Find Out About Canine Mastitis

Mastitis indicates inflammation of mammary tissue (breast tissue) that helps mothers to produce milk for new offspring. Mastitis is a debilitating inflammation or infection of one or more mammary glands, often caused by bacteria.  This potentially life-threatening disorder primarily affects dogs after they have given birth, although it also sometimes happens with phantom pregnancy.

Symptoms of Mastitis in Dogs

Dogs suffering from acute or chronic mastitis may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  •  Fever
  • Reduced milk production
  • Slow growth and reduced weight gain in puppies
  • Breast glands that are discolored or look bruised
  • Ulceration, abscesses, or gangrenous regions in the mammary tissue
  • Breast glands that are red , swollen, painful, or warm to the touch
  • Discolored or bloody discharge from the mammary gland(s)

Despite inflammation of the mammary tissue, dogs with subclinical mastitis are often asymptomatic and may continue to feel and act normal.

How Canine Mastitis Is Diagnosed?

Diagnosing a case of canine mastitis is relatively simple. The vet will gently inspect the breasts of the dog to assess whether one or more teats are infected. In addition to looking for the above signs, the vet may attempt to carefully press the breast to check for pus if it is not already visible due to leakage. They may also perform a fine needle aspiration to draw milk or pus from the nipple. Your veterinarian will also perform veterinary laboratory tests like: blood tests, bacterial cultures, and milk cytology to check for infection and confirm whether or not your dog has mastitis.

Treatment Of Canine Mastitis

If your dog has mastitis, she will need warm water compresses, antibiotic treatment, and emptying of her mammary glands. In acute cases, mastectomy or intravenous fluids may be needed, depending on how the infection has progressed. To make sure the puppies food requirements are being satisfied, you should offer them nutritious supplements. Whether your dog should continue to breastfeed her pups is a decision that your veterinarian will make.

Preventing Canine Mastitis

Although a spayed dog can develop the condition, spaying your dog can be a very effective way of preventing mastitis. If spaying is not an option, practicing proper hygiene in your dog can help prevent the condition. You should also regularly clean the bedding of your dog and her puppies. Remember to check her teats and clean them gently after feeding times and after she goes out to eliminate. Also, check her teats regularly for nicks and cuts of puppy nails, and be sure to clip the puppies’ nails regularly as well. Shaving the hair around the nipple region can also help avoid infection from occurring.

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