Jump to section

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

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

Compare plans
advertisement image

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

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!.

Swollen Nipples 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

Husky

dog-age-icon

One Year

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Rescued a husky on oct 15.. she had puppies nov 24th... her teats in the back have gotten very swollen started applying hot packs tonight but not sure how long and how many times... I am very considered

Dec. 15, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without seeing her, it is hard for me to say if the swollen glands may be normal or abnormal. There is a normal amount of swelling that occurs during nursing, but dogs can also get mastitis and infections. If she seems painful, or the glands are red or hard, or she's not eating or seems to be not feeling good, then it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, they will be able to examine her, see if there's a problem, and get treatment for her if there is one. I hope that all goes well for her and her pups.

Dec. 15, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

Two Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

4 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Back Breasts

My 2 year old chihuahua s back breasts by her hind legs are swollen alot, her other nipples are larger than before also. She is not fixed yet. She just came out of heat in October.

Dec. 10, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

recommendation-ribbon

4 Recommendations

Hi there, you are through to Dr Linda. There are a few possibilities here including pregnancy (if mated), false pregnancy or mastitis (an infection). If there is any chance she is pregnant, an ultrasound scan would be best to check for puppies. If the mammary tissue is hard, lumpy, red or warm or if there is any foul smelling discharge or she seems unwell, this could indicate an infection.

Dec. 10, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Pomeranian and Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

10 months

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

8 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Around Her Nipple Area Is Turning Purple But She'S Not Pregnant It'S Her First Heat And She Has Not Been Around And Emailed Dogs

What do I do cuz my 10-month-old Chihuahua Pomeranian is in her first heat about two and a half weeks in and her nipples are starting to swell around the outside of them and turn purple with a white tint what do I do

Oct. 19, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

8 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. From your picture, that looks like fairly normal development for a dog in a heat cycle. If you notice that it is not resolving over the next week or two, or she seems painful or bothered by the nipples, then It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 19, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Rottweiler

dog-age-icon

Seven Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

5 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

Her nipples and area around them closest to her hind legs are a little hard

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

5 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Dogs can develop infections, mammary tumors, or inflammation. If this is something that you have not noticed before, it may be a good idea to have a veterinarian take a look at her to make sure that she is okay, and to see if any treatment might be needed for her. I hope that all goes well!

Oct. 5, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Pocket Pitbull

dog-age-icon

Thirteen Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Breast

One of her nipples are swollen hard and looks like puss or blood oozing out

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If you are seeing pus and blood, she likely has an infection or a tumor, and having her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible would be a good idea - they will be able to examine her and let you know what treatment she might need.

Oct. 9, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

ZIVZ

dog-breed-icon

beagle/mix

dog-age-icon

2 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

Hanging Nipples

WE RECENTLY ADOPTED A MIX BEAGLE/SHEPARD MIX, WE WERE TOLD THAT SHE HAD A LITTER IN AUGUST AND WAS SPAYED IN OCTOBER. HER NIPPLES ARE HANGING DOWN, I WAS WONDERING IF THEY WILL EVENTUALLY GO DOWN AND DOES THE HANGING CAUSE HER DISCOMFORT. WE ARE KEEPING THIS LITTLE GIRL NO MATTER WHAT - I JUST WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT SHE IS OK WITH THIS OR PERHAPS FINDING HER A TEE SHIRT TO HOLD THEM UP WOULD MAKE HER MORE COMFORTABLE. WE ARE TAKING HER TO THE VET IN A FEW DAYS - WE JUST RESCUED HER 4 DAYS AGO AND SHE HAS STOLEN OUR HEARTS.

dog-name-icon

Chloe

dog-breed-icon

English Spaniel

dog-age-icon

7 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

Distended Nipples

I adopted a 7 year old female dog that was used for breeding and surrendered when they were done breeding her. She has been spayed and treated for mastitis, but her nipples are huge and gross. Is it feasible to have her nipples surgically reduced back to a normal size, or removed? Would that be safe and affordable? Thanks!

dog-name-icon

Sugar

dog-breed-icon

Basset Hound

dog-age-icon

11 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

Swollen Teets

My 11 year old non spayed female basset just got "stuck" with my younger male dog that was in heat. This has been about 6 to 7 weeks ago. I dont think she is pregnant but now her nipples are hard and swollen. Any ideas?

dog-name-icon

Scrappy

dog-breed-icon

Brindle pit/ American pit mix

dog-age-icon

14 Years

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

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Scrappy is 14 years old and has had a wonderful life. I don't want to put him down because he doesn't seem to be in extreme pain. I know that he has testicular cancer. At 13 they wanted to neuter him. I did my research and found that he had a better chance of surviving longer with nothing being done as compared to a great risk of losing him during surgery. His nipples have really started getting more swollen and more of them over the last few days. And I have a bad feeling that I am about to lose him. How can I judge his time left? He is like a son to me and I am hurting and crying writing this. Please help me. I don't want him to suffer at all, but I want to spend every single minute that I can with him and I know that he wants to spend every single minute with me. As I cannot move without him being right by my side or trying to get there. I feel his pain

dog-name-icon

Nyja

dog-breed-icon

Boerboel

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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

Swollen Nipple With Skin Tags

Nyja's top left nipple is enlarged. She acts completely normal. The nipple is soft. The nipple appears to have small pink skin tags on it. It doesn't seem to cause her any pain at all. There is no puss nor blood nor milk. She has never had puppies and is not spayed. She also has a skin tag a couple of inches below her anus, which also does not seem to cause pain when touched. She's been this way for quite some time and no further complications have arisen. She may have experienced a false pregnancy 2 summers ago.

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

Compare plans
advertisement image
How can we help your pet?