The process of drying up a mother dog's milk is a natural one encouraged by removing puppies 4 weeks and older from the mother for a few hours each day. Nursing puppies empty the mammary glands, signaling a need for more production. As the puppies consume less milk for their needs, the glands reduce and eventually stop milk production.
Under ideal circumstances, the weaning process is gradual, and milk production reduces slowly. Once puppies reach the appropriate age for weaning, owners begin introducing them to small amounts of solid puppy food in a bowl during the time they are away from their mother. Owners should gradually increase the amount of solid food the puppies receive. If the vet has put the adult dog on puppy food during pregnancy, owners should gradually convert her diet back to adult dog food during the weaning process.
Permanent removal of the puppies before weaning leads to excess milk production by the mother, which is often painful for her. If the mother continues to produce milk after the puppies are weaned, there is the potential that she could develop an infection in the mammary glands, known as mastitis. Owners of a dog who continues producing milk after weaning puppies should contact a veterinarian.