Preventing Mastitis in Dogs

If you haven’t had a pregnant dog before, it may be your first time to hear of the word mastitis. It calls for serious attention, so make sure you read this if you are not acutely aware of this illness.

What is Mastitis?

Mastitis refers to the infection of a mother dog’s mammary glands. It is caused by bacteria that can get to the dog due to many factors including unsanitary settlement conditions, weak immune system, and underlying medical conditions.

Mastitis causes the dog’s breasts to turn pinkish or red, producing a yellowish discharge. The breasts also get warm, a sure sign of bacterial presence. It is a life-threatening condition because the bacteria can spread quickly when not treated early.

Signs of Mastitis

Apart from pinkish or red breasts that produce a yellowish discharge, Mastitis also causes the dog to become lethargic, weak, and without appetite. If the dog has just given birth, she may show no interest in her puppies, owing to her painful glands. If you frequently hear the puppies crying out for their mother to feed them, and the mother refuses to come near them, then you should check if the breasts are warm. If they are warm, bring your dog to the veterinarian right away.

What to Do as An Owner

Once your dog shows the visible signs of mastitis, the best thing to do is to bring her to the veterinarian immediately. No time should be wasted because the bacteria can quickly spread in your dog’s body, making it more challenging to treat. When left untreated, it can even lead to death.

The veterinarian usually prescribes antibiotics and ointments for the dog. Applying ointments on the breasts also mean puppies cannot breastfeed from the mother, so you have to buy milk supplements for the puppies. These can be readily purchased from any pet store.

Before your dog arrives home, make sure to clean and disinfect her area. Provide clean and safe cushions from where she can rest without problems. And now that your dog is on her way to recovery, you will be the new “mother” of the puppies. Make sure to give them milk regularly and always to clean their area.

Always have fresh water and easy-to-chew food for your dog, because at this stage she needs a lot of caloric intake to recover. Give her the prescribed supplements as recommended by the veterinarian.

How to Prevent Mastitis in the Future

To prevent mastitis, proper hygiene is necessary for your dog. Make sure that you bathe the mother dog regularly, and to clean her area at least twice a day. During pregnancy give her supplements that can help boost her immune system. And be on the lookout when she is due to give birth. Some dogs need help with delivery, so be on their side during this challenging time.

Once delivery is successful, you should continue to be on guard. Damp a clean cloth and wash your dog’s breasts every day. After two weeks, you can start bathing your dog again. If you notice a struggle with your dog doing breastfeed, ask for a veterinarian’s opinion on what your options are. Most likely you will be recommended to give milk supplements instead.

Mastitis can be prevented with proper care during and after your dog’s pregnancy. It is a life-threatening disease so do not ignore the warning signs that tell you your dog is not feeling well.

Zoe Wolf
Since the age of 10, Zoe has translated her passion for animals into volunteer work for various animal shelters around her hometown of Newport, RI. Aside from being a Puppy Smarts dedicated writer, she also operates her own photography business.

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