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What are Swollen Nipples?

Female dogs are most likely to be affected by swollen nipples due to the nature of their mammary gland. Extra precautions must be taken if swollen nipples are observed in dogs. Swollen nipples may indicate an infection or a life-threatening medical condition such as cancer. Swollen nipples in dogs may be caused by:

  • Mastitis
  • Mammary gland tumor

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Why Swollen Nipples Occurs in Dogs

Mastitis

Swollen nipples in dogs is a common symptom seen in mastitis. Mastitis occurs when there is an infection of the mammary glands. Mastitis is common in female dogs who are in the process of nursing. In mastitis, the dog's mammary glands become swollen and painful. The milk is toxic in affected nipples. Mastitis tends to occur during the first 2 weeks after delivering puppies. If any changes in your dog's health are noticed, it is essential to contact your veterinarian for immediate consultation. Infections may spread rapidly and become fatal if left untreated. There are two types of mastitis – acute septic mastitis and galactostasis. In acute septic mastitis, bacteria enters the mammary gland, which creates a painful infection. In galactostasis, milk accumulates in the mammary glands which creates a swollen nipple. Common symptoms of mastitis in dogs are as follows:

  • Lumpy, painful nipples
  • Refusing to nurse puppies
  • Discolored milk or blood in milk
  • Crying
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy

Mammary Gland Tumor

Another condition which can result in your dog having swollen nipples is a mammary gland tumor. Mammary gland tumors commonly affect female dogs. A mammary gland tumor occurs when there is a mass growth near the nipples. The tumor can be either hard or soft and can eventually develop into an abscess. Mammary gland tumors can differ in size and location and can vary in colors such as red or purple. If you observe any bleeding near the swollen nipples, it is likely that your dog has developed an advanced cancer and must be seen by the veterinarian immediately. There are numerous types of mammary gland tumors which range from benign to malignant. Benign tumors usually take time to grow and are often smooth texture. Malignant tumors will usually have an irregular shape with rapid growth.

What to do if your Dog is Swollen Nipples

If your dog experiences swollen nipples as a result of mastitis or a mammary gland tumor, it is essential to seek immediate veterinary assistance. Mastitis occurs when bacteria enters the mammary gland. Bacteria can enter through various channels, increasing the risk of her becoming septic. A contaminated environment can also cause bacteria to seep through and enter your dog's body. Scratches from the puppies can also invite bacteria inside. Mammary gland tumors can develop through a variety of factors such as environmental factors, certain foods with additives, and hormonal situations. Your dog is most likely to be at risk for mammary gland tumors if she has experienced an increased amount of estrus cycles in her lifetime. 

Your veterinarian will retrieve a sample of milk from the affected nipple. The milk will be assessed for any pus and bacteria. Your dog may undergo a complete blood count to determine the severity of the mastitis. An ultrasound may be suggested in order to locate any tumors which may be hidden from sight. If your dog is experiencing acute septic mastitis, your pet may be prescribed antibiotics and compressions to be applied to the swollen nipples. If your dog is experiencing galactostasis, your dog may be prevented from any water intake for half a day in addition to a withholding of food for up to 24 hours. 

For a mammary gland tumor, a biopsy would be used to diagnose mammary cancer in your dog. A sample would be sent to the lab to determine whether the tumor is benign or malignant. Other tests such as ultrasounds and x-rays can help determine how far in the body the cancer has reached. If your dog is diagnosed with cancer, the most effective treatment is surgery. The tumor would be removed in order to prevent regrowth. Chemotherapy may be recommended if the cancer is widespread and in advanced stages.

Prevention of Swollen Nipples

Prevention of swollen nipples in dogs starts with monitoring your dog's health. Examine your dog's teats on a daily basis and record any scratches to the area. Since mastitis usually occurs when your dog has puppies, ensure to keep the puppies' nails clipped. Clip any hair obstructing your dog's nipples to maintain cleanliness. In order to discourage over-usage of the nipples, it is recommended to encourage the puppies to nurse from all of them. If your dog has received surgery due to a mammary gland tumor, your veterinarian will set up an appointment to check how your dog has been healing. It is important to continue to monitor your dog for any signs of tumor growth. It is highly recommended to also check over your dog from ears to paws to catch any discrepancies.

Cost of Swollen Nipples

The cost of medical conditions such as mastitis or a mammary gland tumor can vary depending on your location, your veterinarian's rates, and the severity of your dog's condition. Mastitis treatment ranges anywhere from $200 to $800. The average cost of treatment for mastitis in dogs is $500. Veterinary care for a mammary gland tumor is significantly more expensive due to the intensive treatment needed to help your dog recover. Medical care for a mammary gland tumor can range from $900 to as high as $15000. However, the average cost of treatment for a mammary gland tumor is $5500.

Swollen Nipples Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Jade
Golden Retriever
7 Years
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

Half of my dogs nipples are swollen. She was in heat a month ago. She has never had puppies nor is she pregnant currently. They do not seem to hurt her to touch. What can it be?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
It is possible that Jade is having a false pregnancy and her nipples are swollen; false pregnancies are usually self limiting and require no medical treatment. It is important to keep a close eye on her and if you are not planning on breeding her you should have her spayed to reduce the chance of pyometra and uterine tumours as well as reducing the risk of mammary tumours. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

It was helpful, however it would be nice to get an answer to the second question about the bottom 2 nipples.

At what point should you be concerned if the bottom two teats are still swollen due to her licking them, they look painful and are hot to touch?

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Hooch
Pit bull mastiff mix
3 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Clingy
Panting
Lethargy
Swollen nipples
restlessness

Hooch has started acting very clingy and when he lays down he goes to lay down VERY slowly or he will just stay standing. He seems very restless as he will pace but is tired and weak acting because he won't get on the chair. 2 of his nipples are enlarged. I've noticed him panting today without having exercised.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
Is Hooch castrated? Enlarged nipples may be a sign of testicular cancer. Is anyone which has regular contact with Hooch use any estrogen creams? Or works with estrogen containing products? These products may cause nipple enlargement. Irritation to the area and regular licking may also cause an enlargement as well. You should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to determine the underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/condition/hormone-replacement-poisoning

A few of My male French bulldogs nipples are larger than others and a little red I think may of been in contact of estrogen cream what’s the best prevention or treatment

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Bleu
Weimaraner
1 Year
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen nipple

My 1 year old male Weimaraner has one slightly swollen nipple that is inverted and has developed a small scab. I clean the dirt out of it pretty regularly because it is inverted for just this reason. It seems as if it may be infected but I'm unsure. What does this sound like to you? Its red and though there is no obvious drainage I see a small amount of a white substance.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
Some dogs do have inverted nipples, and they need to be cleaned the way that you are describing. If the nipple is swollen and red, he may be developing an infection or need other treatment for it. A veterinarian will be able to look at Bleu and determine if he has a problem or if you just need to keep cleaning it.

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Lily
Malti-Poo
7 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Medication Used

none

My 7 year old maltipoo's nipples look swollen and the top ones near her front feet are crusty but not particularly swollen. She is not or never has been pregnant. She has become very nervous, anxious and even aggressive to most everyone but myself....biting at people especially if they come near her food or bed. She has even started hoarding food and taking pieces to her bed an hiding them. Very unusual and sudden behavior changes.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
There are various different causes for crusty nipples and may be due to waxy secretions from the nipples or due to an infection; I would use a warm damp cloth against the affected nipples to see if the crust comes off, if the glands are warm it may be that there is an infection which would require treatment from your Veterinarian. If Lily is intact, you should consider spaying her and discuss with your Veterinarian; without examining her I cannot give you much more information. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Hi my dog is a male lab mix and I noticed one of his nipples were swollen im not sure what to make of this

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April
German Shepherd
5 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen nipples
Heavy Breathing

April is a 5 year old German Shepherd mix. She is not spayed, and she hasn’t had any puppies. There’s is also no chance that she can be pregnant. She’s been acting weird for a couple of days ever since she got her two back nipples really swollen and saggy. They are pink with a white spot on each. She’s been hiding in her cage, and she’s been heavily breathing. I haven’t see her lick her nipples, but they are moist. It could be that she licks them.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
It is possible that April is licking her teats and they may be enlarged due to hormones (false pregnancy etc…), infections, inflammation, trauma, tumours among other causes. Without examining April I cannot say what the cause is or what the best course of treatment should be, you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Jack'Son
Cane Corso Italiano (Italian Mastiff)
3 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen nipples

My female non spayed Cane Corso has one of her teats that is swollen and the surrounding is a bit swollen. It is red due to her licking and warm/hot to the touch. Since she is very tolerant to pain I cannot say if it's painful but i can see it bothers her. She eats normally and no hesitation for her walks. She is always wanting to be in the same room as us but since 2 days she stays in the bedroom and comes out once in a while and I kinda feel her distant. Not certain when she is going to be in heat this or next month. Thank you in advance

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
If Jackson is unspayed, she is at risk of false pregnancy and mammary cancer. It would be best to have her examined by a veteirnarian to see what is going on with her, and potentially consider having her spayed if it would help with her current situation.

Thank you, I will have her checked .

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Abby
Labrador
7 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Abby doesnt seem to be in pain. I touch the affeated area she didnt react. Its big not rock solid It wasnt swollen yesterday. And it as big toddlers shoe today. I dont have the money to see a vet. Is there any meds i can use or remedies?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
Without examining Abby I cannot say what the specific cause and there is not much over the counter that would help if the nipple is as big as you’ve described. I know that veterinary care can be expensive but you can try visiting a charity clinic or contacting a nonprofit for assistance with care, please see the link below. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.dogingtonpost.com/need-help-with-vet-bills-or-pet-food-there-are-resources-available/

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Mojo
Lab pit mix
6 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

lump under nipple
Lump
Swollen nipple

Why is my male dogs nipple swollen? it’s not painful when I touch it and it’s soft no redness or dryness or leaks or anything it looks like a lump under the nipple its self the other nipples look normal it’s been here for a while almost over a week it’s the second nipple down on the right side

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
Thank you for contacting us today about Mojo. Without seeing him, I can't say for sure what is happening with his skin, but it would be a good idea to have it checked out by your veterinarian, as dogs can get tumors that need to be removed, as well as benign tumors or abcesses. It would be best to have him examined, so that your vet can determine the best course of action for him.

I just noticed today my dogs nipples are swollen but she hasnt been around male dogs or anything what can i do to help her

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Cleo
Bernese Mountain Dog
1 Year
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen nipple

My dogs nipple is slightly swollen probably double in size it’s bleeding on the side but that might be from her irritating it. It’s slightly discolored and wondering if there is anything I can do.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
If one nipple is affected, it may be due to hormonal changes (usually more nipples affected), infection, trauma, inflammation or cancer; I would keep an eye on it but ideally have your Veterinarian take a look at it to make sure there isn’t anything to be concerned about, especially if Cleo isn’t spayed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Our dog isn't pregnant and her nipples aren't bleeding. She has sagging swollen nipples though which is very unusual and i'm not sure what i should do

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Jem
Jack Russell
12 Years
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen teat

Hi, I have a 12.5 year old female, un-spayed Jack Russell who has developed a swollen nipple. When you touch it she doesn't seem to mind, as in, she doesn't appear to be in any pain. I'd say it is highly unlikely that she is pregnant as she hasn't had a bleed in several years now, and no contact with male dogs nonetheless. On examination, it feels as if there is a tube coming from it, as in enlarged vein that feels hard, the swelling around the nipple is not rock hard, but feels quite firm, not red or bleeding. All the other teats appear normal. She was diagnosed with Cushing's Diseases in Jan 2017, could this be something to do with that? Or something more sinister. She appears to be in good health, in fact has more energy than since she was a young lady. Her eating and drinking are normal. I look forward to hearing your advice. Thank you.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
Unspayed female dogs are at risk of hormonal problems that might affect mammary glands, and mammary tumors, as they age. It would be best to have her examined by your veterinarian, as they will be able to see her, determine what might be going on, and recommend any appropriate therapy for her.

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Daisy
Basset Hound
10 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

swollen teats

We have a 10yr okd female dog that is not spayed. She gets false pregnancies from time to time. We recently started her on a new food to lose some weight. She lost weight, but is drinking a ton and now cannot control her bladder and her nose is dry. In addition 8 of her 10 teats became very swollen. Hard as a rock...from what I can tell there is no secretions, but she won’t leave them alone and keeps licking them. She lets us touch her and doesn’t yelp or jump as if she is in pain either. Any idea as to what could have happened so abruptly from last night to today? Can I do anything at home to help until we can see a vet? Cold or warm compresses? Medication to help with inflammation?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
You should certainly visit your Veterinarian once they are open, but in the meantime you may apply a warm compress to the mammary glands to see if this offers any relief for her and prevent her from licking herself as this may cause further irritation. In a dog with issues with false pregnancy it would be best to have her spayed to remove the hormonal influence which causes the condition. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Hunnynut
Chiweenie
3 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen nipples

My 2 year old spayed Chiweenie has what seems to be an abscess on one of her nipples and one other seems to be swollen and irritated as well. I put Sulfodene on both along with her cone so she can't bite them. She was fixed in 10/2017 and had puppies before being fixed.Her behavior is also much calmer and she's less social.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
Without examining Hunnynut I cannot say whether the lump is an abscess, tumour or other growth; placing a cone on her and bathing the area is a good first step. I would look for any other symptoms, but ideally you should visit your Veterinarian as Hunnynut may require antibiotics or other treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Nena
chihuahua mix
6 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Whining

I recently checked my dog when I was outside playing with her and I noticed that one of her nipples seemed to be swollen. It seems to look from the inside though. Theres various small bumps that leads to show the swelling. Im wondering if this could be a cause of an insect bite? Or maybe she has developed some sort of infection or disease. I really want to know as soon as possible so I can be able to get medical attention for her.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
Without seeing Nena and examining the gland, I am not sure what might be causing the signs that you describe. It may be an insect bite, or a growth that needs attention. it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine her, determine what might be going on, and recommend any testing or treatment that she may need.

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Skye
Spaniel
1 Year 6 months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen nipples

Hello, I have a spaniel who is around a year and half old. She’s never had puppies or been pregnant but her nipples have been swollen since her 1st period. They go up and down in size but mostly swollen all the time. I’m getting worried as she’s had her second season now and they are still swollen? Please help I’m worried about her

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
Nipple swelling may occur due to hormonal issues, false pregnancy or similar issues may occur due to the hormonal changes during the heat cycle. Spaying would be the ideal course of action and in most cases will resolve the issue; spaying will also prevent the risk of pyometra, uterine tumours and will reduce the risk of mammary tumours. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Millie
English Bulldog
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Red, swollen nipples at end of preg

My English Bulldog is pregnant and due to have pups within the next week. Her nipples are swollen, which is normal, but a couple of them near the back also appear red and are warm. Is this something to worry about? This is her first pregnancy. I'm monitoring rectal temp which is normal for now.

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Karma
Pit bull
11 Months
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen teets, Pink nipples.

My 11 month old Pitbull had her first heat a month ago. She was not exposed to a male dog, so I know she is not pregnant. However, her back 4 teets are swollen, and look like they could be full with mik, but nothing comes out when I tug squeeze. Her nipples are pink only on those 4 teets. They are not painful to the touch. She actually enjoys me touching them, like when she is getting a belly rub. She has a normal appetite, (which means always hungry lol). The only real change I've noticed is that she seeks attention way more than she used to. She will sit a stare at me with a small whimper until I give her attention. My concern is, Why are her teets so swollen?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. it is quite common for mammary changes to occur during a heat cycle, and shortly afterwards. If her teats don't return to normal over the next 1-2 weeks, or if she develops any other abnormal behaviors, it would be best to have her examined by your veterinarian to make sure that everything is okay.

Thank you Dr. Michele King

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Clara
Pomshi
10 Months
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen nipples

Hi so Clara is a pom Shiba inu mix she is almost 11m old. Ever since her first heat I noticed that her lower 4 nipples are swollen almost like milk glands. Could this be a false pregnancy and if so how long can they last. Her heat was over I think a month ago. Also she does occasionally throw up but this has been a ongoing problem that we are already trying to figure out.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
A false pregnancy at Clara's age is unlikely. She may be having hormonal changes that are affecting her mammary glands. If they are not bothering her, and are not warm, or sore, you may be fine to monitor her. If you are not sure, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian.

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Oreo
Maltese Shih Tzu
12 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

big nipple
Swollen nipple

My dog has a swollen nipple. She is acts normal runs around jumps up and down. She is an active old dog but when I touch the nipple she jumps up. Also she is about 11 or 12 year old . I feel like it gets worse every week.
What do I do?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
Oreo may have an infection, or a tumor on that nipple. Since it seems to bother her, and isn't getting better, it would be a good idea to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine her, determine what the cause might be, and recommend any testing or treatments that she might need.

thank you

I forgot to say this but she almost bit me when I came to pet before that her was licking her self a lot in the place where it's swollen.
She has a lump under in too.

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Lola
American bully
5 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Redness

Lola is a American bulldog. She has never had puppies and is fixed. Ive noticed this past week that only one of her nipples is about 2x bigger than the rest and very pink. I touched it to see if she was in pain or possible bite but it did not seem to bother her. I did notice that shes lost some weight though she eats twice a day and hasn't lost her appetite, & her personality hasnt changed a bit. Please advise

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
If the nipple is cool to the touch and not causing any irritation I would keep an eye on it to see if it gets larger or if it goes down; without examining Lola I cannot say specifically what the cause is but mastitis, bug bites, tumours and other causes may be to blame. If it hasn’t gone down after a week I would suggest visiting your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

My female is about 18 months and was bred about 3 weeks ago. One of her teets, not the nipple but under it swelled up really suddenly. I just noticed it today so it couldn't have been more then 3 days it's been growing as I been keeping a close eye on her to see if she's made any changes. It's kinda hard almost like when the female is done whelping and the milk begins to dry up. Is this a hormonal thing or should I go to a vet? I squeeze it and stuff no pain at all, it's a little smaller then a gold ball size I'd say. Again not the nipple but like a small mass under it

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Jazzy
chawwawa
1 Year
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

bottom nipples swollem an have milk

i have a small dog she is just a little over 1 year old she came in heat in December for the first time but was not around any other dogs but now her bottom two nipples are swollen an have milk in them what would cause this an what can i do about it

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
Gestation in dogs lasts 63 days so pregnancy is a possibility if copulation occurred around New Years Eve; however hormonal conditions, ovarian cysts, tumours, false pregnancy among other causes may lead to milk stimulation and other symptoms. There isn’t anything I can advise you to do at home and you would need an examination by your Veterinarian to determine the cause; if you are no planning on breeding her you should consider spaying. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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