Why Does My Dog Separate One Puppy From the Rest?

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Canine mothers are overloaded with maternal instincts to provide care, protection, and nutrition to their newborns. Because puppies cannot see, hear or walk, they are completely dependent on their mother for survival.

The mother’s attention and care drives them to adapt well to their surroundings. 

While most dog mothers embrace motherhood instinctively without any support, a few can be seen neglecting or rejecting one of their pups on occasion. It may occur right away after birth or some days or weeks later. 

Your dog could be separating one puppy from the rest because it is born with an infection, congenital disability, or any disorder that makes it weaker than the rest and she does not want to spend time or energy on a pup that won’t survive. It could also be because your mom dog is in pain or under stress. 

There are a few more reasons that we’ll be discussing below, but the entire situation is problematic to contend with and needs immediate intervention on the owner’s part. 

7 Reasons Your Dog Could Be Separating One Puppy From The Rest

Yes, a mother dog can separate one of her puppies from the other. Since these little pooches are completely dependent on their mother for nourishment and survival, therefore a rejected pup would require immediate supportive care or veterinary intervention. 

To be certain that your dog is neglecting one of her babies, it’s important to look for signs such as the mother dog not licking her puppies right after birth, staying away from one of the puppies, or refusing to feed, which leads to excessive puppy cries. 

Here are some of the possible reasons why your dog could be separating one puppy from the rest: 

1. Maternal Instinct

A lack of natural maternal instinct may lead the mother dog to reject her puppies. This is due to low levels of oxytocin which usually rise while giving birth. 

Therefore, dogs who deliver their litter via a cesarean section are most likely to experience low oxytocin levels. Instead of behaving aggressively or showing indifference, she chooses to abandon or reject her babies. 

2. Canine Mastitis

One of the mammary glands’ most common postpartum infections is mastitis. This infection causes inflammation and swelling in the mammary glands leading to extreme pain and irritation. 

The pain will stop her from feeding one or all of her puppies. This situation should alarm you, and you must not allow any pup(s) to drink milk from the infected teats as it will be toxic to the pups. 

3. Postpartum Depression

A significant change in the hormonal levels of a mother dog right after she gives birth to a litter. The change leads to the production of lower levels of dopamine, causing the dog to manifest symptoms of depression known as postpartum depression

Postpartum depression can lead to feeling physically exhausted and emotionally withdrawn. This could be one of the reasons that the mother dog is neglecting her litter or one of the puppies she considers not worthy of her attention. 

Losing interest in the litter commonly manifests in postpartum depression in dogs. 

4. Overwhelmed State 

First-time dog mothers may feel overwhelmed due to the entire process of labor and experience of birth. They might feel they have too many puppies to take care of, leading them to neglect or reject her litter. 

Due to this state, she might reject one of her puppies who she thinks is weak or ill and pay attention to others who are healthy. 

5. Stress

Dog mothers may encounter extreme stress during labor or shortly after giving birth. It might lead to behaviors such as dissonance and avoidance. In extreme cases, she might completely avoid one of the puppies who is born with a defect and requires more attention and care as she is under stress herself. 

6. Unhealthy Puppies

If a puppy is born sick or weak, your dog may instinctively abandon or even kill it. The underlying theory of such instinct is that a weak pup has lesser chances of survival, so the dog mother is most likely to prioritize other babies over the weakling.

The first weeks with a puppy are very important, and you must know how to deal with your newborn puppies. 

7. Lack of Mother Milk

The extensive labor process can lead to excessive dehydration, causing a decrease in mother milk production. 

The unhealthy and weak puppy is separated from the rest when it comes to taking the feed from the mother dog. The other puppies may overpower the weakling and try to take whatever amount of feed they get. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does A Mother Dog Have A Favorite Puppy?

Canine mothers love every single one of their puppies. This instinct to love equally is influenced hormonally and stays until the puppies grow up. However, she sometimes favors one puppy over the others if it’s physically active and shows good behavior. 

Why Is My Dog Not Feeding One Of Her Puppies?

The most common cause for a dog not feeding her puppies is canine mastitis, a bacterial infection that can cause feeding to become difficult, causing pain and swelling. 

Why Does My Dog Keep Trying To Move Her Puppies?

The most common reason is to protect the puppies. Puppies have a scent that other animals can smell from afar, and therefore, if a mother dog feels their location isn’t secure enough, she will keep moving them to different locations., 

How Do You Know If Your Mother Dog Is Rejecting Her Puppies?

If your mother dog is keeping herself away from the litter for longer periods or refusing to feed them, she is likely rejecting her puppies. 

My Dog Just Had Puppies And She Keeps Sitting On Them

Mother dog laying on puppies is a protective instinct mother dogs exhibit after giving birth. It’s completely normal and there is nothing to worry about as long as she’s not being too harsh or rough towards the puppies.

Final Thoughts

As much as you want to avoid seeing your dog rejecting one or all of her puppies, it does happen. Make sure you are there for the rejected little pup. 

  • The mother dog may be separating one of the puppies because it is weak, and she doesn’t want to cater to the one who will not survive eventually. 
  • A lack of maternal instinct might be why a mother dog is not catering to her babies. 
  • Postpartum depression can also lead a mother dog to neglect one of her pups. 
  • In such cases, the dog owner needs to provide immediate intervention to the neglected puppy. 

The best thing you can do for a mother dog who has just given birth to a litter is to provide emotional and medical support to her so she can provide equal care to all of her babies. 

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