Why Will Dogs Eat Their Puppies?

The arrival of a litter of pups is frequently anticipated with bated breath. However, this incredible incident is occasionally tainted by tragedy. Puppy fatalities sometimes happen, and the dam(mother dog) is sometimes the apparent cause of these deaths. 

Mother dogs are known to consume their puppies on rare occasions.  Although it is easy to be enraged by the mother dog’s acts or to be worried or repulsed by them, there are a variety of reasons why she might hurt or kill her puppies.

While this is a sad subject, it is critical to comprehend why this occurs—dogs do not share our social and moral notions. With that said, this post will walk you through all that you need to understand—why dogs may sometimes eat their pups. Right away, let’s get to the nitty-gritty.

Why Will Dogs Eat Their Puppies? 

Puppies in their first few weeks of life move frantically and produce high-pitched sounds. These habits are similar to those of prey animals like mice. Although any dam can prevent cannibalism, these dogs may feel forced to devour their puppies if they do not recognize them as their own.

Why Will Dogs Eat Their Puppies

An inexperienced mother dog may not recognize her puppies as her children. Furthermore, due to the lack of hormones released during natural birth, dogs that have undergone cesarean sections may not acknowledge their progeny.

Other Reasons Why Dogs Eat Their Puppies 

1. Unhealthy Puppies

It’s still possible for newborn puppies to become unwell and die. A puppy’s growth might be hampered by respiratory issues, infections, and a variety of other health issues. After birth, you should be able to detect problems quite soon.

When puppies don’t spend time with the rest of the litter or can’t muster the energy to eat, there’s a significant risk they won’t live much longer.

Newborn puppies with a sickly, diseased appearance—mother dogs, just like you, can recognize those signs. When the mother realizes that other puppies rely on her for survival, she will have to make a difficult decision.

Either she can devote her time and energy to nursing the puppy back to health, or she can put them out of their distress—mothers, in most cases, will do the latter.

The puppy’s killing and consumption eliminate the health risk for the rest of the litter. It’s a compassionate dispatch that puts an end to the pup’s agony while also ensuring the group’s survival.

2. Stress

For moms of any species, giving birth is a stressful experience. Your dog is exhausted, afraid, and responsible for a litter of howling puppies. Female canines sometimes make poor decisions as a result of stress.

Mothers are capable of barking, growling, and even biting their darling pups. Predatory impulses set in, which in rare situations can lead to cannibalism.

Other than giving your female dog plenty of love, food, and attention, there’s not much you can perform to relieve stress. It’s ideal for keeping the male dog isolated from the dam and puppies, as this has been shown to boost stress levels in both.

Make sure you aren’t adding to the tension—you risk enraging her if you try to intervene and separate her from her puppies. She might lash out at you, so be cautious.

3. Mastitis

Mastitis is a dangerous disease that affects the mothers of dogs. It’s a postpartum infection of the breast tissue. Teats might become swollen and reddish. They also become compassionate, causing a lot of problems for the mother and her litter.

After birth, puppies must be able to feed on their mother’s milk. While humans can feed puppies with bottles and formula, it is always preferable for them to eat what their mothers provide. Not only does it provide additional nourishment, but it also serves as a valuable bonding exercise.

Why Dogs Eat Their Puppies


Feeding your Mastitis-affected female dog can be very unpleasant. They will be in excruciating pain as soon as the puppies latch on.

Because of the anguish, mothers are prone to lash out at their puppies. Some people will even reject the puppies or discard the litter as a whole. Mothers have been known to kill and consume puppies in extreme situations.

Mastitis is a hazardous condition but can still be cured. To manage Mastitis and ensure that those puppies are getting the nutrition they require, seek veterinary attention as soon as feasible.

4. Hormonal Issues

Some female dogs turn to cannibalism for various reasons, one of which is that they do not recognize the puppies as their own. Canines create a variety of hormones throughout the birthing process. Some of them are in charge of recognizing the pups, which triggers the maternal connection.

What happens, though, if certain hormones are not released? If the dog was born unusually, this is relatively common—if the pregnancy is dangerous, a cesarean section may be required.

Veterinary surgeons perform a cesarean operation to remove puppies from the womb. The hormones aren’t always released since the puppies aren’t born through the birthing canal.

It’s worth noting that most mothers will experience hormone difficulties later in life. That’s why, after the pups are born, it’s critical to follow your veterinarian’s instructions. After the cesarean procedure, they may be released a few days or weeks later.

To avoid unintentional kills or cannibalism, most people will remove the mother from the pup until she receives those crucial hormones.

5. Bred Too Young

Finally, a dog may eat her puppies because she was not ready to be a mother. Female dogs should not become pregnant during their first heat cycle, according to an expert dog breeder.

This is because those dogs are still young—they’re just old enough to be a puppy and are not ready to take on those parental obligations.

Prematurely pregnant dogs are notorious for being unfit moms. In most cases, inexperienced young mothers will abandon the litter. They’ll snap at the puppies and act in ways that aren’t typical of mothers. Cannibalism, on the other hand, is a possibility.

Now that we’ve seen why dogs eat their pups, what can you do to prevent this act? Let’s find out.

Cannibalism is an unfortunate reality of nature. We think of our dogs as sweet, loving creatures who are also loyal, sociable, and obedient. However, it’s crucial to remember that they’re creatures with animalistic tendencies. Although it is uncommon for a female dog to devour her puppies, it does occur. 

What Can You Do to Prevent Your Dog from Eating Her Puppies?

The following are some of the important things you can do to prevent your mother dog from devouring her young ones.

  • Puppies are extremely vulnerable to a variety of health problems after they are born. Keep a close eye on your pups throughout their first few weeks of life as pet owners to ensure their health and safety. You’ll guarantee that the mother doesn’t kill any puppies in her litter that are weak or aren’t doing as well as the others.
  • Observing the mother’s interactions with her litter and spotting any odd behaviours as soon as possible is also part of this process. As the dam’s owner, you should act as the mother second in command or the infants’ second mother. As a result, you must step in and do everything the mother dog cannot do for her puppies.
  • If you notice the dam is acting clumsily or isolating herself from one or more of her puppies, you’ll have to step in as the litter’s full-time mother for a while. If you hear muffled sounds, the puppies are in distress, and the mother may be abusing them.
  • It would help if you also verified that the puppies are healthy. Take both the mother and the puppies to the veterinarian within 24 hours of the birth to ensure that any medical issues are identified and treated as soon as possible. Furthermore, the doctor will check that there are no retained placentas that the mother dog might want to eat, harming the babies.
  • You’ll also have to assist the mother dog in providing food, warmth, and shelter to her offspring as the litter’s sound mother. This entails keeping the kennel warm with blankets and towels, as well as hand-feeding the pups who are too frail to feed themselves with tiny bottles or syringes. These behaviours will also aid in the stimulation of the mother’s maternal instincts.
  • It’s preferable to move the whelping box to a quiet and clean location to provide a tranquil and stress-free environment for the new mother and her litter. The mother dog will become more relaxed as a result, and she will be more likely to release the hormones that trigger sentiments of love and care for her litter.

Related Questions 

1. Why Would a Mom Dog Kill Her Puppies?

If a dog is agitated because the litter does not have a calm, secluded location to reside, the dog may kill the puppies. It’s possible that too many people are coming to observe the litter or that the litter is too large for the dog to handle. Some dogs, particularly new mothers, may be unable to identify their young as their own.

2. Do Dogs Eat Their Puppies if You Touch Them?

Touching young animals cause their mothers to reject them, according to a long-held belief. Rarely is this the case, and puppies are no exception. Family dogs are frequently forbearing of their favourite humans caressing their babies.

3. Why Is My Dog Biting Her Newborn Puppies?

This could be because of her illness, a pup that appears too frail to care for, or simply due to a lack of maternal instinct. This type of behaviour might start as soon as she gives birth or takes a few days or weeks.

4. Does a Father Dog Know His Puppies?

Male dogs do not recognize their puppies to give a simple response to this complicated subject. However, it isn’t easy to draw a complete conclusion. Male dogs are capable of comprehending that litter is now a part of the family. Besides, they can also tell if a litter belongs to a specific female.

5. How Do I Stop My Dog From Eating Her Puppies? (I answered this)

Although it is uncommon for mother dogs to eat their children, it does occur. You can best prevent this habit by keeping a close check on it. Keep an eye on the puppies’ health and growth. In addition, keep an eye on the mother’s interactions and conduct.

Bottom Line

Cannibalism or infanticide in dogs is a rare occurrence, although it does occur. In the event of first-time, inexperienced mothers, the chances of this phenomenon occurring are higher. As a predatory inclination, they may not identify the litter as their own and consume the puppies.

As a result, you must never accuse them—the best you can do is assist the mother dogs in relaxing and providing all necessary support. That way, they will take care of their children and give them a safe and healthy environment.

Canine Buddy

As a dog lover—who loves sharing new experiences, I decided to create the canine buddy blog to share what I’ve learned throughout the years managing my dear fidos. Of course, I went through several trials and errors before finding the best way to make a perfect match. Here, we are committed to only giving proven dog and puppy hacks—making you the best dog owner ever.

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