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Mastitis in dogs is an infection of the mammary glands. Mastitis is caused by a bacterial infection. While it is more commonly a bacterial infection, fungal infections can also occur.

Trauma to the nipple or teat canal can allow bacteria to enter the teat canal, traveling up into the mammary gland and creating a bacterial infection.

Dogs that have had mastitis are more prone to developing it again. All dogs can develop mastitis, including male dogs. This means that all breeds of dogs, of any age, and new or experienced mothers, can be at risk of developing mastitis while nursing.

Types of Canine Mastitis

There are two types of mastitis in dogs.

Galactostasis or Chronic Mastitis

Galactostasis, also known as caked breasts, is a type of mastitis that affects dogs in late stages of pregnancy. Milk can accumulate and distend the teats, causing pain, though there’s no infection and the dog will not show signs of illness.

Acute mastitis

In acute mastitis, the affected glands are hot and painful. If acute mastitis progresses to septic mastitis, signs of systemic illness such as fever, depression, anorexia, and lethargy may be seen, and the dam may neglect the neonates.

Causes of Mastitis in Dogs

Mastitis is caused by several well-known bacteria: Escherichia coli (E. coli), Staphylococci, and β-hemolytic Streptococci are most commonly cultured.

In addition to bacterial or fungal infection, an accumulation of milk built up in the breast can also cause mastitis in dogs.

Bacteria gain access to the mammary gland by several possible routes:

  • Ascending infection via teat canals
  • Trauma inflicted on the mammary glands by a puppy’s toenails or teeth
  • Poor hygiene
  • Systemic infection originating elsewhere in the body

Signs of Mastitis in Dogs

The most common sign of mastitis in a male or female dog is a swollen breast.

Other signs of mastitis in dogs include;

  • Discolored breasts
  • Inflamed or red teats
  • Swollen teats
  • Ulcerated breasts
  • Mammary glands that are hot to the touch
  • Blood or pus in the milk
  • Blood or pus oozing from the teats
  • Painful breasts
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting

Diagnosing Mastitis in Dogs

Diagnosis is based on the case history, clinical picture and complementary tests which may include;

  • Laboratory tests: can reveal data about inflammation such as left-shift leukocytosis or abnormal platelet counts in more severe cases. Cytology shows increased neutrophils and erythrocytes. Free or intracellular bacteria may be observed.
  • Microbiological milk culture: this will guide the antibiotic therapy.
  • Ultrasound of mammary glands: reduced tissue differentiation, echogenicity and blood flow.

Treatment of Mastitis in Dogs

Your veterinarian is the key source of information about the health and well-being of your best friend, so contact them for more information or advice—especially if your dog is pregnant or nursing puppies.

Treatment will depend on the severity of the mastitis and the needs of mom and her pups. Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat the bacterial infection. Applying warm compresses to the infected teats helps them to open and drain. Proper nutrition for both mom and her puppies is important during this time, especially if the puppies can’t nurse due to the discomfort mom is experiencing.


Mastitis is very rare in spayed dogs — so spaying female dogs is always the best prevention of mastitis in dogs. You can also help dogs that are lactating by ensuring that the puppies’ nails are kept short to minimize their trauma to the gland. Ensure that all glands are being nursed, keep the dog in a clean and safe environment, and change bedding frequently


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