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Canine Mastitis is Deadly Serious

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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!

Canine mastitis

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:

Symptoms include:

  • Distressed behavior (Crying, restlessness)
  • Dehydration
  • 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.

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  1. Avatar Of Shelley



    I rescued a lab mix at age 12 she was not spayed until I got her after about 6 months she developed a tumor under one front teeth she was on antibiotics for 3 weeks tumor shrank but when antibiotics were done it grew bigger and will fill with blood very sour smelling vet aspirated but could not get enough cells they think it may be cancer but at her age I opted not to have surgery done and I do compresses because my experience has been that if it is cancer it will spread quickly this has been going on for about 8 months good appetite not a lot of energy but where I live it is very hot and humid almost 10 months a year we take walks she seems ok anybody out there with similar experience don’t have any history on her as usual with an abandoned dog

  2. Avatar Of Cait



    Any suggestions Tips PLEASE we are going through this now mama is home but not aloud to nurse them she had 11 all died but two they will be 5 days OLD TOMORROW July 7 2020! The trauma vet that was working on her wii early yesterday morning when my husband rushed her and three pups to emergency vet hospital they took mom kinda looked at the pups told him to keep them warm but didn’t give him anything to feed them knowing they was 4 days old :/ she was really bad ended up losing one end of the day yesterday! But no sign of mastitis! So is it ok to let mama see them while holding them so that she may not stress herself and heal faster?????

  3. Avatar Of Danielle



    My female pit had her first liter of puppies and they r 5 weeks old now and since they was three in a half weeks i been hand feeding them they r 5 weeks now!! Her teats r huge and red and hot!! There r scratches around her teats!! She eats and drinks and plays!! I been putting warm moisture one her teats and rubbing and keeping her relaxed!!! Im not able to get her to a vet yet!!! I need some advice!! Please help

  4. Avatar Of Tm Mcneill TM McNeill says:

    Can someone please help me or at least try? I have a 3yr old female Pitbull, she has had only 1 litter of puppies… That have long been gone! Then Suddenly… This past few weeks her nipple’s hv been swollen and red as if she was pregnant, but mind you she was in heat a month ago (wasn’t mated) she’s not in pain nor scratching at her nipple’s… I’m completely LOST ON WHAT’S GOING ON!

    • Avatar Of Brandy Arnold

      Brandy Arnold


      Are you absolutely, 100% positive that there is no way she could possibly be pregnant? Of course you’ll want a veterinary visit to determine what is happening, there are several things that could be happening… if you’re certain she can’t be pregnant, but recently had a heat cycle, she could be having a false or pseudopregnancy that would cause her nipples to swell as if she were pregnant.

    • Avatar Of Kathy Carlson

      Kathy Carlson


      I had a dog that had a documented false pregnancy.It resolved about 3 month’s later as we played with her a lotK

  5. Avatar Of Ree Reid Ree Reid says:

    I took my girl too the emergency vet and they drained the swollen gland by cutting it. The six pups were 2 weeks old and had to be hand fed. You have ti take quick action!

  6. Avatar Of Deepika A

    Deepika A


    My female lab going through false pregnancy from February had already treated mastitis more than 3 times but it comes again and again. We r worried about her…

    • Avatar Of Teresa



      My boxer had mastitis twice once while pregnant . She just had a litter of pups and No sign of infection and I check regularly. Also if u know your dog is pregnant give her a probiotic it helps keep bad bacteria to a minimal. And wash her boobs and privates daily with washcloth no soap.if not nursing I used a antifungal medicated shampoo once a week on her veterinary formula clinical care. Found at walmart in pet shampoo. It helped my boxer although dogs are different i hope it helps yours also. Probiotics are great for pets. As advised by my vet . 1 a day.

  7. Avatar Of Sharon Roof

    Sharon Roof


    My dog had this i took her to the vet. And vet did nothing .it burst and my poor baby had to be put to sleep.i have been devastated

    • Avatar Of Laura



      I am so sorry. I am at this point. I am so scared. The more I read, you know? You must feel in shock. My heart hurts for you.

  8. Avatar Of Debi Meyer Debi Meyer says:

    I have an appointment with the vet in the am… Giving my 2 year old Chihuahua baby aspirin until then.. Using warm compresses… No pups, no heat… She is swollen fairly hard, especially in one tete . Any body have any suggestions???

  9. Avatar Of Lori



    My 3 year old yellow lab suddenly developed what I thought was a mammary tumor. Although I got her into our wonderful vet the next day I cried a million tears knowing 50% of mammary tumors are cancerous. The swelling was rock hard, hot, and baseball size. I was so relieved to hear it was mastitis but other than the swelling my dog didn’t really act any different. At the vet she had a 104 temp and I realized how sick she was. We were given antibiotics, Rimedyl for temp and pain, and I put Epsom salt hot packs on it 3 times a day. Four days later it is gone but she will get her full 14 days of antibiotics.

  10. Avatar Of Jayne



    If your not a Vet or a Vet tech get the bitch in to the Vet immediately. I am a tech so I know what to do and what meds to give. I had mastitis on my Show bitch. The breast needs to be drained and all the pus and infection out, plus tranquilized to get it out. Then put on Meds and watched carefully. Again, you are not a experienced Breeder or a Vet tech like I am get to the Vet immediately. 30 years ago my Vet couldn’t save the bitch.

  11. Avatar Of Tft-Lover



    My little rat terrier got mastitis a few days before her pups were due.. she started crying & biting if you touched her underbelly.. she had a ceasar, was put on meds, and i had to bottle feed her babies from birth. She didnt even realize she had pups..just went on with her cheerful life! The beautiful pups all survived, and i must also thank my very old toy foxie who started cleaning them, and slept with them to keep them warm.. she also got a little bit of milk, not enough to nourish /feed the pups, but they got mothers-love from her!

  12. Avatar Of Tricia



    Our Labrador had her first litter of puppies (7). She is two years old. Her puppies are almost 4 weeks old. We have been bottle feeding them since about 2 1/2 weeks because she would not stay with them long enough for all seven to nurse plus only 6 teats had a good supply of milk. They have scratched her badly and part of her nipple is gone. At 3 1/2 weeks old now we have given the puppies a plate of milk and another plate of canned dog food. The puppies have teeth and use bathroom on their own. We even give them a quick bath with no shampoo yet. We allow her to get in the closet where she had puppies and she lets them nurse about 5 minutes and she is done I know eventually this will come to a stop. I have been concerned with mastitis but the only symptom she has is not letting pups nurse much and being tired. Her milk is normal in color no bad smell.

  13. Avatar Of Baddbitch baddbitch says:

    help 911… my female pitbull jus had her first litter of 11 but 1 didnt make so 10 beautiful puppies… shes n lots of pain discomfort she wont sit/lay down for nuthin shes litterally falling asleep standing up she is definetly isnt herself,,,, what could b wrong like this isnt my Karma i had b4 these pups…

    • Avatar Of Kelly-Brooke



      My Pitt just gave birth 2 weeks ago. 3 days ago I rushed her to the ER for animals because she was acting the same way. The rushed her into emergency surgery because she had a dead puppy inside her. She birthed 10 puppies so the last thing I thought was that she possibly had one more. She developed PYOMetra and also has mastitis. She is very ill. Get your Pitt to the vet asap, she will die if not treated now.

  14. Avatar Of Sanjay Daryanani

    sanjay daryanani


    I had a 2 year old female dog that gave birth to 4 puppies, the puppies are still alive
    but the mother died mysteriously after four weeks due to something of the unknown. My caretaker says she had nothing to do with it but i think she killed my dog and so im gonna be gettin rid of my maid cause im real uset at her. I loved that dog so so much and it hurts terribly… My dog was not sick or anything before she died, the maid said it was sudden but i dont believe her…

  15. My girl is a week away from having her babies. I took her to the vets two days ago. When the vet did an ultra sound, she shaved her belly. Now she has irritated this area, which she has been scratching. One of her nipples as been scratched. If my girl gets this mastitis, I’m going to be one pissed off customer!!!!

  16. Avatar Of Karen Terry

    karen terry


    My female bichon frise is not spaded. I rescued her and after the last two heat cycles she went through, she started carrying around one of her furry toys like it was her baby and she developed milk in her breasts. The first time, the milk looked normal but the last time, the milk had a green tinge to it. She missed her last expected heat cycle but she seems ok. I was told to let her have a litter and it would prevent her from doing this again. Is this true? Any advice is welcome. I also suspect she is developing canine cushing’s syndrome as she has all the symptoms. I have to get her tested soon for it.

  17. Avatar Of Jane A Smythe Longhurst

    jane a smythe longhurst


    My dogs pups have now gone but her teats are huge very hard and hot to touch I carnt get her in the vets for 2 days ..help

  18. Avatar Of Kathy Blizz

    Kathy Blizz


    I went through this with my female. After the trip to the vet for antibiotics, I also helped her along with warn hot water bottles, gentle massage and manual draining. The pups were only 2 weeks old, so I ended up bottle feeding my 11 little darlings with the puppy milk supplement.
    All was well and my female was healthy and happy, and all my little babies were homed with wonderful families.

    • Avatar Of Jennifer R

      Jennifer r


      Did it look bloody when you had to drain it. Yesterday was pusy but today it’s pinkish and looks like blood. Is this normal with mastitis? I am so worried about her. She is on antibotics and isn’t running a fever but is still chilling and odiously hurting.

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