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Toxic Milk Syndrome in Dogs

Can puppies get sick from their mother’s milk? The answer is yes.

Toxic milk syndrome in dogs can be caused by various conditions, such as nutritional issues, uterine infections, and the most common cause, mammary infections. Regardless of the cause, it's crucial to treat the mother promptly to maintain her milk production and ensure the health of her puppies.

How Do I Know If My Dog’s Milk is Toxic?

Puppies may refuse to nurse if the milk has an off taste. Some may become sick, but most will cry excessively, become dehydrated, and potentially die. This issue appears to affect large breeds more than small breeds, though any breed can suffer from toxic milk syndrome. During the first two weeks, puppies should only eat and sleep. If you notice discontented puppies, check the mother for signs of infection.

How Do You Know If Your Dog’s Milk is Bad?

Check the mammary glands by gently rubbing them to ensure they are soft and pain-free. This action will also stimulate milk letdown. Express some milk from the nipple and observe its appearance. Clear, blood-tinged, or chunky milk is abnormal and requires treatment.

How to Treat a Dog With Toxic Milk Syndrome

If your dog shows signs of toxic milk syndrome, get her on an antibiotic as soon as possible. Since E.coli is a common cause, veterinarians typically recommend Sulfa-Trimeth, which is easy to use and usually effective.

Caring for Newborns

Supplement the puppies' feeding as they may not be getting enough nutrition from their mother.

  1. Warm the litter for 30 minutes and then feed a hydration solution like Puppy Lyte to boost energy and hydration.

  2. Continue warming at 100º F for another 30 minutes, then provide a milk replacer like Foster Care for dogs.

  3. Reintroduce the puppies to the mother to nurse if they are thriving.

  4. Consult your veterinarian for further treatment if a puppy appears sick and may need antibiotics.

How to Prevent Toxic Milk Syndrome

Preventing toxic milk syndrome involves ensuring the mother receives proper nutrition. A complete daily prenatal vitamin and a lactation support supplement can go a long way in preventing many health issues.

  1. Daily Prenatal Vitamin: Give a complete prenatal vitamin to support the mother's health.

  2. Lactation Support: Seven days before birth through lactation, give a supplement to support milk production. Healthy mothers lead to healthy puppies.

Hygiene is also crucial: Bathing the mother before whelping can reduce the risk of mastitis by removing bacteria from her skin that could infect the mammary glands. Between baths, using wipes to keep her glands clean and safe for nursing can help. Additionally, probiotics have been suggested to reduce the risk of mastitis.

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Toxic Milk Syndrome in Dogs
Toxic Milk Syndrome in Dogs


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