What Can I Do if My Dog Won't Feed One of Her New Puppies?

Written by bridget coila
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What Can I Do if My Dog Won't Feed One of Her New Puppies?
A well-fed puppy is a happy puppy. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

When your dog has a litter of adorable new puppies, it can be stressful on everyone if she suddenly stops feeding one of them. Letting a tiny canine go without food can be dangerous, but figuring out how to handle this delicate situation can be confusing. Fortunately, a puppy whose mother won't nurse him doesn't need to starve, since there are plenty of things to try and commercial puppy formulas available if you need to feed him yourself.

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Addressing the Reasons

If you can figure out the reason why your dog has stopped feeding her puppy, you might be able to solve the problem so she starts nursing again on her own. You should check over the puppy to make sure that it is capable of nursing properly. Some puppies might have a birth defect that makes nursing painful for the mother or may be ill with a fever or diarrhoea that makes the mother reject the puppy. If the puppy seems fine, make sure that the conditions around the mother dog and puppies is comfortable and not noisy or stressful.

Potential Solutions

Check the puppy by touch to see if he is cool to the touch. Sometimes a mother dog will reject a puppy that is too cool, so slowly warming up the puppy with a heating pad may solve the problem. You might also try physically attaching the puppy by having one person hold the dog and pet her while another person latches the puppy onto her nipple. The hormones released during nursing might cause her to identify the puppy as hers and reignite the nursing relationship.

Feeding Puppies Yourself

Sometimes, nothing works and a mother dog refuses one or more puppies for no discernible reason. If this is the case, you can feed the puppy yourself with a special puppy formula. Don't use regular cow's milk because this type of milk doesn't have all the nutrients a growing puppy needs. You can feed your puppy using a regular baby bottle or through a special tube. You can start to add a semi-solid mixture of puppy food and water to the diet at about three or four weeks old and can completely wean the puppy at about six weeks.


If the mother dog refuses to nurse all of her puppies, not merely one, she might have a serious condition called eclampsia. You need to bring her to a vet for evaluation and treatment if this is the case. Even if your puppy has begun to nurse regularly or if you are hand feeding, you should weigh the puppy daily for at least the first two weeks to make sure he is getting enough milk or formula.

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