Maternal Behavior Problems Average Cost

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Average Cost

$550

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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

Princess
Pit bull
2 Years
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Maternal

My dog is a new mom she has a liter of 7. She hasnt been cleaning the pups well so we have to step in and do it.she barely goes in the pups room unless i make her go in by shutting off anyway for her to get out. I feel lime she doesnt go in enough to do her motherly duties. Shes avoiding them and only nurses when i put her in their room she seems fine but with us doing her duties is this normal. Plus she seem to think a chew toy is one of them i think. When the pups cry she atill dont go in there any suvgestions.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2981 Recommendations
Like some people, some animals are not natural mothers and have little to no mothering instinct; you should continue to keep her with her pups so that they can nurse but if she isn’t allowing them to nurse you may need to use a milk replacement formula. There isn’t anything we can really do to get her to be more attentive unfortunately. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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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
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2981 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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Riva
mongrel
13 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Nurturing a toy,

She had puppies at some point when she lived with her past owners which was many years ago. Yesterday she got a chance to sniff a neighbors dog which is a small breed and since then she began acting very strange. She has one toy in particular that she used to like and play with as a regular toy then she pretty much ignored it for several months and all of a sudden since yesterday's event she began picking it up, always keeping it by her side, licking it, keeping it safe next to her, if we take it from her she becomes stressed (panting and frantically looking around)and immediatelly goes to search the whole home for it so she could bring it back by her side. The strangest of all is that if we squeak the toy she almost every single time licks the toy then begins licking her nipples. Is she by chance checking if she can give it her milk? It's very strange and heartbreaking in a way. I think it has something to do with Excessive Mothering Behavior. She ignored that toy for months and now she honestly freaks out being without it (what seems like nurturing) which honestly was a 360 change in her behavior in a day so I wonder if it was because of her encounter with that younger and tiny female dog? Is there something I can do for her?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1397 Recommendations
Riva may be going through a false pregnancy, in which case letting her have the toy and letting her mother it is the best thing to do for her. If she isn't spayed, that may help her.

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Hope
Pit bull
2 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Maternal

Is it normal for my female pit to who was spayed when I got her to try and be a surragate to a chuiwawa pup who's mother passed trying to give birth to the other pups also she kicks the pup an awful lot is it normal for her to constantly want to kick the puppy

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2981 Recommendations
Maternal behaviour is unusual in a spayed female, but still may occur; however the kicking behaviour is unusual. If the pup is still quite young you should keep them separate from her and feed the pup a milk replacer to help with growth and development. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Licks not kicks

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Bella
pitbull
15 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Leaving pups

My dog gave birth to 8 puppies a week ago, 1 was born stillborn and this morning I found 1 dead. I guess my question is should I separate her from the rest of her pups at night only? She's a good mom, she's cleans and feeds them but she also sleeps away from her new pups as well. Should I bring her in to the vet? She leaves her pups for a period of time, sometimes an hour or so & sometimes longer.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1397 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. There isn't any reason to separate her from the pups at night, they nurse every few hours. If she leaves them for a little bit, that shouldn't be a problem, unless you notice anything that doesn't seem right. It might not be a bad idea to have her and the pups examined to make sure that everyone is okay!

My four year old lab had her first litter On Christmas eat about seven weeks old. Syrian section had to be done. Mom recognize the baby in 36 hours and began your food and cleaning them up. But as soon as they began to have teeth, it was painful for her to nurse. I began to wane her off the puppies with dog food for the pups. The mom dog has acted strange since the birth of her puppies. She eat anything that she sees Lang round including my food and is not readily controllable To commence. Please comment

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Hershey
Papillon
4 Years
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Medication Used

none

Hello, my dog is mixed breed partly papillon rescued dog aged 4 years. She was found pregnant in 7 weeks. She gave birth to 5 litters. Since then and for the past 12 weeks she has been acting very aggressive. Over protective to her puppies and small toys. She keeps barking severely toward anyone other than us four (my husband, myself and my 2 boys). If we take them out to potty she keeps running behind them and biting the puppies for going out of their playpen and or room. What should I do?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2981 Recommendations
This is an overprotective mother issue and not a medical issue; apart from walking them separately and punishing the mother there is little else you can do unfortunately as each situation is different. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Hi I have 3 Chihuahuas, 2 girls and 1 boy, and about a month ago one of my dogs gave birth, she's been good at taking care of the litter and she cleans them and feeds them. They're now almodt two months and they can run and play around, but my other female dog has become protective over them, she won't let the mother near the puppies and they fight. She's extremely over protective and when we get the puppies she wines and growls at us until we put them back. She has had puppies of her own before, twice actually, so I'm confused as to why she's being so aggressive when she never has been and caring for these puppies when their mother can just fine

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Babymoma
Bulldog
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

wont help her puppies

she's jealous of her 2 and a half week old puppies and won't have nothing to do with them now. She won't feed nor clean them nothing . shes 2 years old and a only dog she's always been very jealous of any other animal . but at first she was a good mom had 12 and 1 died right away she was good to the others till 3 days ago.I dont know what to do

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1397 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. It is very abnormal for a dog to be jealous of her pups at that age, and there may be more going on if she isn't feeding them. They will need to be bottle fed is she isn't feeding them, and she should be examined by a veterinarian to determine if she has a medical problem, as soon as possible. I hope that everything is okay with her.

My dog is german shepherd triever mix and had 11 healthy puppies (from what I can tell) by a black lab and shes been doing very well with taking care of them but its been 3 days since she gave birth and she's been panting and breathing kind of hard and just now she grabbed her toy and started nudging around in the blankets and whining and ive been feeding 3-4 times a day and she drinks about 5 bowls of water a day and I just dont know what I can do to help her or make her more comfortable, what can I do?

My dog had puppies 3 weeks ago and my other dog is crying wanting to be in with them all the time do you think there is a problem she just wants to lay with them and clean them .

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Lilly
Pom-Shi
4 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

My little Pom had 4 puppies this morning and the mother is doing fantastic, however she has left the puppies by themselves for an extended period. Should I be checking to see if the mother has sufficient milk flow?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2981 Recommendations
It is important that the pups get a sufficient amount of colostrum immediately after birth and then are nursed regularly; you should check Lilly to see if she has an adequate milk flow; you may need to rub her glands a bit to see if that help with the let down of milk. If she is not nursing the pups or has poor milk quantity you should consider a milk replacer. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Ciara
Husky Jack
Shell be 3 nov 27th
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

One of my females gave birth 2 weeks ago and my other female (1 of her daughters I kept from her first litter) wants to clean and lay with them..the mother is allowing her to do so. Is this normal? She has never had a litter of her own does thus mean he is wanting to be a mother?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2981 Recommendations
She may just be getting broody with her mother having another litter, this should pass after a week or so; separating her from the pups is debatable as there are varying opinions on this. Spaying her should also resolve the problem if you are not planning on breeding her. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Lexi
pitbull
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Aggression towards people
Whelping

My dog just had puppies yesterday shes doing all her motherly duties and is alwats with the puppies when i bring her outside to relive herself she gets it done very fast and wants to go back in but the first time i brought her out after she had them she is very aggressive towards people on the street walking by. They dont even pay attention to her and she barks and trys to jump at them. She has always been a friendly lovable dog. If people co.e to thw house she barks once or twice but settles back down with the babies. Is this normal? Is she going to go back to normal

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2981 Recommendations
It sounds like Lexi is being protective of her pups which is somewhat normal, new mothers will respond differently; but I would just try to correct the behaviour and monitor it for the meantime as it may be just her being over protective. If the behaviour continues, you should really try to punish her for it. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Meechie Monroe
Miniature Schnauzer
6 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Maternal
Odd behavior

My dog is exhibiting some odd behaviors long after she has given birth. Her pups are 5 weeks old now and she is on her 3rd liter and had not exhibited these behaviors before. Her liters have been 2 years apart each. This particular liter even though they are 5 weeks old she has not attempted to ween them off and her milk has dried out for the most part and we have been giving the puppies water-soaked puppy kibbles. Another odd behavior is eve after multiple bathroom trips outside during the day, she will urinate and deficate in the house at night when we usually leave her out and she’ll be fine. Another odd behavior is that she will normally leave her pups when nursing or watching them if she see’s or smells food when I’m eating or in the kitchen. On morning I was making food for her pups which she’s likes very much and eats as a treat. Her pups are big now and we’re trying to nurse and they had pushed her in a corner. I called her name and she didnt jump and leave them. I went and picked her up away from them to come get a treat and she didn’t eat it AND she ran back to her pups. I called her name again and she continued to ignore me and sat by her other owners bedroom door with the puppies fighting her for milk. I put them in their large cage with their meal where they are kept and she still didn’t want the treat. Their poops are large and she still wants to eat them, and the last thing is that we don’t keep her in the cage with her puppies anymore because she started scratching to get out like a week ago and we put her in her own crate. She had a huge accident in her crate which has never happened before even after multiple bathroom trips before we left the house for the day. She is showing some very weird behaviors and I’m not sure why they are starting so late after whelping.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2981 Recommendations
This is some strange behaviour and since it is most likely a purely behavioural problem there will not be a simple or straightforward solution. I cannot think of anything that may help in this situation for Meechie Monroe apart from separating her fully from the litter of puppies; it is a drastic action and she may continue to defecate and urinate in her crate when she is alone. I would recommend checking in with your Veterinarian to ensure that there isn’t anything medically wrong but I believe this is purely behavioural. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Khaleesi
American bully
1 Year
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Lack of maternal insit

My American Bully has her first litter on December 26. She had 8 puppies, one died. She cleaned them up and was feeding regularly at the beginning but after about a week she wouldn't check on them or feed them, we had to pretty much hold her there for the pups to feed. Is this normal or should we get her fixed?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2981 Recommendations
This isn’t normal behaviour, a mother should only leave her pups for short periods of time to take care of business (urination, defecation etc…) and then return to them; some dogs, like some humans; are not natural mothers and you should need to hold a dog down to nurse. Whether or not you choose to spay her is your decision but if you intention is not to breed her you should so. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Mine is doing the same thing I'm bottle feed them a bit and then put them back on mom greedy lil rascals

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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
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2981 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

You were very helpful thank you!

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.

My dog was in her bed with her puppies but all of a sudden she begins to take them under the couch. What can cause this?

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