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 !
"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.“ Benjamin Franklin. If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it! Good way to spread information inside our PRO community! And stay in touch with us to get our latest updates, just click on one of the icons below!