Because of the nature of the mammary gland of dogs, they have the tendency to get affected by enlarged nipples. If you notice your dogs nipples suddenly get bigger /enlarged and you are certain she is not breeding, immediate care should be taken because swollen nipples in dogs can prove to be a severe medical issue such as an infection or cancer or so.
Enlargement of nipples in dogs while not breeding can be caused by a number of things and these things are; Tumor in the Mammary gland, Mastitis, cancer, hormonal reaction while in heat cycle and pregnancy. Each of these are going to be explained below.
Characteristics of Mastitis in dogs
If your dog nipples suddenly get enlarged and she is not breeding the first thing that should come to your mind is a case of mastitis because this is the most common cause of swollen nipples in dogs. Mastitis occurs as a result of an infection in the mammary gland of female dog.
Mastitis is most likely to occur when your dog is a nursing mother. When mastitis occurs, the nipple of your dog will become enlarged and your dog will feel pain whenever her nipples are touched.
If your dog has just given birth, you should keep your eyes open for any unusual appearance on her nipples because mastitis occurs around the first two weeks into nursing puppies and the milk produced from the swollen nipple will be toxic to the puppies when they feed on it.
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Why Are My Dogs Nipples Enlarged
At the slightest hint of change in your dogs health after child birth, you should contact your veterinarian as fast as possible because mastitis infection has the tendency to get worst and spread in a flash, and when this happens, it can prove to be fatal to your dogs health.
Mastitis infection are of two types which can be known as galactostasis and acute septic mastitis. *Galactostasis; in this type of mastitis infection, milk gets accumulated in the breast / around the nipple which would cause the nipple to get enlarged. *Acute Septic mastitis; this type of mastitis Infection, bacteria gets into the mammary gland which will turn to an infection later and make the nipple swollen and cause a painful sensation when touched.
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Symptoms of mastitis in dogs
There are a certain signs and symptom that when you notice them in your dog you should know that she has a mastitis infection. Such signs and symptom are ; •Refusal to nurse her puppies, •Oddly colored milk •Blood In milk •Crying •Lump in the nipples •Tender nipples •Wailing •Lethargy.
Characteristics of mammary gland tumor in dogs
Mammary gland tumor is another medical issue which can be the possible cause of enlarged nipple in your dog. Mammary gland tumor occurs as a result of excess growth of body tissue near the breast or around the nipple area, mammary gland tumors is more likely to be found in female dogs.
Because this is similar to cancer, people may think the lump will be hard, but no the tumor present in the nipple can either be soft or hard, but will later soon turn into an abscess in the nipple.
Do not think that mammary gland tumor is only found in the nipples, because the tumor can be found in various locations and mammary gland tumor does not have a definite size, it can be formed in different shapes and sizes.
Mammary gland tumor do not have a specific color, they can be in either purple or red, so any of the two colors indicates the presence of mammary gland tumor. In a situation where you notice the swollen nipples have started to bleed you should go to the hospital quickly because that is a sign that your dog had most likely developed a case of serious cancer.
Mammary gland tumor has lots of types, but is mainly grouped in two parts which are the malignant tumor and the Benign tumor. The malignant tumor; In this type of mammary gland tumor, developed in the body with an irregular shape and size and it had a very rapid growth in other words, when not attended to quickly, will cause a drastic decrease in the health of your day.
Benign tumors; This type of mammary gland tumor is usually present in the body of your dog for a while before it actually starts to develop tumors on the outside which means it grows slowly and takes time before you will notice, plus it is not hard but soft and have a smooth texture.
Causes of mammary gland tumor and mastitis infection in dogs
You will have to go to the veterinarian for treatment when you have seen signs and symptoms, and you are now sure your dog has either mammary gland tumor or mastitis infection.
Mastitis infection happens as a result of presence of bacteria in the mammary gland, and such bacteria can enter into your dog’s body through various methods; A contaminated or a dirty environment will definitely harbor bacteria which can enter your dogs body while nursing or during child birth.
When puppies are born, their claws and paws get stained by dirt from the floor, and while playing, they may scratch their mothers body and the forth from their paws will get into the wound and if not properly cleaned will store that bacteria which may later develop into mastitis infection.
Mammary gland tumors can occur as a result of various factors, ranging from factors related to the environment to factors related to hormones. Provided your dog has had her heat cycle for a number of times, she is open to development of mammary gland tumor, so you need to be very attentive to her as it can happen at any stage of her life.
Another reason for the development of mammary gland tumor in dogs is if she was spayed at an older age. That is why it is advised to get your dog spayed immediately she attains sexual maturity, getting her spayed few years later can put her at a risk of developing mammary gland tumor later in her life.
When you take your dog to the veterinarian for further examination and treatment, a sample of breast milk will be taken from the nipple affected and the milk will be examined for any bacteria to determine what exactly is wrong. A complete blood test will be done on your dog to know the level of seriousness of the mastitis infection.
Because some of the tumors can be notices on the nipple or around the breast does not mean those are the only tumors present in your dogs body so an ultrasound scan will be done to locate any hidden tumors.
In the case where your dog has been diagnosed with acute septic mastitis, a number of antibiotics may be prescribed for regular intake and or compression that will be applied on and around the enlarged nipples.
In a case where galactostasis is the problem, a veterinarian and only one will suggest the with hold of food for 24 hours and withhold of water for 12 hours. If you decide to do this on your own and then realize it was not a case of galactostasis, it will be dangerous to the health of your dog. So only under the advice of a veterinarian should this be done.
In cases of mammary gland tumor, for the diagnoses , a biopsy will be used in the hospital. A sample of the tumor will be taken to a medical laboratory for the specification of which tumor it is, malignant or benign tumor. More test will be carried out such as an x-ray and an ultrasound to know how long the cancer has been in the body of your dog.
At the earliest stage of being diagnosed with cancer, the best treatment to be used is surgical removal of the tumor and hopefully the treatment will be effective. At the later stage of being diagnosed with cancer, chemotherapy will be the only and best option for treatment, and test will show later if chemotherapy is successful or not.
Prevention of enlarged nipples in dogs
In order to prevent enlarged nipples in your dog, you will need to be an attentive dog owner. You should monitor your dog closely every time, because mastitis infection develops in dogs when your dog has given birth, you should ensure to keep puppies nails shortly trimmed and their paws should be clean always.
There should be no hair/ fur surrounding the nipples and mammary gland keep fur under your dogs body trimmed always. Since mastitis happens when a dog just puts to bed, avoid all puppies suckling on a particular nipple, encourage them to suck on different nipples.
When your dog has been treated either through chemotherapy or surgical removal of the tumors, do make sure to keep an eye on the recovery of your dog and also make sure to visit your veterinarian from time to time. You should also check every where around your dogs body’s even after treatment so you will be able to know when there is any sign of another tumor development do check everywhere on your dogs body not only around her mammary gland.
Medical cost of treatment for enlarged nipples
The amount of money required for the treatment of enlarged nipples depends on the area you are staying, how serious you dogs case is and the value of your veterinarian. Treatment for Mastitis can start from $200 down to $2000.
While the treatment for mammary gland tumor is more intense than mastitis treatment so the treatment for mammary gland tumor is more expensive. Ranging from $900 down to $15000. But the average amount for the effective treatment of mammary gland tumor is around $6000.