Nursing dogs rarely need assistance in slowing and stopping milk production. When the puppies are weaned and the mother dog goes back to her normal feeding schedule, lactation will naturally slow and stop. Take time to care for the mother dog during the weaning process. If the milk production doesn't slow as expected, avoid home remedies to dry up your dog's milk without consulting your veterinarian first. If necessary, your vet will likely prescribe a safe medication to stop lactation.
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Wean the puppies
Weaning the puppies is the best way to dry up the mother's milk. This is a natural process and most dogs will dry up naturally with no additional help or treatment necessary. Weaning can begin when the puppies are 3 weeks old. Begin by placing puppy food soaked in water in a small dish in the pen for the puppies to eat, along with a water bowl.
During this time, you should gradually allow the mother more time away from the puppies. As the puppies have likely started to grow teeth, the mother will be ready to spend more time away as nursing can become painful for her. Continue to decrease the amount of time the puppies have with the mother until they are fully weaned at around 6 weeks of age.
Prevent and treat mastitis
During the weaning process, the mother's milk production will decrease as the puppies feed less. This is a gradual process and you should not expect the milk to dry up overnight. Avoid removing the puppies from the mother suddenly as this can cause her to develop mastitis.
Your veterinarian can treat this with antibiotics and pain medication. She may also recommend you hand-milk the mother for a period of time and apply a cabbage leaf to the enflamed areas, which VCA Hospitals says can help further decrease pain and inflammation.
Adjust food intake
While the mother is nursing, you should increase her food supply to accommodate for her increased energy needs. As the puppies begin the weaning process, the mother will not need to produce as much milk. Gradually decrease the amount of food you give her. The decreased calorie intake helps to decrease milk production.
Medication to stop lactation
If lactation doesn't stop after the puppies are fully weaned, it can become painful for the mother dog and she may develop mastitis. Cabergoline is a medication your veterinarian may prescribe to help dry up your dog's milk. It works by decreasing the hormone prolactin which stimulates milk production. Give your dog the oral medication twice per day in the dosage recommended by your veterinarian based on your dog's size.
Home remedies to dry milk
Always consult your veterinarian before using any home remedies to dry up dogs' milk. Many home remedies may actually put your dog and her puppies at greater risk. For example, in humans, there is some evidence that certain herbs, such as parsley and jasmine, may help dry up a woman's milk.
However, you should never use parsley to dry up dogs' milk. Parsley contains furanocoumarins and is toxic to dogs. It can cause dermatitis and sun sensitivity. While your dog may not suffer ill effects from a small amount, don't risk the health of your dog or her puppies. Instead, consult your veterinarian to get a prescription to reduce lactation that is safe for your dog.