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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Pit Bull

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Nipples And Itchy Rash She Is Fixed

My female pit bull is fixed and has swollen nipples that look odd and she has a itchy rash over where she was fixed and her tattoo.

July 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello She may be having some irritation from where she was clipped and scrubbed prior to surgery. Unfortunately the picture you uploaded is not coming, but swollen nipples could be due to an infection. I recommend that you take her back to where she was spayed for a post-op recheck. Good luck.

July 27, 2020

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pit bull mix

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness And Swollen Mammary Gland And Nipple Looks Clogged

My dog is not fixed, she has never had puppies, but now one of her mammary gland and nipple are red and swollen. What can I do to help her? She does not seem to be in pain, but then again she can not communicate that to me. I have had her for 10 years now and want to do anything I can for her. Can you please help me help her? Thank you, Carol

July 18, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello From what you are describing, it sounds like she has an infected mammary gland. She may need to have a sample of tissue taken to send off to a lab to see if there is an infection or cancer. If the area looks infected, antibiotics could be needed, so it is recommended that you take her to a veterinarian for an exam. In the meantime, you may apply a cool compress to the area for five minutes 2-3 times a day. Good luck.

July 18, 2020

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Maltipoo

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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

Swollen Nipples

Why does my dog have swollen nipples, specially the ones close to her vagina

July 17, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- Your dog may be pregnant or experiencing a false pregnancy. Both of these conditions could cause swollen nipples. I would recommend taking her to your veterinarian to have them evaluate what exactly is going on. Thank you for reaching out.

July 17, 2020

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Chinese Crested

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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

Swollen Nipples

All six nipples are swollen

July 15, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. She is at the age where she is likely coming into heat, assuming she is a girl, and swollen mammary glands are part of the hormonal changes that may occur. If you are concerned that what is happening is not normal., it would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian, as they can examine her and see if everything is normal or if she has a problem. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 15, 2020

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Mixed

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Six Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Nipples

Why are her nipples swollen if she has never had pups

July 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. She is likely coming into heat, if she isn't spayed, and mammary glands will swell during that time period. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 14, 2020

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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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0 found helpful

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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.

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Lucy

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Min Pin Mix

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3 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Enlarged Nipples

I adopted an adult min pin mix a month ago. She is unspayed (but scheduled to be spayed in march) and her nipples are enlarged. There is no soreness or sensitivity, no discharge, no nothing. Is this something to be concerned about?

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Panda

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Border Collie

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7 Months

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling
Swollen Nipples

Panda has swollen nipples (and the area around it). She recently experienced her first heat about 3-4 weeks ago. She has no discharge, no heat, no noticeable lumps ither than nipple swelling in all nipples. She doesn’t seem pained or bothered by them either. She has not come into any contact with an intact dog - therefore is not pregnant either. She is scheduled to be spayed in January, but I was wondering if thisnsounds like it needs veterinary intervention sooner?

Cannanine