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Won't nurse puppies

Species: Dog
Breed: Yorkshire Terrier
Age: 1-2 years
One week ago our Yorkie Maya had a litter of puppies. She gave birth to seven puppies but one didn't survive. She now has 5 males and 1 female. She's been a good mother so far, but yesterday we took the puppies to the vet to have their tails cut off and ever since then Maya has been extremely anxious. She has peed in the house 3 times and was up crying all night and refused to nurse her puppies. Is this normal behavior? Just to let you know also, the pups daddy is here too along with two other dogs. Maya is very hostile towards the other dogs, almost like she's telling them to stay away from her babies. She we look into some type of anti anxiety medicine.

Any advice you can give us will be helpful.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Aw, poor Maya. Raising puppies can be a challenge sometimes!

This is not something that happens very often. I have done lots of tail dockings and have never had a mom reject the puppies as a result of one.

However, some dogs are betting moms than others and I have seen many who will just suddenly decide not to nurse anymore. I'll give you a few things that you can try, but there's no guarantee that we are going to get them to nurse again.

One option is to try to force mom to allow the nursing. So, this would mean holding her and reassuring her and petting her while someone else puts the puppies on the nipples and gets them to nurse. Once she gets some hormone release from allowing the nursing she may relax a little.

It's also not a bad idea to have your vet examine Maya and do some blood work on her. It may be that we are assuming she is not nursing because the pups had their tails docked, but perhaps there is something else wrong. For example, if a dog gets eclampsia (milk fever) they will refuse to nurse their puppies and they will be anxious. This is a really serious problem and if she has it she needs to be treated right away.

Another thing that you could try is something called a DAP collar. This is a collar that releases something called dog-appeasing-pheromones. It helps to relieve stress levels in a dog. Having mom wear one might help. Here is an article that I recently wrote on the use of DAP in dogs. Unfortunately any prescription anxiety medications would likely be harmful to the puppies if she is nursing them.

You may need to purchase milk replacer for the puppies as they really need to eat!

In the meantime, do all you can to keep Maya as quiet and stress free as possible.

I really hope she is ok and starts to nurse soon!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.