Mastitis in dogs is an inflammation of the mammary glands in the breast that produce milk, usually due to bacterial infection. It is mainly found in dogs that are nursing, though it is sometimes found in females that are not nursing or pregnant and even some male dogs.
There are two types of mastitis in dogs. Galactostasis, also known as caked breasts, is a type of mastitis that affects dogs in late stages of pregnancy. Milk can accumulate and distend the teats, causing pain, though there is no infection and the dog will not show signs of illness. Acute septic mastitis is the other type and happens when bacteria have entered the mammary gland and caused an infection or abscess. It can be fatal if it goes untreated. If you see the signs of mastitis in your dog, it is important that you consult your veterinarian right away so you can form a treatment plan. Here is what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for mastitis in dogs.
Symptoms Of Mastitis In Dogs
The symptoms of mastitis in dogs are often visible around the teats, and dogs are likely to show signs of discomfort or pain. It is important if you notice any signs of mastitis in your dog to get to a veterinarian immediately, as an infection can spread quickly and cause major illness or become life-threatening. Here are a few symptoms you might see in dogs that suffer from mastitis.
- Firm, swollen, or painful mammary glands
- Pus or discharge from the teats
- Discoloration of the teats
- Avoiding nursing puppies or growling and snapping at them
- Puppies lacking nutrition
- Weight loss
- Eventually septic shock, gangrene, or abscesses if left untreated
Causes Of Mastitis In Dogs
The common bacterial causes of mastitis in dogs usually include E. coli, staph, or streptococci. These bacteria are able to enter the mammary glands through injury to the nipples, often caused by cracking or scratches from puppies’ nails or teeth. Dogs that have had mastitis in the past are more susceptible to developing the condition in the future.
In cases where dogs are not pregnant or nursing, mastitis can be a secondary infection that has migrated from some other place in the body, or it can be a symptom of mammary gland cancer. It is important to see your veterinarian if you notice the symptoms of mastitis in your dog so you can get a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment For Mastitis In Dogs
Treatment for mastitis in dogs often depends on the type and severity of the condition. Galactostasis treatment usually involves withholding water for 6 to 10 hours and withholding food for 24 hours. Food intake may be limited after that for a period of about three days. A vet may also prescribe a diuretic.
Treatment for acute septic mastitis will likely include antibiotics. This may mean that any puppies will not be allowed to nurse from the affected teat and may need to be given supplementary nutrition. The veterinarian may also recommend that a warm compress be applied to the affected area and that the gland be milked to keep the ducts clear and reduce pain. A cabbage wrap may reduce swelling and promote faster healing. In severe cases, the glands may be drained or lanced surgically, or completely removed. Surgical removal is the usual course of action if the gland is abscessed or gangrenous. If there is an underlying condition, such as mammary cancer, that causes the mastitis, the veterinarian will discuss another course of action for treatment.
Has your dog ever suffered from mastitis? How did you treat it? Let us know in the comments below!