Swollen Nipples in Dogs

Why is my dog swollen nipples?

Most common conditions

Breast Bacterial Infection / Tumor / Mammary Gland Inflammation

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Rated as moderate conditon

25 Veterinary Answers

Most common conditions

Breast Bacterial Infection / Tumor / Mammary Gland Inflammation

Why is my dog swollen nipples?

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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Cannanine

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.

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Swollen Nipples Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Miniature Australian Shepherd

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Eleven Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Enlarged Nipple

My dogs nipple is a bit inflamed. Do I need to do something?

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Nipples can get infected, or irritated, and she is at about the age where she might be coming into heat if she is not spayed. If it is something that you are just noticing, and it seems unusual, it would probably be best to have her examined by a veterinarian to have them look at it. They will be able to let you know if there is anything wrong or if there are any medications that she needs, or if things are normal. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Pitbull Mix

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Six Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen And Bleeding Nipple

Our dog has had this for a couple weeks now. At first, we thought she just irritated it and that it would heal. It bleeds often and just looks infected. It doesn’t seem to bother her but we just need an idea of what it could be? We would take her to the vet but because of COVID we are short for the money right now.

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That mass looks very angry, and could be cancerous. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, as they can look at the area and see what might be going on, and what treatment may need to happen for her. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Pit Bull Mix

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Six Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

One Swollen And Bleeding Nipple

What is this and how can we treat it? We can’t afford the vet right now but want some answers. It doesn’t seem to bother her but it won’t stop bleeding. She’s had it for a couple weeks now.

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That mass looks very angry, and could be cancerous. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, as they can look at the area and see what might be going on, and what treatment may need to happen for her. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Terrior mix

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Thirteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Hard Back Nipple

Swollen , very hard , shes never had puppies and never been fixed . There is a discharge also .

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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Hello- Thank you for your question. I do think it would be a good idea to have her examined by your veterinarian. I am concerned that she may have developed a mammary mass. It could also potentially be an infection as well but it is difficult to tell without looking at it and palpating the area. If it is a mass your veterinarian can schedule surgery to have it removed. Mammary masses are common in dogs who have never been spayed. I hope she feels better soon. Take care!

Aug. 2, 2020

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german husky

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Breast A Little Swollen, Hurts When Touched

my dog breast seems to be a little swollen from 1 side & it seems to hurt when pressed on . I love my dog , I wanna give her the best but havent been able to because of my financial situation

July 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without seeing her, it is not possible for me to say whether something may be wrong. If she is eating and drinking and bright otherwise, you may be okay to keep a close eye on her and see if the swelling resolves. If it is getting worse, or more painful, or she does not feel well, then she should probably see a veterinarian for an examination. I hope that all goes well for her!

July 28, 2020

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ZIVZ

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beagle/mix

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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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.

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Chloe

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English Spaniel

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7 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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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!

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Sugar

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Basset Hound

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11 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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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?

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Scrappy

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Brindle pit/ American pit mix

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14 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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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

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Nyja

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Boerboel

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8 Years

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Fair severity

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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.

Cannanine