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Dr. Gary
Dr. Gary, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
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Experience:  DVM, Emergency Veterinarian, BS (Physiology)
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Mother has no milk, the puppies are a week old. Help!

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My mother dog has puppies that are 1 week old and she seems to have dried up her milk. The puppies try to drink and they pull and tug, but they whine and don't get satisfied. I cannot make milk show when squeezing the nipple. What do I do?

Hello. If mom is no longer making milk, then you'll have to bottle raise the puppies. What you'll need to do is pick up some puppy milk replacer from a pet store or grocery store and bottle feed them every 2-4 hours for 1-2 weeks then every 4-6 hours until weaned ~ 5-6 weeks old. You'll also have to stimulate them to go to the bathroom with a wet gauze or cotton ball after each meal. As for mom, giving her milk is not going to help. Typically we feed a puppy food to mom when they are lactating to help give extra calories needed for lactation. If she's dried up now, she's probably not going to produce enough milk to take back over lactation and you are better off letting her dry up and bottle raise the pups. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

So there is no hope whatsoever for helping her lactate again? What on earth causes this to happen? I have raised over 3 dozen litters of Lhasa Apso puppies when I was breeding them 15 years ago, and never one time saw this happen. Is this a common occurrence with Chihuahuas? I have never seen a dog so protective of her puppies either. When anyone walks into the room, other than me or my wife, even if they do't touch her, she growls and I notice her constantly trying to cover them with the towel in her box. I have never seen this much over protection from a dog. What causes this problem? I don't want to have it happen again in the future.

I think you found out the cause- stress. That's one of the biggest causes of agalactia (lack of milk) in bitches. The couple possible treatments would be Oxytocin injections or Metoclopramide (Reglan). They have limited efficacy, but may be worth trying. I think the end result will be you hand raising the puppies, but it's worth a shot.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

You mean she can mentally stop her own milk production? Are those basically anxiety pills? And can the local veterinarian give those shots?

Well, milk let down is controlled by dopamine receptors. These are also used to control the "happy centre" of the brain. The anti-depressant meds work at this Seratonin-dopamine axis. When a cat is overly stressed, it throws off that axis and then they get lack of milk production. Metoclopramide is actually used to prevent vomiting, but it acts at that dopamine centre, so it also has use for these dogs. The Oxytocin is more helpful if you give it just before whelping, so probably not a good choice here.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

So you would try the Metclopramide at this point and then if no luck, tomorrow get puppy formula. Right? And do they make bottles and nipples for puppies this small?

Yes, I'd try the Metoclopramide and also get puppy milk re-placer at the same time. Yes, they make puppy and kitten bottles. We use them all the time and they are sold at both pet stores as well as grocery stores and vet hospitals.

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Okay new problem. I actually have a spare bedroom that is totally empty. I put the box in there with the puppies and the mother and within 1 minute the damn nosy cat which loves that room for some reason went in there and a huge fight ensued. This is certainly not low stress for her. I didn't want to close the door to the room so she felt like she was being punished or isolated, but what the hell can I do here. I am frustrated. I have never had a problem like this, all my other litters the mothers let anyone pet the puppies and pick them up and they never stopped lactating. I am so confused. I will go get the shot tomorrow as long as the local vet will give it to me. He's kind of a jerk and if you aren't always in there with your pet approx every 6 months or so he doesn't want to help you with out a full set of shots etc.

If you have a baby gate, that would work to keep the cat out. Otherwise, just close the door and go check on them every couple hours (when you're in there bottle feeding). The Metoclopramide is an oral medication, not an injection, so you'll be giving this at home. Oxytocin is an injection, but I think we're a little late for that just based on the physiology behind the milk production and let down.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I see every thing seems to go back to when I'm bottle feeding them. I am trying to avoid that because I am gone for 10 hours a day working. So this is not going to be easy. They are going to starve to death, if they have to rely on me to feed them. That's why I really need her to feed them. Can I buy this oral injection through this website? Petsmart perhaps? Or does it have to be the local vet?

No, Metoclopramide is a medication that you'll need to get from your vet. It's not available over the counter. The DEA would be awfully mad at us if we prescribed meds through this site as well. I hope I've drilled it into you enough about the bottle feeding cause I really do think that's going to be your life for the next 4 weeks. I wish I was more optimistic that she'll make milk but the majority do not. I hope I'm wrong! 10 hours is going to be too long between feedings, so you'll have to either swing by and do a feeding at some point during the day or have somebody come to the house to get a feeding done.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Wow, okay I am sorry to bother you this evening. I know I have taken up a lot of your time and I am truly sorry. I do not have any relatives other than my mother that are alive, and she won't be feeding them as 3 weeks ago, she had a quadruple bypass. I have no other living relatives on either side of our family and my wife and I both work over 30 miles away from the house, I'm gone 10 hours a day, and she's gone 12. There is no way to get back here to feed the puppies. Either she will have to feed them milk, or I'll feed them when I get home, or they will have an extremely unfortunate demise. Not what I want for them at all, but it will be unfortunately the end result. I certainly hope she feeds them. I understand your perspective but I cannot change mine either. Goodnight and thank you for all your help this early Friday morning. I hope if she has another litter she treats them better.

No worries, that's why we're here. If they have to go 10 hours then that'll have to be how it is. Could they die.... possibly. Hopefully not and I hope they get every last drop out of mom before you get home. You will likely be coming home to some awfully hungry little pups. Good luck with them!

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I am confused, Even though the mother seems to be dried up, the puppies wil not take the bottle I am trying to give them. It isn't working. What do I do? They only want to drink from the mother who has no milk, or at least I can't get any out of her nipples. Is it possible that she has milk and I am wrong?

Well that's strange. She may have milk and you're just having a hard time getting it out. Did you get her seen?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

My local vet would not see me today. I told you he's a jerk. But I know if you start very low on the flesh below the nipple and lightly squeeze and raise my hand till I pull my two fingers off the tip of the nipple, milk should come out. It did on all the nipples, every other time that I tested them until yesterday. Now nothing at all, she doesn't produce at all, but the puppies want to suck on her anyway. I try to feed them by bottle to no avail. I presumed they would want to have milk by now, but I guess not. How can I tell when its been long enough and I have to force them to eat without suffocating them by squeezing formula into their lungs??

I would expect them to be pretty lethargic if they had not eaten in the last 24 hours. I'm guessing that they're getting something out of mom. I would still try to bottle feed them. Sometimes you need to squeeze some formula into their mouth so they know what it is and then keep working until they suckle.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Yeah I tried that and didn't get too much success. I squeezed te bottle and sprayed some in 3 of their mouths and tried for a couple minutes to get them to suck on the bottle, admittedly their stomachs still look wider than their rib cages so I dont think they're starving yet. Anyway they seem to complain a lot and need to feed every hour now and that is not normal. I don't think they ever get full.

Good, it sounds like they're getting the hang of it- slowly. Every 2-4 hours is plenty. Hourly is just them being greedy.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Lol, no sir. I meant they feed off the mother every hour still and that is obviously not right. That is why I feel like she has no milk left in her. I'll keep trying with the bottle, it might be better if the mother would just go away and let them alone. They all want their mother. Well, goodnight again.

I don't have much else to add... It sounds like she's making milk given the time period and lack of dead puppies.