Jump to section

What is Producing Milk?

One would expect their female dog to produce milk after she has had puppies. Female dogs can produce milk that is secreted by their nipples, as any female mammal can. But dogs may even produce milk—or what looks like milk—through their nipples when they are not pregnant and have not recently given birth. Causes include:

  • Lactation post whelping
  • False pregnancy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Mammary gland tumor

Most of the time, milk production will be either a normal and healthy physical function, or at least not dangerous. However, there can be sinister underlying causes, so a milk-producing dog who is not recently or currently pregnant should be examined by a veterinarian.

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

Compare plans
advertisement image

Why Producing Milk Occurs in Dogs

Female dogs produce milk, or something with the appearance of milk, for two sets of reasons. Most of the time it is related to real or perceived pregnancy, but it can also be related to various illnesses. 

Lactation

Female dogs spontaneously produce milk when they have given birth to puppies. This is a normal part of biological parenthood for any female mammal. 

False Pregnancy

Female dogs may also produce milk when experiencing a false pregnancy or when another creature attempts to nurse from her. A false pregnancy is a condition where a female dog exhibits various symptoms of pregnancy, such as producing milk and building a nest for her puppies, but is not pregnant. Female dogs can also produce milk when another creature, such as a puppy or kitten, sucks and kneads her mammary area, even though she may not be pregnant or have recently given birth. This would have been essential when dogs lived in the wild in the case of orphaned pups.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs when the circulating level of thyroid hormone (T4) is too low. This causes the dog’s metabolism to slow down, resulting in symptoms that are typically associated with old age, such as lethargy, weight gain, loss of muscle coordination, and many more. Hypothyroidism usually occurs in medium to large dogs between 4 and 10 years old, and can be caused by lymphocytic thyroiditis, thyroid cancer, improper level of iodine, being born with it (congenital hypothyroidism), or for no clear reason.

Mammary Gland Tumor

Mammary gland tumors are growths in one or more of a female dog’s eight to ten teats. They may or may not be cancerous. Hormones are a clear factor in mammary cancer, as only half of one percent of dogs spayed before their first heat ever develop the disease. Toxins, such as pesticides and household chemicals, may be a risk factor, but there are no clear and certain non-hormonal causes of mammary gland tumors. In the case of a mammary gland tumor, the white substance produced may look like milk, but it is actually pus.

arrow-up-icon

Top

What to do if your Dog is Producing Milk

If your dog is pregnant or has recently given birth, she should be producing milk. Leave her to it. Neither are a false pregnancy or spontaneous nursing problematic. They are interesting phenomena, but they do not typically present a health problem. Discomfort or engorgement of the mammary glands may occur in any of these cases; these may be eased with alternating warm and cold compresses. However, hypothyroidism or mammary gland tumors require immediate medical attention.

Hypothyroidism is the less serious of the two conditions. It cannot be cured, but it can be treated, and a dog with medicated hypothyroidism can live a normal and healthy life. Your dog’s veterinarian will give your dog thyroxine, an oral hormonal replacement, which she will take for the rest of her life. The dosage may need to be adjusted as your dog’s weight and drug tolerance fluctuates. Mammary gland tumors will need to be surgically removed, possibly followed by chemotherapy or, less likely, radiation. Following treatment, the owner should take care to regularly check the dog’s mammary glands for a recurrence of tumors.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Prevention of Producing Milk

There is no need to prevent a normally lactating female dog from producing milk, even if it is experiencing a false pregnancy or nursing without being pregnant. Hypothyroidism is typically not preventable; however, mammary gland tumors are almost entirely preventable by spaying your female dog before her first heat.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Cost of Producing Milk

A normally lactating dog does not require any medical treatment, nor does a dog experiencing a false pregnancy or spontaneous milk production for another nursing animal. The average cost of treating hypothyroidism is $1300, while it costs an average of $5500 to treat mammary gland tumors.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Written by hannah hollinger

Veterinary reviewed by: Linda S.

Published: 06/19/2017, edited: 04/15/2021

Producing Milk Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Alstrain sheperd/pit

dog-age-icon

three years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

12 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Pruducing Milk

My 3 year old female is producing milk and isn't pregnant we did get a puppy a month or so ago from a friend and every since my female has been producing milk why is she doing this whats going on with her

Jan. 11, 2021

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Maureen M. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

12 Recommendations

Hi, This can be due to hormonal imbalance. Certain hormones in the body help stimulate milk production. Kindly visit the vet for him to run blood test to check if there is anything of concern.

Jan. 11, 2021

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

beagle mix

dog-age-icon

Seven Years

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

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

35 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lactating But Not Pregnant

She is not spayed but I only have female dogs and she is lactating. She is acting normal otherwise.

Oct. 25, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

recommendation-ribbon

35 Recommendations

Hi there, thank you for your question. Is there any chance at all she could be pregnant (e.g. if she mated while outside or when not under your supervision)? If not, this is likely a 'false pregnancy ' or 'pseudopregnancy'. These are very common in unspayed females. Other signs can include bloating, nausea and nesting. Usually, it will naturally stop over time and no treatment is needed. If the signs are affecting her quality of life, you can request medicine from your vet to stop the symptoms. Going forward, if you do not wish to mate from her, consider spaying her for health reasons and to prevent future false pregnancies.

Oct. 25, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Pit Bull

dog-age-icon

Two Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

31 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Nipple Discharge

My female 2 year old pit bull is having white liquid come out of only one nipple randomly. I squeezed it a tiny bit and more came out. Should I be worried? There is no possible way she is pregnant.

Oct. 18, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

31 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If she is not spayed, there can be some strange hormonal fluctuations that can cause milk production intermittently. She is probably close to or near a heat cycle. If it does not resolve, and is continuing to be a problem, then it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian.

Oct. 18, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Pit Bull

dog-age-icon

Five Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

15 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Milk In 2 Breast But Can’T Be Pregnant Because She Hasn’T Been Around Any Other Dogs

Is this a big problem?

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

15 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Some dogs can get infections of their uterus or problems with their ovaries as they age, and that can cause strange hormonal things to occur. She may be going through something like that, and having her spayed might be a good idea before she becomes more ill. If this does not resolve and continues, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine her and make sure she's okay. I hope that all goes well for her.

Oct. 2, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Yorkshire Terrier

dog-age-icon

Four Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

7 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Milk From Teats

how do i know if my dog is having a false pregnancy or is pregnant

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

7 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. A pregnant dog will have puppies at about 62 days, while a dog with a false pregnancy will not, but can behave exactly the same. Having an ultrasound will help you know if she has puppies or not. .

Oct. 12, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Luna

dog-breed-icon

Maltipoo

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Nipples
Slightly Swollen Belly Only At Bottom

is it possible for false pregnancy to occur right before her heat cycle? my dogs nipples are swollen, I slightly squeezed one and a milk like substance came out, she has never been bred and her behavior has not changed. she is 3 & a half years old. Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/symptom/why-is-my-dog-producing-milk

dog-name-icon

Daisy

dog-breed-icon

Pekingese

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Leaking
Leaking No Appit
Leaking No Appetite

My dog has had two litters in the past but it has been well over almost 1 year and a half since her last birthing, and puppies are all gone. Lately I’ve noticed dry crust on her hair that surrounds her teets, not all of them though and she’s only been wanting to eat every two days I feel like when she really gets hungry she just goes and eats but waits a very long time. Not like her. What could this be ?

dog-name-icon

Jolene

dog-breed-icon

Yorkie

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lump

I have a female Yorker she is 9 years old. We recently noticed a lump in her stomach and seems like she’s producing milk from one nipple. When we squeeze the liquid out the lump goes down. She as never been pregnant. Her food, water and bathroom is still normal. Should I be concerned?

dog-name-icon

Lexi

dog-breed-icon

mongrel

dog-age-icon

4 Months

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

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Howling
Sucking From Other Young Female Pup

My 6 weeks male puppy(Spike) tries to get milk from my 4 month old female puppy(Lexi) and now, I can see that there's a lot of redness and a little bit swollen from lexi's belly. Is this okay? She still young and I'm little bit worried about it. We got Spike 2 days ago and he is howling, crying if he didnt see us and stops whining if we carry him.... I dont know if this is normal. Spike just got separated from his mom and siblings 2 days ago too.

dog-name-icon

Chippy

dog-breed-icon

Dachshund

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Allergies

I have a dachshund dog around 3-4 years old and just recently I found out that she's been producing milk and as I can notice with her, she's been suffering some allergies, she also has a lump on her lower stomach I'm so worried about her condition :(

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

Compare plans
advertisement image
Need pet insurance?