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What are Mastitis?

Dogs that have had mastitis are more prone to developing it again. All dogs can develop mastitis, including male dogs. Mastitis can become fatal if not treated quickly.

Mastitis in dogs is an infection of the mammary glands. It usually occurs in female dogs who are nursing a new litter of puppies. The mammary glands swell and become very painful for the dog. Nursing puppies should not drink the milk from affected teats; the milk will be toxic to puppies.

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Mastitis Average Cost

From 448 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Mastitis in Dogs

Your dog may exhibit several different signs. If you notice any changes in your dog, contact your veterinarian immediately for an examination. Time is important; the infection can spread quickly and make your dog extremely sick or can even cause death.

  • Teats are lumpy
  • Teats are painful to touch
  • Teats are warm or hot to the touch
  • Teats are bruised or purplish-blue
  • Not wanting to nurse puppies
  • Snapping or growling at puppies
  • Discolored milk or blood in the milk
  • Restlessness
  • Crying
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy

Types

 

Mastitis in dogs is categorized into two different types.

Acute Septic Mastitis

The female has developed an infection or abscess within a mammary gland and has become very ill. Bacteria have entered the mammary gland and can be fatal if not treated quickly.

Galactostasis

Otherwise referred to as caked breasts, galactostasis occurs during the later stages of pregnancy. The milk can start to accumulate and make the teats painful and distended. The mammary glands are not infected and therefore the female is not ill. This also happens when a female experiences a false pregnancy.

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Causes of Mastitis in Dogs

When pregnant, a dog’s body starts going through changes and milk production begins so she can nourish her pups when they are born. The puppies sometimes will scratch the mother’s nipples or the nipples can become cracked. This can allow a bacterial infection to begin in the milk ducts. 

Dogs, females and males, can develop mastitis when not pregnant or nursing pups. If this is the case, your dog will need to see your veterinarian immediately. Mastitis that is occurring in a dog that is not nursing puppies can be caused by cancer of the mammary glands and needs urgent attention.

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Diagnosis of Mastitis in Dogs

If you suspect that your dog has mastitis, your veterinarian will palpate the teats and may take a sample of the milk in the affected teat. The milk will then be examined under a microscope for the presence of pus and bacteria. A CBC, or complete blood count, may also be performed to determine the severity of the infection. 

Your veterinarian may also recommend an ultrasound of the affected teat to locate any abscesses or tumors. A thyroid profile may also be performed to rule out hypothyroidism.

Mastitis can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your dog has mastitis or is at risk, start searching for pet insurance today. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Trupanion. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

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Treatment of Mastitis in Dogs

Acute Septic Mastitis

A combination of treatments will most likely be prescribed by your veterinarian. Treatments can include aggressive antibiotics along with warm compresses applied to the affected teat. The infected teat will need to have the milk expressed to alleviate some of the pain and help prevent an abscess from forming.

Puppies should not be allowed to nurse from the affected teat. The puppies may need to be supplemented with formula while the female is recovering from acute septic mastitis. Just remember that milk production will stop after approximately three days if puppies do not nurse. 

Galactostasis 

Your veterinarian may require that your dog’s water be withheld for 6-10 hours as well as food being withheld for up to 24 hours. Diuretics may also be prescribed as well as limited food intake. This treatment will not be helpful, and will likely be harmful, if this is not the cause of the problem.  

Your dog may try to stimulate the teats by licking in the event of a false pregnancy. This can make it worse and your veterinarian may prescribe a hormonal therapy or a mild sedative to stop the behavior.

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Recovery of Mastitis in Dogs

In the event of galactostasis mastitis, your dog is not at immediate risk but should still be examined by your veterinarian. Once hormone levels have become normal once again, the condition should go away.

Acute septic mastitis will require immediate and aggressive treatment to ensure a full recovery. Your veterinarian will set a treatment plan and all follow up visits to make sure that the infection is gone. 

When mastitis is caused by something such as cancer, your veterinarian will speak with you regarding available treatments and your dog’s prognosis. Your veterinarian may refer you to a specialist.

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Mastitis Average Cost

From 448 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$500

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Mastitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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American Bully

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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8 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing

She has small likes pox around the base of her nipples

Dec. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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8 Recommendations

Unfortunately the link to the picture isn't working; it may be worth re-posting it. All nipples should appear similar and be symmetrical. There should not be any growths from then and they should not be bothering her. At her age, the cause of her symptoms is unlikely to be sinister but it may be sensible to have a vet assess things in person. Potential causes would include warts or an infection.

Dec. 27, 2020

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Mixed

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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12 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Before I headed to work I noticed that one of my l dogs breasts was swollen and wanted to see if I should be concerned of what it possibly could be.

Dec. 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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12 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Without being able to examine your dog, it is hard to say what might be going on. It could be mastitis if she is near heat or has had puppies. Or it could be a normal hormonal change if she is just in heat and everything else is okay. If you are concerned, the best thing to do would be to have her seen by a veterinarian.

Dec. 23, 2020

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Mastitis Average Cost

From 448 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$500

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

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