My Dog Keeps Squishing Her Puppies – What Should I Do?

My Dog Keeps Squishing Her Puppies. Photo of a dog mother squishing a puppy.

You might be terrified to notice that your recent mama dog keeps squishing her puppies suddenly and inexplicably. What’s going on? What do you do? Take a look below.

Mother dogs can signal a few things if she is squishing her puppies:

  • The first one is that she has determined these puppies are not well and won’t survive, so she’s attempting to put them out of their suffering.
  • Another reason is that she doesn’t feel well herself and is trying to do the right thing by squishing her puppies so that they don’t suffer if something happens to her.
  • Less commonly, she could be rejecting her litter of puppies, or she might be accidentally squishing her puppies as she tries to move around her whelping space.

Why is my dog smothering her puppies?

As introduced above, there could be a variety of reasons as to why your mama dog is squishing her puppies. You’ll need to figure out which it is so that you can intervene quickly and save all of your canine lives as well as everyone’s mental health — including yours. Reasons include:

  • Her puppies are unwell
  • She is unwell
  • She is rejecting her litter
  • She doesn’t have enough space

Her puppies are unwell

Mama dogs are intuitive. Sometimes, they’ll sense something wrong with a puppy or a few of them. Perhaps they’re runts, or they can’t latch properly and nurse. They may even be injured from birth. If mama dog sense that her puppies are unwell or in pain, she can squish them. She can also bite and kill them and even eat them. 

To us, it’s horrifying, of course, but to dogs, this is a natural behavior that it’s done to save their puppy from undue pain and suffering — not to mention it helps her save her other ones with more resources and protection from predators.

If she seems to be acting differently with one or two, including pushing them away from nursing. In that case, this is a sign that she’s determined that something is wrong with those puppies in particular.

She is unwell

Mama dogs aren’t always intended to be mama dogs. It’s common for young mothers or those who have had litter after litter of puppies to be tired and, simply, unable to care for them.

When mama dog is not well, mentally or physically, she can intentionally squish some or all of her puppies. She does this either to quicken her death to focus on taking care of herself or because she knows that they won’t survive because she can’t take care of them.

She is rejecting her litter

The best way to understand this is like post-partum depression for dogs. For many reasons, mama dog may be rejecting her litter of puppies. It could be the entire litter or just one or two of them. In a situation where she is stressed or young, this is very common.

Some mamas will reject their puppies if they smell different, too. For instance, if you handle her puppies and then put them back, she may reject them. This is part of why wearing gloves is a good idea at first.

Unfortunately, rejection is typically permanent and can’t be reversed. Whether you know the reason or not, it’s a good idea to separate mama and her puppies so that you can keep everyone safe.

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She doesn’t have enough space

Accidental squishing and intentional squishing can be a lack of space. If she has a big litter, she may decide to squish a few puppies if there isn’t enough space to nurse. Or, the whelping space itself is too small to give her room to move around safely, so she accidentally squishes one or more of her puppies.

Can puppies suffocate under Mom?

Unfortunately, yes. Puppies can suffocate under Mom, and it is a heartbreakingly common discovery by those who check on puppy litters when Mom gets up. While you will want to defer to mama dog when it comes to caring for puppies, checking on everyone regularly is vital to help keep everyone safe, alive, and well.

How do you save a squished puppy?

It can be a terrifying and heart-stopping experience to discover that mama dog has squished a puppy. However, they can be saved in many cases. The most important thing is to stay as calm as possible and follow these tips:

  • Separate the puppy from the others
  • Check for breathing
  • Perform a light CPR routine on their stomach (see below)
  • Stimulate them by rubbing their bodies firmly with a blanket or your hand
  • Continue until the puppy responds

How do you do puppy CPR?

A vet will give you specific advice, which is a great idea. In an emergency, however, puppy CPR is:

  • Use one finger to depress your puppy’s stomach gently
  • Don’t worry about finding their heart or lungs, since they are so tiny
  • Press firmly and rhythmically for as long as you can
  • They will respond with tongue movements and spasms

If you successfully give a puppy CPR, take a breath and congratulate yourself — you did it! Unless you are a qualified vet yourself, it’s a good idea to bring a vet into your home and have a look at the puppy to ensure that they are okay.

Sometimes we can be a bit too aggressive in CPR, and having a vet check for internal damage as soon as possible is essential!

Is it normal for a mother dog to sit on her puppies?

It’s common for mother dogs to sit on their puppies, yes. Even in the best of situations, mama dogs will sit and lie on her puppies to offer protection from predators. Your mama dog could be the best one in the world as far as caring for her babies and still accidentally suffocate them.

Why is my dog biting her newborn puppies?

Biting is typical behavior with newborn puppies and mama. Remember that biting is always scary to us, but biting is a method of communication with mama dogs and puppies.

If your mama dog is just biting to communicate, you’ll notice her blend biting and licking and gently caring for them. Don’t intervene in this case, as the puppies are not at risk.

If you notice deliberate biting and chasing with puppies yelping and making other noises, you can take a look at what’s going on. Biting puppies to hurt them is often accompanied by growling and warning noises from mama.

Photo of a dog mother with her newborn puppies below her.

How do I get my mother dog to stop crushing her puppies?

A mama dog crushing her puppies is never a good thing, regardless of the intention behind it. It causes distress and intense sadness all around. To prevent infanticide (the formal term for the death of an infant puppy), there are some great tips to help you keep everyone safe and healthy:

  • Create a safe whelping space
  • Check on every puppy regularly multiple times a day
  • Diagnose underlying issues
  • Be ready to intervene

Create a safe whelping space

Firstly, create a whelping space that prioritizes everyone’s safety. The whelping box should be generously sized to help mama move her puppies into the middle and settle herself around the edges.

Also, put bumpers around the edges. These are called “pig rails” and create a space bump at the bottom of the box around the edges. If mama lies on a puppy, the puppy can move to the edges and escape being squished.

Check on every puppy regularly multiple times a day

You need to check on every puppy multiple times ad ay. It’s essential to make sure everyone’s breathing and safe and sound. Check to make sure all puppies are nursing evenly and that mom is paying attention to them all. If any baby is on its own with no attention, it’s a sign that she’s singled them out. This is typically a sign that she’s rejected them.

Diagnose underlying issues

This could be an issue in the puppies or the mama dog. For example, puppies born with a cleft palate can’t nurse properly. Mama dog will reject them. A vet can quickly diagnose this, and you can hand-feed them.

Similarly, mama dogs may have complications from labor and need some supportive care. Once she feels better, she can be a much better mother.

Similarly, a large litter will overwhelm mama dog. Make sure that you stay close, give her lots of assistance, and keep her calm and loved. This will help keep her calm and in control and give you time with adorable newborn puppies.

Be ready to intervene

Sometimes, a litter of puppies just can’t survive with mama dog. It happens to the best mamas and the worst. It can be heartbreaking to see her unable or unwilling to care for some or all of her puppies.

It doesn’t mean that she is a bad dog, but just that she isn’t capable of being a mother. You will need to intervene and take her puppies away to raise them as orphans.

Remember that this is done to protect her puppies and keep everyone healthy and safe.

Should I leave newborn puppies alone with their mother dog?

Mama dog is a great primary caretaker for her puppies most of the time. You can safely leave her with them, but you will want to regularly check on everyone to keep everyone safe and healthy. After all, mama dogs need external support like human moms do!

When can I leave newborn puppies alone with their mother dog?

Generally, the worry about mama dog squishing her puppies should disappear after the first several weeks have passed. The surviving puppies will be healthy and strong, and she’ll have appropriately bonded with them to prevent any intentional squishing. It will also be harder to squish puppies accidentally since they’ll be much bigger.

Should mother dogs sleep with puppies?

In the first few days and weeks after giving birth, it’s perfectly normal for mama dogs to sleep with their puppies. She needs to nurse them almost constantly, after all. As they get older, you may notice her moving to a separate part of the whelping box where she had can have a break and get some serious sleep.

Regardless of where she chooses to sleep, let mama dog come and go as she wants to, and make sure that you still check regularly on the puppies!

A quick reminder on your dog’s squishing of puppies

Since the idea of a mama dog intentionally squishing her puppies is unsettling to us — to say the least — it’s normal to lash out in anger or even hatred when you discover what’s happened. Regardless of whether you can save the puppy or not, it’s important to remember that dogs react differently than humans do to a particular situation. 

Mama dog is doing what she believes is best for her puppies, and punishing her for it will not change anything. If she continues to squish her puppies, you can safely remove them from her and raise them as orphans. If you need help wondering what to do in a situation with continual squishing, call your vet as soon as you can.

In conclusion

A mother dog squishing her puppies can be intentional or unintentional. Reasons could include:

  • Sensing a birth defect;
  • Rejecting her puppies due to feeling unwell herself;
  • Accidental smothering due to lack of maternal instinct.

Ensure that you know the signs to watch for to prevent any heartbreaking discoveries later. It’s always a good idea to keep a close eye on mama and puppies for those first few weeks!

While the squishing of puppies is an unsettling behavior, whether intentional or otherwise, it’s much more common than many think. Make sure that you know how to deal with it so that there is no necessary heartbreak.

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