If you have a dog and she has just had puppies, the most natural instinct is to want to leave her alone with them. Unfortunately, this can be bad for both your puppy and your dog. This article will outline some of the reasons why you should not leave your dog alone with her puppies.

Can I Leave My Dog Alone With Her Puppies?

Mother dogs are instinctively able to protect and take care of their puppies. However, if you want the best possible outcome and the full health of all of the litter, it’s best to stay with your nursing dog and her pups for the first few weeks.

You will need to give a lot of effort and energy into watching and taking care of newborn puppies. The best way to do this is by preparing as well as possible and doing your research to make sure that you know what you are doing.

You’ll be busy supervising and providing for the newborn dogs after the mother gives birth, so you will have plenty of time to observe the litter and make sure that everyone is safe. Let’s go through the process of taking care of newborn puppies as well as the mother:

Whelping

Whelping is the name of the process of helping a mother dog give birth to her litter.

The process usually lasts between three and twelve hours. However, if your dog’s labor takes longer than that time frame, you should seek veterinary attention immediately because it may mean there is something wrong with either mom or baby.

You should not disturb or touch them during this time period as long as she doesn’t seem uncomfortable or in pain. Once the mother dog has given birth, you will want to make sure that all of the pups have been born without complications before you touch them.

At first, the mother will become restless and may begin to pace around the room. At this time, her vulva will begin to swell and expand in preparation for the birth. She will have contractions, but they won’t be visible.

Next, the mother will start to give birth to her pups. This can take as long as 24 hours, but will usually take a half-day or less. Contractions will become visible and fluid will start to form on the vulva. There will be about 20 to 60 minutes between the birth of each puppy and the mother will need to rest and recover between each birth.

When the birthing process is complete, you will want to offer the mother some water and food as well as very carefully giving her an opportunity to go to the bathroom. If she has urinated or defecated at all during the birthing process, this is a good time to clean up the area.

Then you can let the family settle down together. Make sure that the new puppies are suckling on their mother and close enough to be warm. Help reposition crying pups by placing them closer to the mother’s belly.

Suckling and Nursing

Suckling is a natural and instinctive process by which the mother dog feeds her new pups. They will feed and nap regularly in a two-hour cycle for the first week. This process is extremely important because it provides a puppy with minerals, proteins, antibodies, and antibiotics.

You’ll want to pay close attention to the mother’s milk supply. If her nipples start to get red or look irritated, you should take the puppies off of them for a few hours and then put them back. If this doesn’t help, it may be time to seek veterinary assistance.

You’ll also want to make sure that the puppies are well-fed and are at the appropriate weight. You can weigh them on a kitchen scale or purchase an accurate set of scales.

Weaning the Puppies

Weaning is when puppies start to eat food and stop drinking milk. This can start as early as four weeks, but it’s best if you wait until the puppies are six weeks old.

You should start by gradually replacing one feeding of milk with warm water or a canine milk replacement, while still allowing the mother to nurse the puppies as she wishes.

After a week of this, remove one feeding entirely, and gradually reduce the amount of milk in each feeding. You should be able to remove all of the milk from their diet by three weeks of this process.

You can then introduce the puppies to mush, which is a mixture of canned puppy food, water, and some moistened dry kibble. You can then gradually reduce the amount of canned dog food in this mixture until the puppies are eating solid food.

Puppies may need some help with this process and you can use your finger to place the mush into their mouths. You can also use a soft rubber or silicone puppy teething toy to feed them.

You may need to supplement the mush with a canine milk replacement or some water if their intake starts to drop below normal levels. Make sure to watch them carefully during this process to make sure that they are gaining weight and beginning healthy eating habits.

With this process, your puppies can be eating puppy food exclusively by 7 to 8 weeks old.

When Can I Leave My Dog Alone With Her Puppies?

Puppies should not be left alone with their mother for the first several days of their life, just to make sure that there are no immediate problems. After a couple of days, it should be safe to take small trips, such as to the grocery store once every day.

It’s advised not to leave a new mother alone with her litter for longer than 4 hours during the first week. After the first week, make sure that you or someone else is checking on the mother and pups every 6 hours.

How Much Time Should a Mother Dog Spend With Her Puppies?

Puppies should stay with their mothers for at least 10 weeks in order to develop properly. After this time, their mother will start to spend less and less time with them as she starts the weaning process.

The puppies will play with their siblings during this time and learn how to socialize by sharing sleeping, pouncing, biting, and playing rituals. They will learn boundaries, limits, and how to interact with other dogs.

During the first 10 weeks after birth, the mother should remain with her puppies as much as possible. She should only separate from her children when she is going out for bathroom breaks. She may even refuse to leave them for any reason during the first few days, so you will need to gently persuade her to step out a few times a day.

Can a Mother Dog Suffocate Puppies?

It’s possible that a mother dog could accidentally smother or crush a puppy while she is sleeping if she rolls over on it. In order to prevent this from happening, you should be there whenever the mother dog and her puppies are together.

A new mom may inadvertently step or sit on a puppy by accident while they’re nursing or playing with their siblings. Make sure that the mother dog has plenty of room to move around and that her puppies are out of harm’s way.

There are other potential problems that can occur when you leave a mother dog alone with puppies, which is why you or a trusted replacement should watch the new family as much as possible. Here are some other complications that can occur if you’re not present to watch the new puppies:

Sick Puppies

It’s important to watch for puppies that look like they are sick. This can look like a puppy that is not nursing for long periods of time, a pup that isn’t as active as the others, or one with runny stools.

Your mother dog may have parasites, which she could pass on to her puppies. This is another reason why you should make sure that your new dog is on a regular parasite preventative.

The mother may start pushing the sickly puppy away from her and may even eat the sick puppy as a way to give her other pups the best chance of survival, as well as a way to prevent predators from coming near the litter.

If you see a sickly-looking puppy in the litter or notice the mother pushing the puppy away, you should separate the puppy and take it to a veterinarian for treatment immediately.

Young Mother Who Was Bred Too Young

Dogs shouldn’t breed during their first time in heat, which can occur anywhere between the first 6 to 12 months in a dog’s life. It’s important to wait at least 2 heat cycles before beginning to breed a female dog so that it is fully developed hormonally.

If a dog is bred too young, she may not have high enough levels of oxytocin hormones yet. This is the hormone that prompts the mother to constantly bond with her dogs. You will need to support her and constantly bring her pups to her or ask a vet for help if she is struggling with bonding with her litter.

Too Big of a Litter

A mother who has recently given birth may be stressed by a large litter. If the litter is too big, she may start to ignore some of her puppies or even attack them if they are not getting enough attention and care from the other members of her pack.

You should make sure that a litter is no more than four puppies in order to prevent this from happening. You can also help by making sure that the mother dog has plenty of food and water to feed her pups as well as a cozy place for them to sleep and play.

If you see that a mother dog is starting to push any of her puppies away from the litter, keep an eye on her for signs of aggression. If she continues to ignore the puppies or even becomes aggressive, you should separate them from each other and take them to a veterinarian for help.

A Stressful Home Environment

A mother dog will be stressed if she’s in an environment where there are too many people, loud noises, or excessive handling of the pups. If she feels that the environment is unsafe for them to be in, she may start to leave them by themselves or even begin ignoring them.

A mother dog will also have an easier time bonding with her litter if the pups are in a calm and quiet environment. You should make sure to keep your home as stress-free as possible.

Nursing Issues

A mother dog may start to ignore her puppies or aggressively push them away from the milk bar if she’s having issues like mastitis, which is when the mammary glands become inflamed, or if she is suffering from a vaginal infection after whelping.

Make sure the whelping area is as clean as possible to rule out that the nursing issues stem from an unclean environment. You’ll also want to make sure that you feed the mother enough so that she can produce a healthy amount of milk.

If nursing problems persist, talk to a veterinarian about giving the mother a dose of antibiotics to make sure she doesn’t have an infection that could spread to her puppies.

How To Supervise Newborn Puppies?

Supervising newborn puppies is not difficult, but it does require constant supervision. Do your best to stay with the mother at all times so that you can make sure she’s caring for her pups properly and remove any dead or sickly ones immediately.

If a puppy seems ill, don’t hesitate to take it away from its mom in order to give it a proper diagnosis and treatment. Do not leave the mother dog with more puppies than she can possibly care for, as this will make her stressed and possibly even cause her health problems.

If you have any questions concerning your dog’s new litter of pups, contact your veterinarian immediately so that they can help you out. Unique questions may come up because of your specific experience.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.