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Mastitis in Dogs: Everything You Should Know

Mastitis is a common condition in female dogs that can cause swelling and inflammation of the mammary glands. Our Mankato veterinarians have gathered some helpful information on the signs, causes, and treatment of mastitis in dogs.

What is mastitis?

Mastitis is a condition in which the mammary glands of female dogs become swollen, and it can also lead to infection.

This condition usually occurs after a female dog has given birth, and it happens when the birthing site is not properly sanitized or when the puppies are weaned too early. Different types of mastitis can affect dogs.

  1. Acute Mastitis. When the mammary gland swells painfully, potentially leading to the mother's avoidance of feeding the pups or lethargy.
  2. Septic Mastitis. Inflammation of the mammary gland leads to heat, pain, milk discoloration, and potential sickness in the mother.
  3. Non-septic Mastitis: Inflammation of the mammary gland that is not caused by bacterial infection.
  4. 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.
  5. Gangrenous Mastitis. Blackening of the teat is sometimes accompanied by darker stomach tissue and illness in the mother. 

With all 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?

The symptoms of mastitis in dogs can vary, as some symptoms affecting the mammary glands and teat may or may not cause further signs of sickness in the mother herself.

As mentioned, some types of mastitis will lead to discoloration of the teat or even discoloration of blood in the milk. Here are some common symptoms of mastitis 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
  • Vomiting

If you notice any of these symptoms in your postpartum pup, contact your vet immediately.

What are the causes of mastitis in dogs?

Owners of pregnant dogs should know the common causes of mastitis in canines to prevent the condition. 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 may want to know how to treat your pup.

To diagnose mastitis first, your veterinarian will perform a full physical exam and sometimes collect necessary information on the mother's pregnancy and labor. 

Depending on the severity and type of mastitis that your dog has, treatment can come in the form of prescribed antibiotics or even surgery. If the mother is still nursing her newborns, the vet will likely ask you to milk the glands until the infection is completely cleared gently.

Milking the glands will also allow you or the vet to check on the level of swelling, heat, or other conditions of the teat. Mild cold compresses may also be beneficial to help your dog feel a bit 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.

Want to learn more about how to prevent or treat mastitis? Contact our Mankato vets today.

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At River Hills Pet Care Hospital our experienced vets are passionate about improving the health of Mankato companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's appointment.

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