Most dogs that are bred from will care for and raise their litter instinctively, and will dedicate all of their time to caring for their young and meeting all of their needs during their first few weeks of life. A dam rejecting her entire litter is rare, and rejecting one pup from the litter slightly more common, but still unusual-and this is a situation that few breeders or owners of a dog with puppies will ever have to face.
However, being a good mother does not come naturally to all dogs, and there are a range of different factors that can lead to a dam rejecting her litter-and if this does happen, it is important to intervene quickly in order to save the puppies, and ensure that they don’t die of neglect, or be killed by the dam herself in a worst-case scenario.
In order to be able to intervene, which may require removal of the rejected puppy or litter from the dam entirely, you must first be able to spot the signs that the dam is either not interested in caring for her pups, or is potentially going to turn on them and harm them.
In this article, we will look at some of the main warning markers of a dam rejecting her litter or one puppy from within the litter, in order to pre-empt a worst-case scenario. Read on to learn more.
Many people find it somewhat shocking that a dam would not care for her pups or would even actually try to hurt them, but there are a huge range of different factors and scenarios that can lead to this happening. Some of the most common reasons for a dam rejecting her litter include:
Even in the case of the scenarios outlined above, the vast majority of dams will still care for their litter properly, but if any of the above are relevant to your own dam, it is important to be even more vigilant about potential problems.
Generally, if a dam is going to reject her litter (or one or more pups from within her litter) this will happen fairly soon after delivery-either she will not show an interest and begin caring for them at all, or the problem will arise within the first week of their lives. The older the pups get, the lower the chances of a later rejection are. However, if the dam becomes ill or one of the pups are ailing, she may still reject them later on.
Some of the most important warning markers to watch out for include:
If the dam shows aggression towards the whole litter or one pup in particular, you must remove them immediately for their own safety. A dam is more likely to reject one pup than her whole litter, and often, this pup will be the runt, or ailing-so watch out for this in particular.
If the dam or any of the pups are unwell, or if the dam develops mastitis, prompt treatment and intervention may correct the problem, so you should speak to your vet immediately.
If the pups are not being fed or cared for, they may need to be hand reared or partially hand-reared, so again, talk to your vet about what is going on and your options.