Mastitis is an infection of the milk ducts. Also called 'mammitis' or 'mastadenitis, mastitis during nursing can be caused by a breast (teat) engorgement (swelling). Mastitis can also be caused by a blocked milk duct. You may see cracked or damaged skin or tissue around the nipple. Bacteria get inside, either by a crack or even through the pores, and can infect the dam suddenly, even if the teat is not engorged. An engorged breast is a mild form of mastitis. Mastitis, if not treated, can lead to gangrene mastitis. Gangrene mastitis is caused by bacteria that do not require oxygen to grow (anaerobic bacteria). The skin turns black and dies, leaving a huge hole that will drain pus-blood. The dam will have a high temperature and needs antibiotics. Gangrene mastitis results in the dam losing the teat. If your dam develops mastitis, begin treatment immediately to avoid it turning into gangrene mastitis.
Tuesday morning this dam woke to a very hard lump under her teat. Her milk ducts had become plugged and mastitis had rapidly set in. Her teat was not impacted with milk, but it had gone quickly to mastitis, missing the step of an undrained teat. Why does this happens? It is random. Bad luck.
This is the start of mastitis in a toy breed. When you compare the teat with mastitis with the others it is very obvious there is an infection. This can come up suddenly, even if the teat is not engorged.
Picture shows day two. Notice the blood mixed with pus.
You have to drain the infected teat three times a day.
By Wednesday the teat was producing pure pus. Notice the pus mixed with blood coming from the teat.
Thursday the teat still contained pus. Here you can see both pus and milk coming out of the infected teat. It looks like there is one clear duct with white milk and the others are infected with pus coming out.
This can be serious. The dam could lose the teat. We have had experience with this issue and knew to immediately start the dam on antibiotics, hot packs and draining.
A hot-warm pack should be placed on the infected teat four times a day. This bag of IV fluid works very well. Just zap the bag in the microwave. Make sure the bag is not so hot as to burn the skin. Test it on your own wrist before placing it on the dam.
This picture shows a heat pack being placed on a dog's teat with mastitis.
Once the dam is on antibiotics it is safe to let the two larger pups suck on the teat to help clear up the infection.
You will have a very hard time clearing the infection if the teat is not sucked on.
It may take some encouraging on your part as the pups will prefer the other teats over that one.
YEAH!!! Success! Friday morning we are back to milk.
You can still feel the hard lump way up under her teat. She will need to be on antibiotics for a while still.
This is a very happy ending thanks to acting fast. Experience has taught us that the faster you act the quicker you can turn this around. Remember, an impacted teat that was not drained can lead to mastitis and sometimes mastitis just happens. You have to be monitoring your dam’s teats regularly.
Courtesy of MistyTrails Havanese
Although this section is based on a whelping of an English Mastiff, it also contains good general whelping information on large-breed dogs. You can find more whelping information in the links above. The links below tell the story of Sassy, an English Mastiff. Sassy has a wonderful temperament. She loves humans and adores children. An all-around mild mannered, wonderful Mastiff, Sassy, however, is not the best mother toward her puppies. She is not rejecting them; she will nurse them when a human places them on her to feed, however she will not clean the pups or pay any attention to them. It is as if they are not her puppies. This litter is getting mom’s milk with major human interaction, manually giving each and every pup what they need. In return, the pups will be super socialized and will make remarkable pets, however the work involved is astounding. It takes one dedicated breeder to keep this situation healthy. Thankfully this litter has just that. Read the links below to get the full story. The pages within include a wealth of information that everyone can appreciate and benefit from.