It is prevalent for a dog to produce milk when she has had a litter of puppies and need to feed them, but what is not common is dogs producing milk when they are not pregnant or nursing.
When a dog becomes pregnant, the first signs of milk comes before the babies are born and then continue to produce for the nursing duration until the pups are weaned.
However, there are periods when you may see milk or what appears to be milk coming from your dog’s nipples, even though they have not recently had puppies or even had puppies at all.
Can dogs produce milk if not pregnant?
The short answer is yes. They can produce milk even though they are not pregnant. It is not common, but it can happen. You may have noticed the nipples on your dog leaking recently or found remnants of what appeared to be milk coming from the breast.
The discharge is certainly white and thick in nature, making anyone looking at it assume right away that it is milk. After all, lactating is a natural function that happens in female dogs due to hormone change because they are pregnant.
Why do female dogs produce milk when not pregnant?
There are a couple of different reasons that could explain why your dog is producing milk when she is not pregnant.
Like people, dogs experience issues with their hormones and thyroid, causing an imbalance. When their thyroid hormone is too low for normal levels, throwing off their body, causing excessive weight gain and other symptoms that mic pregnancy. In the midst of the body changing, the body begins producing trace amounts of milk as a direct reaction to the low hormone.
This is something that is not curable, but does need to be treated and diagnosed by a vet. With proper medication and treatment, the issue of random milk production could be minimized over time sot that your dog is not experiencing this regularly.
If your dog has given birth to puppies in the past, small amounts of milk or colostrum will develop and leak from the nipples periodically. It is not a sign that anything is wrong, just that the body is going through a small change, and hormones may be readjusting in your dog.
This is sometimes present when a dog that has not been spayed goes through cycles in heat but does not get pregnant. The changes is hormones could result in a day or two of milk lactation.
If your dog has been around other puppies or young animal that has attempted to nurse from her nipples, her body may react with small amounts of milk production as a reaction to them being lactated by this animal. It does not matter what type of animal tries to nurse.
It sends a signal hormonally that milk is needed, so the body begins with production. It is a good idea to try and get the animal away, nursing with a bottle or relocating it back with its own mother so that it gets the nutrients it needs and your dog does not endure milk production.
Unfortunately, there is one condition that is not as easy to brush off when it comes to milk being produced when your dog is not pregnant.The potential for a tumor on the mammary gland is significant in some dog breeds.
This means that the dog has a tumor on their teat, either inside or out. When this tumor is present, a white substance is produced that appears like milk, but it is really pus from the tumor attempting to drain from the nipple. The best way to avoid this type of health condition is to have your dog spayed before she goes through her first heat cycle and experiences hormonal changes.
Can you tell how far along a dog is if she is producing milk?
If your dog is pregnant, and you notice that she is producing milk, you can expect that the pregnancy is coming to an end soon. In most pregnancies, especially those dogs that have had more than one litter, a sign of milk and lactation means that your dog is about a week away from giving birth.
The hormones in her body is starting to change and she is preparing to have milk available once the puppies are born, so they can begin nursing right away. You may notice it start to build up with her barely producing, then having lots of milk drain just before she delivers.
If this litter is your dog’s first time, she may not produce milk a week before giving birth. If she produces any at all, it may be just a small portion and it will be a day or two before she actually goes into labor. Using milk to determine where a dog is in labor is often more reliable after their second or third litter where the body has adjusted to pregnancy hormones and the changes that come with them.
How long do dogs produce milk?
When your dog is pregnant and then moves into nursing, it is important for you to know how long she will be producing milk. The short answer is that it will be throughout the nursing time frame and until the puppies have been weaned from her and eating on their own. In many healthy cases, your dog can nurse for up to 8 weeks after giving birth, so she may produce milk anywhere from 9-10 weeks.
If your dog is not pregnant and has started producing milk due to another animal trying to nurse, you could see the milk production last one to two weeks usually.
By that time, the animal will have discovered that there isn’t enough milk being produced and learned to eat on their own. In some rare cases, the milk production may increase enough to sustain the animal and they may nurse for an entire six to eight weeks.