[BLOG] Should we let them eat the placentas ? My opinion.

Do you guys take notes of things you are willing to do ? I plead guilty for that, I have a notebook full of blog post & webinar ideas. Ideas usually pop up when you don’t expect them, sometimes in the middle of the night or in the middle of a flight. So now, I write everything down. And I find it to be the easy step : turning the idea into something  real, that’s when things get more difficult !  

 

I realized how quickly time flies when I opened my notebook at a random page today. Here it was : six month ago I wrote this down : «  write a blog to share my thoughts on whether or not bitches and queens should be allowed, after birth, to eat the placentas. » Ok, I’m late… But better late than never, hey ? Today is the day ! 

 

I had writen this down because, while browsing the web, I had bumped on the following word : «  placentophagy ». Mmm, never heard about this one during my veterinary studies I thought. But that was ok, it was quite explicit : placentophagy = the act of mammals eating the placenta of their young(s) after birth. Even if the word was never really used in one of the classrooms I attended, this was a behaviour I heard about during my veterinary student years and that I  experienced during my time at the repro center in Paris. If you breed dogs or cats, I’m quite sure you are familiar with this idea ! 

 

What do we know about it in small animals ? Well, it is described as a « compulsive act » that happens very often right after delivery of a placenta. It very often happens after the mother cut the umbilical cord. And apart from that, well, we don’t know much : this behaviour is - still - poorly understood. And I quote this last sentence for a human medicine publication of 2016 ! 

 

You will indeed find a whole body of scientific literature on this very topic in humans. I’m not a human doctor so I won’t comment this practice but briefly, the idea is that the placenta retains hormones and nutrients that are beneficial to the mother. And these are the three main ideas you can find if you go through the scientific abstracts : 

 

- reduces post-placental depression ;

- enhance recovery by providing analgesia ;

- help boost milk production ; 

 

What is important however I believe is the following : 

 

" Strong evidence to substantiate these claims is lacking."   (see the abstract here

 

I encourage you to take a look at this abstract because it also describes associated risks that were reported. 

 

Coming back to dogs and cats : I believe that now that dogs & cats have access to proper nutrition, them eating the placentas right after birth does not bring any benefits. Nutrition-wise, the most important factor to boost and maintain lactation is energy : lactation is indeed the most energy-demanding lifestage our bitches and queens will go through.

 

That’s why we recommend to :

1/ Free-feed them ( that is the only time you will hear me say that ! ) during this period...

2/ …with a high calorie-dense diet (typically an appropriate growth - puppy or kitten - diet) ;

 

I’ve seen many cases of bitches/queens eating the placentas and then developing diarrhea for a few days (including my own bitch since I was not quick enough to remove the placentas). When you have newborn puppies & kittens around, that is NEVER a good thing. 

 

Because of that, I don’t recommend to let the mother eat the placentas during parturition.

 

And you guys, what’s your opinion ? Don’t hesitate to share with us your experiences !

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Comment by Cloudstone Kennels Perm Reg'd on November 3, 2016 at 2:07pm

My Toy Poodle had puppies on Oct 23rd 2016, 2 males 1 female

She refuses to eat the Placenta, instead she bury's it in the bedding, I always try to get to it before she does that and garbage it so as not to upset her. She really hates to even see it. Some have strange effects to things just like us humans. I have been boiling chicken hearts,& livers which she loves and give her a few every day  which I think help with the nutrition while they are nursing the first few weeks. She also gets the puppy dry food and never has ever gotten diarrhea.

Comment by Emmanuel PRO Technical Service on March 8, 2016 at 10:08am

Hello Sandra, just read your comments on cleft palates. We wrote a series of two blogs on this topic here are the links :

Part I http://royalcaninbreedersclub.ning.com/profiles/blogs/cleft-palates... 

Part II http://royalcaninbreedersclub.ning.com/profiles/blogs/cleft-palates... 

They might answer your questions. Let me know if you need anything else !

Comment by Emmanuel PRO Technical Service on March 8, 2016 at 10:06am

Thank you guys for sharing your thoughts on this topic ! Love to see the blog getting more activity !

Comment by Bellbrooke Labradors on March 5, 2016 at 1:08pm

I have always allowed mine to ingest them if they want. If they are busy with a pup I will remove them. I feel that there is a natural benefit in providing nutrition during whelping and increasing milk production while encouraging contractions. I have not had a problem with it.  I would also like to point out that most animals do this. I raise goats and they most often will eat the afterbirth , as do cattle and horses. 

Comment by Gryphon Registered Pugs on February 28, 2016 at 7:18pm

You must have been channelling my thoughts Emmanuel, we whelped a litter the night before you wrote this and I had a hard time keeping the dam away from the placentas after she gave birth. I agree, with the level of nutrition we are providing our dogs with these days, there is no real benefit in allowing her to eat the afterbirth. Any time mine have managed to get one before I could scoop it up, it was quickly vomited back up! Don't need the mess or the diarrhea, this behaviour in our domestic dogs is not serving a useful purpose anymore.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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