If your dog has recently given birth, and is experiencing pain when it nurses its pups, it may have developed mastitis. Mastitis is a bacterial infection that can affect the teats of nursing dogs. The infection occurs when teats are injured due to scratching or biting. As the pups nurse, germs travel up through the nipples into the milk ducts. Once infected, the nipples will become swollen and sore. They'll also develop a foul-smelling discharge. Unfortunately, the infection can transfer through the milk, which means great care must be taken to protect both mother and puppies. Here are three steps you should take if your mother dog has developed mastitis.
Trim the Belly Fur
Most of the belly fur should have come off naturally while your dog was pregnant. However, if there is still a small amount of hair around the teat areas, it should be removed. Trimming your dog's belly region will prevent discharge from drying in the hair. When discharge is left to dry in the belly hair, it can lead to reinfection of the nipples. Until the mastitis is treated, you should keep your pet's belly trimmed.
Keep the Area Clean
As stated earlier, mastitis causes a foul-smelling discharge. To prevent reinfection, and to help speed up the recovery time, your dog's teats should be cleaned several times a day. Your dog may be too uncomfortable to allow you to physically wash its teats. If that's the case, place a towel under your dog and carefully pour soapy water over its teats. Rinse with clear water. For best results, use a medicated liquid soap to cleanse them.
Prevent Pups from Nursing on Infected Nipples
Because mastitis is a bacterial infection, it can be passed to nursing puppies through the breast milk. To keep your pups from becoming ill, you should prevent them from nursing on the infected teats. If all the nipples are affected, feed the pups a substitute formula until the infection is cleared. If only a few of the nipples are infected, you can cover those and allow the pups to nurse off the healthy ones. To keep the pups from nursing on the infected teats, simply wrap a piece of cloth or gauze around your dog's belly to cover the affected nipples.
If your dog has developed mastitis, you should contact an emergency vet as soon as possible. Use the tips provided here to keep your dog comfortable and prevent cross-contamination to the pups.