Mastitis is a serious worry for pregnant dogs and their owners. In this post, our Orlando vets answer questions about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of mastitis in female dogs.
What is mastitis?
Mastitis is when a female dog's milk glands swell and might get infected.
Mastitis typically occurs after a female dog gives birth as a result of an at-home birth site that has not been effectively sanitized or from weening the newborn puppies too early. There are a few different types of mastitis that a dog can develop.
- Acute Mastitis. When the mammary gland swells painfully, potentially leading to the mother's avoidance of feeding the pups or lethargy.
- Septic Mastitis. Inflammation of the mammary gland leads to heat, pain, milk discoloration, and potential sickness in the mother.
- Non-septic Mastitis: Inflammation of the mammary gland that is not caused by bacterial infection.
- Chronic Mastitis: Swelling of the mammary gland that lasts long-term. This type of mastitis is not as visibly obvious as other types as it does not share their symptoms.
- Gangrenous Mastitis. Blackening of the teat, sometimes accompanied by darker stomach tissue, as well as illness in the mother.
With all of these different types of mastitis, owners of expecting mother dogs may want to know how to identify postpartum mastitis.
What does mastitis look like in dogs?
Mastitis in dogs can have different symptoms, some affecting the mammary glands and teats, which may or may not make the mother dog feel sick. Some types of mastitis can change the color of the teat or milk and even cause bleeding.
Here are some common mastitis symptoms in dogs:
- Swelling of the teat or mammary glands
- Discoloration of milk/discharge
- Refusal to feed puppies
- Fever in the mother
- Depressive behavior
- Changing blood pressure or heart rate
If you notice any of these symptoms in your postpartum pup, contact your vet immediately.
What are the causes of mastitis in dogs?
There are a few common causes of mastitis in canines that owners of pregnant dogs should know in order to prevent the condition from developing. Some of these causes include:
- Bacterial or fungal infection of the teat or mammary area in pregnant dogs
- Loss of newborn puppies
- Milk clots or backed-up milk
- Unsanitary whelping box
- Damp birth site
How to treat mastitis in dogs.
Now that you know the signs, symptoms, and causes of mastitis in dogs, you might be wondering how to treat it.
To diagnose mastitis first, your veterinarian will perform a full physical exam and sometimes collect necessary information on the mother's pregnancy and labor.
Treatment depends on the severity and type of mastitis. It can include antibiotics or surgery. If the month is still nursing, smiling the glands is necessary until the infection clears. This also helps monitor swelling, heat, and other conditions in the heat. Apply mild cold compresses can make your dog more comfortable.
In general, mastitis is usually fairly treatable at home. Consult your vet for best practices with your pup suffering from mastitis.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.