Why Do Dogs Eat Their Puppies?

why do dogs eat their puppies

When a mother dog gives birth to a litter of puppies, it’s one of the cutest things and a wonderful experience you’ll ever see. When a new species is born, it has the potential to bring something new and exciting. To care for their newborn puppies, mothers show an automatic maternal bond from the start.

Dogs cannot express their emotions in words, but because their smell, taste, and touch senses are superior to humans, they express their affection for one another by licking, touching, and even eating.

Several dog breeds, including Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers, have a strong maternal instinct and are well-equipped to care for their puppies.

Nonetheless, not all dog pregnancies go according to schedule. Unexpected circumstances can cause puppies’ deaths, mothers may abandon their pups, and a female dog may even kill and eat her own young pup.

Reasons Why Mother Dogs Eat Their Puppies?

do dogs eat their own puppies

Female dogs may eat their puppies for various reasons, some of which you have no control over. However, in most cases, when a dog eats her puppies, it happens right after the birth or within the first few days after giving birth.

Most of the time, female dogs eat their pups within a few days of their birth. So it’s not just a problem for dogs. However, if you know why dogs eat their puppies, you can better assess the situation with your litter and decide whether or not to intervene.

Dogs do not share our social and same moral compasses. There are numerous reasons why dogs may eat their puppies.

Accidentally Eat Stillborn Puppies

It’s not always deliberate, especially for first-time mothers or those who are still in their young age. Inexperience may be the root cause of the problem. When a puppy is born, the mother uses her teeth to free her baby from the birthing canal it was born in. A puppy can die from the accidental killings if the procedure does not go according to plan.

The mother can also eat the placenta or birthing sac to get nutrients depleted during the pregnancy. The premature death of a puppy in the womb is not uncommon. If the mother doesn’t recognize it as a puppy, she may eat it in response to accidental cannibalism.

Mothers in foster care are known to eat their dead puppies. However, some mothers may not be able to distinguish the hormones of dead puppies from their own. Consequently, they are oblivious that one of the pups has died.

Unhealthy Puppies

Puppies that are weak and sickly at birth are a rarity. However, due to their illnesses, some pups will be at risk for various health issues. You may be able to tell when a puppy isn’t feeling well after birth, but Mom can, too.

will dogs eat their puppies

If a dog breed is known for having a large litter, there may be too many puppies for the dog to handle. She may have to make the difficult decision to remove a sick puppy from the group if she has one.

Her options are limited; she can either try to save that puppy’s life or put them out of their misery. In most cases, mothers are the ones to take care of this.

Because the death puts an end to the suffering of the sick pup and ensures the survival of the rest of the litter, this would be considered a mercy killing.

Stressful Time

Motherhood is a tumultuous experience for anyone, regardless of their species. You and your dog are dealing with an entire litter of wailing puppies. Stress can cause female dogs to make poor decisions. Preventative measures must be taken to alleviate her stress.

why do female dogs eat their puppies

But make sure you’re not adding to her stress level and don’t get into a fight with her. Intervening during her mental crisis puts you at risk of making it even worse or being attacked yourself.

It’s not uncommon for mothers to growl, bark, and even bite their pups. Predatory instincts can lead to cannibalism in extremely rare cases, though this is extremely rare.

Other than making sure your female dog has plenty of love, food, and attention, there isn’t much you can do to help relieve her stress. Mothers and newborn puppies are better off without the male dog, as this has been shown to increase stress levels in both.

The time leading up to and immediately following the birth of a child is a difficult one for any mother, whether she is human, canine, or some other species. Unfortunately, your dog may make poor decisions due to stress and exhaustion.


Mastitis is a severe condition for both the mother and her fetus. Many health complications can arise from Mastitis; for example, after the birth of a baby, the breast tissue can become infected. In addition, feeding her puppies will be difficult if her teats become inflamed, red, and sensitive.

Although puppy nursing replacement kits are available, it is always preferable for a female dog to feed her pups their mother’s milk independently because it is more nourishing for the puppies and an excellent way to bond with one another.

Mastitis requires proper veterinary attention. Without it, a dog’s mother may continue to feed her puppies despite being in considerable pain. Unless a female dog receives medical attention, her pups may begin to reject them, or she may abandon the litter altogether. Occasionally, she will kill and eat her puppies to cope with her grief and suffering.

Those feelings of helplessness make moms more likely to lash out at their puppies. As a result, some pups will reject or abandon the entire litter if they don’t like one or more puppies.

However, Mastitis can be treated with proper attention and care. Make sure that the puppies are getting the nutrition they need by getting them checked out by a vet as soon as possible. However, you may have to bottle-feed them until the mother is ready to resume caregiving duties.

Hormonal Issues

The dogs produce hormones during the birth of a litter and they are responsible for establishing a maternal bond and identifying the puppies. However, the release of these hormones isn’t always guaranteed, especially in the case of a Cesarean section or other unusual delivery methods.

why do mom dogs eat their puppies

Aside from eating their litter, this is one of the most heartbreaking reasons. If a dog cannot identify her puppies as her own, she may turn to cannibalism. This could be due to hormonal issues.

Dogs have a strong prey drive, making them excellent predators. Think of the squirrels and rodents that your dog chases around the yard. But, compared to a newborn puppy, they aren’t much larger. Also, the mother canine may not know where she is when awakened by a group of newborn crying puppies she doesn’t recognize.

When it comes to hormonal issues, most mothers will experience them at some point in their lives. For example, cesarean section patients may return to their families within a few days or weeks. You must therefore follow your veterinarian’s after-birth instructions for your new dog-mother.

Too Young to Be a Mother Dog

Puppy mill owners are only interested in increasing the number of litters each female can have, which is why this is a significant issue. As a result, dogs may be forced into motherhood before they’re ready, with disastrous results for the puppies.

why do dogs eat their babies

When a dog is bred too early, it lacks maturity and cannot properly care for anything, especially the new puppies. An unprepared mother can exhibit behaviors that are not maternal. Cannibalism may be an option for her to get out of her situation or abandon a litter because she doesn’t have maternal instincts.

It is recommended that a buck wait until she is at least a year old before having her first sex. But the maturation rates of different breeds vary. Therefore, it is best to wait until a female dog is at least 18 months old before breeding her.

Even if you don’t have a puppy mill in your neighborhood, accidents can still happen. As soon as your dog gives birth, you’ll need to be on the lookout for signs that she’s preparing to eat her litter.

It’s yet another reason why spaying and neutering dogs are so critical. You can save the lives of many puppies by taking this type of action.

How Can You Prevent Cannibalism in a Female Dog?

In the natural world, cannibalism is an unavoidable fact of life. However, dogs are adorable, loving animals who are friendly, loyal, and obedient to us.

It is essential to remember that they are, after all, animals. You may drastically reduce the chances of your dog eating her puppies by following the veterinary-recommended preventive steps.

For the first step, try to reduce noise and keep individuals and other dogs away from the delivery site as much as possible.

To prevent your little mommy friend from eating her puppies, you should consider a crate with a cover in the weeks before your dog’s birth so that she can get used to the idea that it’s a safe place to be.

Her worries about making her bed will be eased by using a liner, which is soft, long-lasting, and even machine-washable. Relaxed expectant mothers are more likely to be good mothers after birth.

If you feed your pregnant dog a high-quality diet, she’ll have the nutrients and energy she needs to take care of her pups and her own life after such a complicated birthing procedure. In addition, by whelping, her food intake should have increased by up to 25% to ensure that she has sufficient body weight gain and nutritional reserves.

If you notice that all of the puppies are alive but that the mother has rejected one or more of them, you should take the puppy to the veterinarian to determine what is happening.

If you suspect your dog is suffering from Mastitis, get immediate medical attention, separate the puppies after birth from other puppies, and feed them with a bottle until the mother recovers.


The majority of dog births are uncomplicated and require no human intervention. However, keeping a close eye on the situation is good if anything goes wrong.

Having you there with your dog may also be calming for her. The most important thing is to avoid taking control.

The best way to avoid any cannibalistic behavior is to keep a close eye on the situation. Make sure to keep an eye on the puppies’ health and development and the mother’s actions and interactions.

You can separate the dog and consult with your veterinarian if you notice any red flags, such as aggression or other disobedient behaviors.

Ramona Gray
Ramona Gray from New Orleans is a lifelong canine enthusiast and particularly in love with German Shepherds. In fact, She currently has three dogs – a German Shepherd, an American Eskimo, and a Huskie named Max, Bex & Toby! Dogs just make the world go round! And as a self-proclaimed "dog geek", Ramona likes trying out all the latest dog gadgets and technologies on the market and loves sharing her experiences with other pet owners. When she's not playing with her dogs or enjoying an iced coffee in her hammock, Hope likes to keep up with the advanced tech trends in pet-world.

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