Mastitis is the medical term for inflammation of a mammary gland, or breast. Male and female dogs can develop mastitis, but it almost always occurs in mother dogs with nursing puppies.
A mother dog develops milk near the end of her pregnancy. Her body is under a great deal of stress from carrying a litter of puppies, giving birth, and nursing babies. Mastitis can be fatal for nursing mothers if it is not noticed and treated early.
Nursing puppies that do not grow or hungry puppies can be the first sign of mastitis. Minor swelling of the nipples may be the only noticeable sign from the mother dog at this point because the infection has not progressed far enough to cause illness or pain. Infection progresses quickly once it begins. Mammary glands become swollen, warm to the touch, and appear red or purple.
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