of Maternal Behavior Problems in Dogs

If your dog is not taking care of her puppies because she is sick you will need to get her back to good health, but otherwise there is no medical treatment for maternal behavior problems in female dogs. If she is in heat and you do not plan on breeding her, you should get her spayed as soon as possible. This is a routine surgery that is very safe with very few risks. Not getting your dog spayed can lead to ovarian or breast cancer as well as uterine infection.

Recovery of Maternal Behavior Problems in Dogs

Your dog will recover as soon as her hormones level out, which takes 2 to 4 days in most dogs. Regular visits with your veterinarian will keep your dog healthy and happy.

Maternal Behavior Problems Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Josie
Chihuahua/ Rat Terrier
1 Year
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Trying to dig and hide herself
depression

My dog had her pups a week and a half ago and even tho she's she's good mom she has moments lately where she will sleep with me for like 5 hrs or more I had to tell her to go lay in her box. She had 5 pups but 1 was born dead. She keeps going around digging in her bed the blankets the couch trying to get under the furniture or bury herself down in the couch. She seems depressed even tho she has playful moments. Why does she keep digging and trying to hide just herself???

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
976 Recommendations

This digging behaviour most probably is due to Josie trying to find a new safe place to hide her pups; it isn’t a medical problem, just an instinctual one which may get out of hand if she starts to damage furniture. It is just a case of stopping her when she tries, she may feel that a pup is missing so she is trying to protect the remaining litter the best that she can. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Just one other question, is it normal for her to let her pups go for 5 hrs at a time bc she started sleeping with me and were 'll in the same room and is it normal that cry when they try and eat??? They only do it when they suck in her teet but other than that they are very quiet pups.

You were very helpful thank you!

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Josie
Chihuahua/ Rat Terrier
1 Year
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Pups crying while they eat

Just one other question, is it normal for her to let her pups go for 5 hrs at a time bc she started sleeping with me and were 'll in the same room and is it normal that cry when they try and eat??? They only do it when they suck in her teet.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
976 Recommendations

It is unusual for a mother to rest away from the ‘nest’ where her pups are, normally a mother would rest or sleep around her pups so they may feed at will. As for the crying, this may be due to frustration to an inadequate milk supply, if the pups have to work hard to get the milk it may be cries of frustration; check the teats to see if milk flows easily, it may be a case of having your Veterinarian take a look if the pups are unable to get an adequate amount of milk. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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