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By Marilyn Brotherton

I thought that some of owners, might be interested in reading one little talked-about subject regarding a bitch and her babies. Most owners only know about “from 10 weeks on” not the infancy period. If you’re squeamish, perhaps you should not read any further.

Our current dam, Kelly, is in the process of weaning her 8 week old puppies. I have always allowed the dam to decide when and how she will deal with the actual process of withdrawing her nourishment from her puppies to allow her mammary glands to dry up. We provide the actual puppy diet program that I have used for over 25 years, starting at 3 weeks and the dam does the nursing thing.

When these pups were 6 1/2 weeks old, Kelly was running down to the nursery to provide the nursing pleasure about every 4 -5 hours – and in about the same time frame, she followed her centuries-old instinct of vomiting up some of her partially digested last meal into the whelping box or the floor, as soon as she feels that her teats have been emptied by the kidlets.

Because she is a nursing dam, she has been on 3 -4 feeds a day, so she has been able to offer semi-solid food at will to her babies that is totally ready for an infant bowel to digest as often as she feels is necessary. It doesn’t matter to her that my husband and I fed the pups my prescribed diet an hour earlier, and the puppies NEVER turn down mom’s offering because of a full stomach! The first time this happened to me, (long ago,) – I scolded the dam, not realizing what she was doing. I smartened up in short order :-) They’re all just “doing what comes naturally!”

Not all bitches do this – but we have a very ‘broody’ blood line and all our females will nurse & nurture pups from other breeds, and grandmas will look after grandkids, even allowing suckling to continue on a puppy we may have kept here for a potential “keeper”, as long as the real dam is not present.

I laugh frequently with the articles and discussions by those ‘in the know’ of how far from the wild the current domesticated dog is from ‘the dog of the past. Usually this statement is used by nutrition experts on feeding requirements and dog foods – that we should not consider them carnivores and natural feeding is not required because they are no longer a “dog” but a family member. I often wish these experts could peek into our house and see how “lost” their instincts have become.


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