Mastitis is a serious bacterial infection that affects the mammary glands in nursing dogs. Bacteria can enter the glands if the skin is broken, which can occur when the puppies scratch the skin during nursing. Without treatment, the bacteria can spread into the bloodstream and cause sepsis, which can be fatal. Mastitis is also dangerous for nursing puppies, as it can cause the mother's milk supply to reduce and even dry up, which puts the puppies at risk of dehydration and malnutrition. Read on to learn about the symptoms of mastitis and how it's treated.
Symptoms Of Mastitis
Mastitis is a painful condition that causes the nipples and mammary glands to become swollen and inflamed. Bloody or cloudy secretions are often present in the milk, and your dog may become reluctant to let the puppies nurse. Mastitis can make your dog irritable and withdrawn, and you may notice she seems lethargic and loses her appetite. The signs of mastitis aren't always noticeable right away unless you're keeping a close eye on your dog and her puppies, so it's best to observe your dog nursing as often as possible to ensure you pick up any signs early.
Your vet will confirm your dog has mastitis by examining her nipples and mammary glands. They may take a sample of milk to establish the strain of bacteria that's causing the infection, and blood and urine samples are often taken to check for signs of inflammation and dehydration.
As mastitis is a bacterial infection, antibiotics are required to eradicate the bacteria. Your vet may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory to speed up the healing of the mammary glands. If your dog is dehydrated, she will require intravenous fluids. She will also need to rest as much as possible to aid recovery. The puppies can still nurse during treatment if your dog is able to continue nursing. Your vet will examine each of the puppies to ensure they are at a healthy weight and hydrated. They may recommend you bottle feed if they have any concerns about the health of the puppies or the mother's ability to continue feeding them, and they will show you how to do this and be on hand to offer support.
When you notice signs of mastitis, you should have your dog seen by your vet services provider immediately. Prompt treatment prevents unnecessary suffering and can protect the health and wellbeing of your dog and her puppies.