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Mastitis in Dogs: Everything You Should Know

Mastitis in Dogs: Everything You Should Know

Mastitis is a common infection in female dogs. In this post, our Lancaster vets answer questions about mastitis's symptoms, causes, and treatment in female dogs.

What is mastitis?

Mastitis is a condition of swollen mammary glands in female dogs, which can occur with or lead to infection.

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.

  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 that 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?

Mastitis in dogs can cause various symptoms, particularly affecting the mammary glands and tests. However, not all symptoms may indicate further sickness in the mother. Certain types of mastitis may lead to teat discoloration or even blood in the milk. The following are 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?

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.

If you suspect that your dog may have mastitis, it is important to know the signs, symptoms, and cause. However, you may also wonder how to treat your pup for this condition. 

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 may involve prescribed antibiotics or surgery depending on the severity and type of mastitis. If the mother is still nursing her puppies, the vet may recommend gently milling the glass until the infection is fully cleared up. Milking the glands will also allow the owner 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 the dog feel a bit more comfortable.

In most cases, mastitis can be treated at home, but it is always best to consult with your vet for guidance on managing this condition in your furry friend.

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 Lancaster vets today.

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