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Canine mastitis is a breast infection in brood bitches, usually occuring a few weeks after whelping. It is not that common, but you should be aware of it. The breasts of a lactating brood bitch are normally warm and enlarged, but never red, dark, hot or painful when touched. Advanced canine mastitis presents as a hard, hot and almost black breast segment, which is extremely painful for the brood bitch when touched. Canine mastitis can be caused by weaning puppies too early, severe scratches from puppies claws or some other infection.
A bitch with canine mastitis may be running a fever, be listless and possibly be off her food. She may not allow her puppies to nurse, and if she does, she will be "snappy" when they touch the affected area.
Treating Canine Mastitis
If your brood bitch shows signs of breast infection it may be canine mastitis, so get her to your vet immediately. He will prescribe some antibiotics and possibly advise hand feeding of the pups. However, I have found that on getting the canine mastitis fever down, she will allow the pups to nurse again, and feeding from the infected breast will not affect the pups at all... in fact I've found it helps clean the breast infection out.
Invariably the infection will cause the breast will rupture out the side, leaving a large open wound which must be cleaned daily. The antibiotics will prevent further reinfection. You'll find that when she has litters of puppies in future, she not produce milk in the breast segment that was affected by canine mastitis.
Russell Savige has 18 years experience as a professional dog breeder. He is the owner of Training Dog Breeds, which includes a massive Directory of dog related websites, covering breeds and breeding, training, rearing and health issues in dogs.
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