When a mother dogs whelps, or gives birth, her body produces an adequate supply of milk to feed her litter. She also has a natural instinct of when to wean her pups, or gradually cut them off from her milk supply, typically when the pups are 5-6 weeks old. While nature will take its course in terms of ceasing the mother’s milk supply, you can aid in the process and ensure your dog and puppies are well-nourished in the meantime.
Introduce Solid Foods
Help your mother dog wean her pups by offering solid food at about 5 weeks of age. Add water to dry puppy food so it’s soft enough for their young teeth. As the puppies get accustomed to solid food, they’ll start to decrease the amount of nursing they do. This gradual tapering off in terms of puppy feeding demand will help the mother’s milk production start to decline gradually.
Change Mom’s Diet
You were likely feeding your mother dog more than normal during her pregnancy and early nursing stages. When you introduce solid food to the pups, start cutting back mom’s food intake to pre-pregnancy levels. This will help slow production, and combined with weaning efforts, will dry up the mother’s milk supply.
Move the Pups
Establishing independence is part of the weaning process. As the puppies grow and begin transitioning to solid food, they should spend more time away from their mother. Gradually increase the amount of time the pups are separated physically from mom and being socialized elsewhere. If the pups aren’t where the mother can see, smell, hear or touch them, it will help her milk dry up faster.
Take Your Time
Weaning and subsequent lactation cessation is a process that should be done gradually. Consult your vet about the best course of action to take with your mother and puppies. Taking pups away from their mother too soon or changing a mother’s diet too quickly can result in inadequate nutrition and impaired bonding. Don’t rush the process.
Some mothers take longer than others to cease their milk supply, and a hormonal imbalance or complications, like mammary duct inflammation, could delay the process. If your dog’s teats are inflamed or remain engorged after weaning is complete, consult your vet for guidance, diagnosis and treatment options. Don’t attempt to “milk” your dog, as this can be painful and can re-start or increase her milk supply.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.