Dogs produce milk to feed their puppies in the first months of life. Sometimes, a dog will begin lactating after a heat cycle because of a hormonal imbalance that leads to a false pregnancy. When puppies are weaned or in the case of a false pregnancy, there are some things you can do to help your dog reduce her milk supply until she stops lactating.
Remove the puppies from the dog during the day to begin the weaning process (usually when the puppies are about four weeks old). Since milk is produced in relation to demand, the dog's supply will start to decrease if the puppies are nursing less.
Reduce the dog's food supply slightly when she begins weaning. Her body will respond to the reduction in food by producing less milk.
Apply cold compresses to the dog's nipples if they become engorged or if she seems uncomfortable during the weaning process. This will help reduce swelling and relieve pain. If her nipples are red or swollen, she may have a blocked duct, or mastitis. Apply warm compresses to the nipples to relieve pressure and clear blocked ducts, and watch her closely for infections.
The dog should stop lactating naturally within 45 days after the puppies are weaned. If she is still producing milk after that time, talk to your vet about hormone treatments to suppress lactation.
Refrain from touching or squeezing a dog's nipples if she's having a false pregnancy. This will only make her body think puppies are nursing and cause her to produce more milk.
Give a dog with a false pregnancy a little less food and water during the time she's lactating, which should speed the process of her milk drying up. If she's still lactating after two weeks, take her to the vet for further evaluation.
Get your dog spayed if you don't want to breed her. This will stop her heat cycles and false pregnancies, and prevent unwanted puppies.
If your dog is lactating because of a false pregnancy, consider contacting your local animal shelter to see if there any abandoned puppies needing a foster mother.
Tips and warnings
- If your dog is lactating because of a false pregnancy, consider contacting your local animal shelter to see if there any abandoned puppies needing a foster mother.