Canine mastitis is usually found in female dogs that are nursing a new litter of puppies, but in other instances can also be found in dogs when nursing is not the case. The causes and treatments are discussed below. If it does develop, get veterinarian treatment immediately, because this can quickly become fatal.
And, don’t think you’re off the hook if you have a male. Canine mastitis can strike ANY dog!
As your female dog’s body begins the changes brought on by the pregnancy, she begins to produce milk for the new litter of pups to come. After the birth of these puppies and their eager suckling, the mother’s nipples can become scratched, sore, and cracked from the hungry pups feeding. These conditions open the door for bacterial infection to enter into the milk ducts. This is what canine mastitis is and normally develops if the sanitary conditions the mother and pups are living in are not clean. In healthy female dogs their immune system will usually handle any minor infection, but her system can become unable to handle the bacterial infection in unsanitary conditions. If left untreated the infection can cause your new mom to suffer septic shock often leading to the death of the dog.
Your female dog can also develop this condition when not pregnant. When this happens your dog need immediate attention from the vet as this is usually caused by cancer of the mammary glands.
The symptoms to watch for in nursing moms include aggressive behavior due to the pain of nursing, loss of her appetite and fatigue, puffy redness of one or more of her nipples, the milk will look discolored, a very foul odor due to pus from the nipples, she will develop a fever and become lethargic and abscesses or scratches near the nipples. Identifying any of these conditions require close inspection and if you see one or more your dog needs immediate vet care so she does not develop a very serious bacterial infection in her blood stream.
The puppies can also be affected, because they’re possibly drinking infected milk. The signs to look for in the pups, according to this article on Dogs.LoveToKnow.com are:
- Distressed behavior (Crying, restlessness)
- Weight loss
- Eventual lethargy followed by death
The treatment for canine mastitis will be chosen by your vet. These can include applying moist, warm compresses to the affected area, using prescribed antibiotics, while at home always cleaning up the discolored discharge and keeping the area as clean as possible, and as a last resort your vet may perform a mastectomy.
While mom is going through treatment for canine mastitis the pups will need to be bottle-fed by you using puppy formula easily found at pet supply stores and online. If the pups are only a couple of weeks old you will have to wipe them clean of any discharge of body waste until they are able to do their “business” in the normal manner.
Have you had to deal with this issue? Please leave your thoughts and comments below.