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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Abscence of Milk (Agalactia)

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Condition Overview

Milk may be absent because it has failed to let down or because the dam is not producing milk.

Symptoms

The damn is not producing milk.

Causes

Failure of Milk to Let Down

Most mothers instinctively encourage their puppies to suckle soon after delivery. Suckling stimulates the release of oxytocin from the pituitary gland. Oxytocin is responsible for milk letdown. A nervous, frightened, or stressed mother may discourage her puppies from suckling, or may release a hormone (epinephrine) that blocks the action of oxytocin.

Failure of Produce Enough Milk

True agalactia can be suspected if the female's breasts do not develop in late pregnancy. This condition may have a genetic basis. These puppies must be hand fed using artificial milk.

Occasionally, a dam with a large litter is incapable of producing enough milk to satisfy all her puppies. The most common cause of insufficient milk production is failure to feed the mother an adequate number of calories, especially during the second or third weeks after whelping, when nursing demands are the greatest. This problem is entirely preventable.

Diagnosis

Failure of milk to let down, which resembles galactostasis, should be suspected if the mammary glands are firm and swollen but no milk is found in the teat canals.

Treatment

Puppies who are no receiving milk should be raised by hand. Between supplements (while waiting for the dam to being producing) it is important to encourage suckling to continue breast stimulation. Once the milk comes down, the dam will usually accept her puppies.

Failure of Milk to Let Down

Examine all the nipples to be sure they are all open, fully formed, and erect. A deformed nipple may cause difficulty in suckling. A recessed nipple can be improved by massaging it to stimulate the flow of milk and then putting a vigorous suckler directly on that nipple.

This problem can be solved with oxytocin. It may be necessary to repeat the oxytocin during the first 48 hours.

Failure of Produce Enough Milk

There is no way to make a dam produce more milk. If the mother is constitutionally unable to produce enough milk, her puppies should be supplemented with artificial milk.

Prevention

Feeding a pregnant dam high quality food during pregnancy may reduce the instance of failure to produce enough milk. High quality foods will be locally manufactured, contain no by products, corn, wheat, soy, "meat", or other non-beneficial ingredients. Ideally, the food will utilize clean, human quality foods, prepared in a sanitary facility.

Support

Please contact your veterinarian with questions regarding these conditions.

Show Sources & Contributors +

Sources

Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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