Why Do Dogs Eat Their Puppies?

Dogs giving birth is always a reason to rejoice, especially when you meet the adorable newborn puppies. The celebration may, however, become anguish when the momma dog turns on her pups and eats them. You heard that right; dogs can eat their puppies.

It is a rare occurrence, but it happens. You may have encountered such a scenario, which left you confused, as it is something you do not expect.

Why do dogs eat their puppies? How can I stop this behavior? Is it normal for dogs to eat puppies? These are some questions many people have when they catch their canines going against the norm. An in-depth look at this topic will answer these queries and many others.

Why do dogs eat their puppies?

Why is My Dog Eating Her Babies? The following are possible reasons why your doggo is eating her pups.

1. Keeping the Litter Safe

At times, not all the puppies born are healthy. Some may be sick or have defects that reduce their chances of survival and may infect the litter. The mother dog’s instinct will kick in, prompting it to kill the weakest offspring.

While this may seem harsh, it is more of a mercy killing and focuses on the bigger picture; if all the puppies get infected by one sick pup, then the mum may lose all her offspring. It is like Darwinism at play. The good thing is that veterinary medicine has evolved, and you can save sick puppies, giving them another shot at living healthy.

2. A Way to Get Rid of Stillbirths

Dogs, too, experience stillbirths, where the puppies are born dead or die during delivery. Your dog may eat the dead puppy or discard it by burying it.

During birth, you may notice that dogs eat their placenta. As the canine eats the placenta and umbilical cord, it may encounter the dead puppy. With no reflexes from the dead pup, the mum will eat it the same way it does with the afterbirth. This should not be a cause of alarm as it is your doggo’s way of cleaning up.

3. An Inexperienced Mum

First-time mothers and dogs that give birth when young are more prone to displaying cannibalistic behaviors. It is a situation many breeders experience, as some do not consider the dog’s age; the focus is on the offspring for business.

The first-timers and juveniles are inexperienced in motherhood and may act out by eating their young ones.

4. Stress

Giving birth is stressful and may take a toll on the mother. The environment may also be unbearable, with people staring and disturbance from other dogs. All these stressors can push the new mother to the wall, and it can react by eating its pups.

Most of the time, the doggo will be very unpleasant if you intrude on its space. The dog will bark and howl and even show its teeth. Cannibalism is usually the last move in dealing with a stressful situation.

5. Hormonal Problem

When dogs give birth, it undergoes hormonal changes that allow them to recognize and want to bond with their young ones. In case of hormonal problems, like an imbalance, the dog may fail to recognize its offspring. It may attack and eat them, as it feels they are intruders, coming too close for her comfort.

You may notice such a situation when a dog undergoes cesarean birth, as they do not get the hormonal stimulation from natural birth. In this scenario, the dog eats the puppies to protect its space. Its aggression may go overboard, resulting in the death of the entire litter.

6. Mastitis

Mastitis is the inflammation of the breast tissue, making the nipples painful, warm and swollen. It becomes a problem during birth as breast milk is the primary source of nutrition for puppies; they will try their best to have a nipple in their mouth.

The sucking action can worsen the inflammation, invoking aggression from the mother. It may get overly aggressive due to the pain and kill its babies. With the puppies dead, the canine can eat them for disposal.

7. An Accident

It is a mother dog’s instinct to clean its puppies after birth. It cleans the young ones by licking and biting off the dirt. Accidents may happen, whereby the momma doggo may injure and ultimately kill its pup when cleaning it.

8. Genetics

It is well-known that dogs are descendants of wolves, which eat their offspring. A dog’s wild side may come knocking once in a while.

Trained dogs are less likely to act in this manner. You will most probably notice this habit in stray dogs, with some eating feeble offspring due to hunger.

9. Attention-Seeking

Dogs crave our attention and can pull strange tricks from their hats to alert us of their presence. It can be a probable reason behind eating puppies, especially if we give them more attention than the mothers.

How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Their Puppies

As you can see, it is not a normal thing for dogs to eat their offspring. The following are measures to implement to curb this behavior.

Separate the Weak Puppies

Weak puppies are more prone to ending up as momma’s snacks. You can prevent their demise by separating them and having a vet check them out. With proper medical attention, the puppies will get back in shape and be able to compete for breast milk with their siblings.

You might want to keep the separated pups away from the mother, as, during reintroduction to the litter, the mum may fail to recognize them, triggering an aggressive response. A suitable move is to rear them separately, using formula milk for puppies.

Moreover, you should separate the young ones from their mother if you notice the mother acting strangely.

Give the New Mother Some Space

Stress is a cause of cannibalism in dogs. You should ensure that the new mother is in a stress-free environment by creating a special shelter where she can enjoy her space. Avoid frequenting its shelter to prevent it from getting anxious or depressed. With time, it will be comfortable and more welcoming of your presence.

Reasonable Breeding

As a breeder, it is prudent to employ reasonable breeding measures. Do not breed underage or ill dogs, as they may act up after giving birth.

Also, provide the right environment for first-time mothers to shelter them from anxiety, which can lead to cannibalism. Provide food, water, and other needs to have them in excellent form.

A Vet to the Rescue

Your vet can help with several situations, such as mastitis. After diagnosis, they can put the canine on meds to control the inflammation. Meanwhile, the offspring can get nourished by formula milk until the mother recovers and is comfortable breastfeeding.

After giving birth via C-section, the vet can develop an intervention for the mother dog and puppies to bond. They can also inspect the momma for any mental defects that may lead to cannibalism.

Furthermore, routine checkups when your dog is pregnant will reduce the chances of it undergoing cesarean birth.


Dog training is the answer to impulsive behavior your furry buddy may develop, like eating its puppies. Hand the leash to an experienced dog handler to train your canine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is My Dog So Aggressive to Its Puppies?

Several factors can cause your doggo to be overly aggressive to its offspring. Stress is one of them, commonly among first-time or juvenile mothers. Sometimes, it is the hormonal shifts causing the behavior. Sickness of the puppy or the momma may be another cause for the hostility.

It would help if you prevented things from getting out of hand by taking the puppies away, you’ll notice the antagonism immediately. Additionally, call your vet for professional help.

Can Male Dogs Kill Puppies?

Male dogs rarely kill puppies, but they can. Reasons for the act include perceiving the young ones as competition. Elimination of the puppies favors their position in the pack.

The other reason for killing the babies is to trigger the estrus cycle in the mother canine, where it will be ready to mate again. Male dogs may also kill pups for being too loud and disturbing their peace.

Why Do Dogs Eat Dead Puppies?

Dogs eat dead puppies to dispose of their bodies properly and mask the scent that may attract other predators. Lactating mothers may feast on their dead young ones to satisfy their protein needs.

Final Thought

Finding your dog eating its puppies is alarming and may leave you disturbed. Your dog may act this way for many reasons, such as sickness, hormonal shifts, stress, and poor breeding practices. You must act fast if you notice your dog acting hostile towards its puppies. Separation is an excellent move that can save your litter.

Also, consult your pet doctor immediately to help you understand the root cause of the situation and possible remedies.

Similar Posts