When Does A Mother Dog Stop Eating Its Puppies’ Poop?

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Is It Normal For A Mom Dog To Eat Puppy Poop?

The majority of dog owners become worried- and disgusted!– when they first see a mother dog eating their puppies’ poop.

Little do they know, this behavior tends to repeat itself over and over again! At some point, the shell-shocked owner is probably going to wonder in exasperation,

“Just when does the mother dog stop eating its puppies’ poop?!”

As off putting and unsanitary as it might look, you don’t need to be too worried! Believe it or not, this is perfectly normal behavior for a mother dog.

Also referred to as coprophagia, the act of dogs eating feces is natural and happens for various reasons. These reasons can either be medical or behavioral, depending on how and why it happens.

Common Causes Of Stool Eating Behavior In Dogs

Close up of cute, adorable little dachshund puppies dogs newborns lying next to mother.

There are two main reasons as to why a mother dog may start eating her puppies’ poop. Both are perfectly natural evolutionary behaviors that are normal for an adult dog to perform when they are in the process of weaning their newborn pups.

Therefore, you don’t need to be too worried! Here are the two reasons:

1. Protecting Puppies From Predators

This one is a top example of evolutionary behavior still persisting in domestic dogs despite the historical basis for it long being extinct.

The number one reason as to why mother dogs eat puppy poop is to reduce any trace that would otherwise allow predators to track (and eat) their canine infants!

As you might imagine, this is more applicable in the past or in the wild where the mother dog would have to protect her litter from being devoured by hungry enemies.

2. Cleanliness

The other major reason as to why mother dogs eat their puppies’ poop is to keep the den clean and dry. By doing so, a mother dog will always have a clean place to lie down when the time comes to feed her little ones.

Additionally, keeping the nesting environment dry helps to keep the puppies themselves healthier. Very young puppies between 2 to 4 weeks of age rely on their mother to keep them clean and tidy as self-cleaning habits have not yet developed at this stage.

Puppies in the neonatal stage are at an elevated risk for hypothermia, and rolling around in their own muck would heighten the risk of illness.

Therefore, by eating her puppies’ excrement, the mother dog is making sure that her babies have the highest possible chances of survival!

Additional Reasons For Dogs Eating Their Puppies’ Poop

It is possible for mother dogs to eat their puppies’ poop for reasons other than the most common ones mentioned above.

In these cases, this habit may not have been instigated by natural reasons. The main unnatural reasons that can cause a dog to develop a habit of eating her puppies’ poop include (but are not limited to):

  • Stress
  • Boredom
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Craving attention
  • Hunger
  • Bad digestion
  • They simply enjoy doing so!

In the majority of cases, it is quite rare for a mother dog to eat her pups’ poop as a result of these unnatural causes.

However, if she partakes in the behavior for a longer period than usual, it may be due to one of the reasons above and the best thing to do would be to consult with your vet!

Can You Stop A Mother Dog From Eating Her Pups’ Poop?

Newborn jack russell terrier pups, mother takes puppy in mouth to move in a whelping box.

Behaviors such as aggression and eating puppy poop are considered natural in a whelping dam. As such, a breeder is usually not required to intervene regardless of how unnerving such behaviors might be.

Attempting to stop your dog from eating her pup’s poop can cause unnecessary anxiety and potentially ignite a myriad of issues such as malnourishment of the newborn puppies, mastitis for the dam, and more.

A mother dog should only be prevented from eating her young ones’ poop if the behavior is accompanied by aggression towards the puppies. If such behaviors arise, it’s recommended that the owner seeks assistance from their vet.

Can My Dog Get Sick From Eating Her Puppies’s Poop?

One of the major concerns for owners is that the mother dog may fall sick as a result of eating puppy poop.

Though there are obvious, good reasons for this trepidation (they are eating poop, after all!), you don’t need to be overly worried that your beloved mother dog will become sick.

At this stage of their development, the newborn puppies usually only have one source of nutrition: their mother’s milk! As such, the poop that results is about as simple and as pure as it can get.

Dogs have stronger stomachs than humans and eat all sorts of nasty things (like maggots) without falling ill, so a little puppy feces as intended by nature won’t do too much harm at all!

When Does A Mother Dog Stop Eating Puppies’ Poop?

Labrador mother dog with puppies in background

As a diligent dog owner, the next question that may be popping into your mind is, “When does a mother dog stop eating puppies’ poop then?”

The answer: Mother dogs usually display this behavior of eating their pup’s poop for approximately three weeks. This coincides with the period where puppies usually start eating solid food (or semi-solid mush) from around three to four weeks old.

As young puppies switch gradually from feeding on their mother’s milk to eating food that is specially made for them, the dam will usually also stop eating their poop.

There are various reasons as to why this may happen, such as:

  • The puppies’ poop no longer carries a strong scent that can potentially attract predators
  • The mother dog no longer needs a clean space to lie since there is no more nursing
  • The dam no longer likes the taste of her puppies’ poop after they have switched to eating other foods.

Whatever the reason, a mother dog should naturally cease eating the poop of her litter when they are aged around three to four weeks. At this point, cleaning the area where the adult dog and her young ones reside becomes the job of the owner.

How Do I Clean My Dog’s Mouth After Eating Puppy Poop?

Yorkshire terrier at the teeth cleaning procedure

After your dog has eaten puppy poop, you will definitely want to clean its mouth to get rid of any lasting remnants.

We have a whole extensive guide here on how to clean a dog’s mouth after it eats poop, along with product recommendations and step-by-step instructions!

The short version- There are two main effective ways to clean your dog’s mouth:

Method One: The Quick Clean

This method is fast and simple, and it involves the following steps:

Provide Food And Water

When you give your dog some food and water, they will naturally produce saliva as they eat and drink. This saliva in turn helps to clean their mouth, and the water will further rinse away any residue and germs.

Offer Dental Chews

The main reason behind giving your dog a dental treat is that the friction created from chewing will remove plaque and debris, which can then be washed away by saliva or water.

Use A Cloth To Wipe The Mouth

Wrap a piece of gauze or cloth that has been previously soaked with saltwater or coconut oil around one of your fingers. Hold the dog still and insert the piece of cloth into the side of the dog’s mouth.

Wipe the outer sides of the dog’s teeth and gums, as well as the roof of the mouth and tongue (if the dog will let you!).

Use A Vet-Approved Mouthwash

Add a commercial doggy mouthwash or safe DIY additive to your dog’s water bowl for it to drink! Alternatively, you can also use a mouthwash-soaked cloth to wipe your dog’s mouth. Avoid using human mouthwash as they contain harsh chemicals that can be very harmful to canines.

Method Two: The Toothbrush Method

This method requires the use of a doggy toothbrush and dog toothpaste. You can also use a child’s toothbrush if you don’t have access to a dog’s toothbrush!

When brushing your dog’s mouth, focus on the outer side of the mouth since your dog will most likely not let you touch the inner side.

Be sure to brush gently and with a lot of patience, especially if you are doing it for the first time. You can also use treats to encourage your dog to let you brush its teeth. Once you are done, wipe off any excess toothpaste using a damp cloth wrapped on your finger.

Again, if you would like to read more extensive instructions on how to clean your dog’s mouth after it has eaten poop- click HERE!

In Summary

It is pretty normal in the canine world for a dog to eat poop- and especially for a mother dog to eat its puppies’ poop!

As soon as her puppies are born, a mother dog’s natural instinct is to protect them from harm as well as to keep them as healthy as possible.

Eating their poop helps to accomplish both of these objectives, as the absence of puppy excrement lying around means less visibility to potential predators as well as a drier, cleaner nursing environment.

Therefore, while it might not be the most appealing habit, it is a natural one. There is no need for you as the owner to intervene and stop your dog from performing this behavior, as that can cause undue anxiety and aggression.

Instead, allow your dog to follow its instincts! Usually, a dam’s poop-eating tendencies stop on their own when the puppies are around 3 weeks of age so there’s no need at all to become overly concerned.

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