Dogs are mammals, which means female dogs make milk to feed their puppies. Just like other mammals (including humans), dogs have mammary glands that produce milk. The dog’s teats become swollen as they become filled with milk for her puppies.
But there are also times a female dog’s teats may swell that have nothing to do with the dog being pregnant.
Has your female dog’s teats started to swell? Are you worried she may have a medical condition that’s causing her teats to swell? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We understand this can be concerning, especially if your dog is not pregnant.
We’ve put together some information about what may cause a dog’s teats to swell. Let’s get started!
What Makes a Female Dog’s Teats Swell?
Along with pregnancy, there are other reasons a female dog’s teats may swell, including the following:
Mastitis is a common cause of swollen teats in a female if she’s recently given birth. The dog’s nipples swell and become infected as they nurse the puppies. Over time, the nipples may become more swollen or even feel hard. They may also fail to produce milk; however, any milk produced is toxic to the puppies.
A dog with mastitis may refuse to feed her puppies, have discolored milk, blood in her milk, cry, be lethargic, and more.
2. Mammary Gland Tumor
Just like humans, dogs can develop mammary gland tumors similar to breast cancer in humans. This is more common in female dogs than in male dogs.
The mammary tumor develops as a mass around the dog’s teats, causing red or purple skin. The tumor or mass can be hard or soft and usually develops an abscess.
Mammary gland tumors may be benign or malignant.
3. Heat Cycles
Another common cause of swollen teats in female dogs is her heat cycles. A dog’s heat cycle can cause her to have swollen nipples, even if she doesn’t become pregnant. This may happen somewhere in the first or 2nd stage of a dog’s heat cycle (there are four stages).
Once her heat cycle is over, the female dog’s teats should reduce in size once again.
How You Can Help Your Dog
For a female dog who is not in heat or pregnant and yet has swollen teats, it’s best to have her checked by the vet. The dog could be suffering from an infection or another condition that must be treated by the vet.
The earlier your dog is treated, the sooner she can feel better, too!