Some owners are concerned with the look of their dog’s nipples, while others don’t give it a second thought. It may seem like a strange thing to pay attention to, but your pooch’s nipples can give you some useful information about their past.
If you’ve had your dog since they were a pup, you already know their history. However, if you have adopted an adult dog, you may wonder about their age and if they’ve ever had puppies.
Do dogs’ nipples shrink after spaying?
Yes, your dog’s nipples will shrink after spaying. How much of an effect it has is more complicated, and depends on a number of factors.
What is Spaying?
To understand the effect spaying can have on your dog, it’s important to know what it is. Spaying is a surgical procedure. The vet will remove your dog’s reproductive organs, including the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes. This is how a typical spay is performed.
It’s also possible to remove the uterus and fallopian tubes, but leave the ovaries. This allows them to maintain normal hormone production, while ensuring they can’t have puppies.
The last option is to remove the ovaries, leaving the uterus and fallopian tubes. The effects of this are essentially the same as a typical spay, because the ovaries produce female hormones.
When a dog is spayed, their hormone production drops dramatically. It was once believed that this would cure many behavioral problems, and help prevent health issues. However, recent research has shown that there are significant risks from spaying, as well as benefits.
What Affects Nipple Shrinkage?
There are a few things that will affect how much a dog’s nipples can shrink after spaying. The first is their age. Dogs typically have two heat cycles each year. When a dog has a heat cycle, their nipples get bigger because their mammary glands swell.
After the heat cycle is over, the nipples should go back to their normal size. However, over time, they can become slightly larger. The tissue changes that occur with the heat cycle can become permanent.
Pregnancy can also have an effect. When a dog is pregnant, their mammary glands swell significantly in preparation for nursing. They fill up with milk, and the nipples enlarge. As the puppies nurse, the nipples can become more enlarged due to the suckling and pulling. They will shrink after weaning, but they may not go back to their previous size.
Like any surgery, spaying has some physical risk. If your dog’s nipples are swollen after spaying, they could have an infection in their mammary glands or abdomen. Other signs of infection include lethargy, fever, and pain. Your dog may have a discharge from their nipples if they have an abdominal infection.
Effects of Spaying
Spaying causes the dog to go through various physical and behavioral changes. A traditional spay removes the ovaries, which are responsible for creating female hormones estrogen and pogesterone.
Vets have often advocated for spaying, because it does reduce certain health risks. These include mammary, uterine, and ovarian cancer. However, these cancers are relatively rare in dogs, so the benefit may not be as high as owners are led to believe.
Spaying was also long touted as a way to solve behavioral issues. However, recent research reveals a more complex picture. Spaying can reduce some sexually related behaviors, but it doesn’t change other behaviors.
There’s also a higher risk of joint disorders and hip dysplasia, particularly in larger breeds. Spaying also causes what’s known as “spay incontinence” in 4-20% of females. This causes them to pee inappropriately because they can’t control their bladder. It increases the risk of brain tumors by 11 times.
Spayed dogs are more anxious, fearful, and aggressive. They are also more difficult to train. They are more likely to experience separation anxiety and panic or anxiety attacks.
Age has a large impact on the effects of spaying. Dogs spayed later, when they are at least 18 months to 2 years old, show less negative health and behavioral effects than those spayed earlier.
Will a dog’s nipples go back to normal after spaying?
There really is no normal when it comes to nipples. Nipple size varies based on many factors, including breed, genetics, pregnancy, and the age at which they were spayed.
Experts agree that spaying should result in nipple shrinkage, but this doesn’t guarantee that they will return to the state they were in before puberty.
Will My Dog’s Large Nipples Shrink Back to Normal?
Some dogs have large nipples or saggy mammary glands. This is typically caused by multiple pregnancies. Its similar to what happens to human women. The mammary glands fill with milk, causing stretching. The added weight of the milk combined with gravity also plays a role.
When it comes to the nipples themselves, they enlarge so the pups can suck. Nursing puppies cause further enlargement, because the pups suckle and tug at the nipples.
They should shrink back within 6-10 weeks after giving birth, but they will not go back to their prepregnancy state.
Spaying should cause some shrinkage, but there’s no way to predict how much they will shrink.
Why Can’t I Find My Dog’s Nipples?
All dogs, even males, have nipples. The amount of nipples a dog has varies. Most have an even number of nipples, but some have an odd number. Males and young females will have flat nipples that can be difficult to see, but they are there.
If your female was spayed at a young age, she may have flat or even inverted nipples. This can make it difficult to see and even feel them. The dog’s hair can also make their nipples more difficult to find. You may find small bumps that are actually nipples, or even a slight indentation in the case of inverted nipples.
Flat or inverted nipples are not usually a cause for concern. Inverted nipples do require a bit of extra care, however. Dirt can become trapped in the area. As a pet parent, you’ll need to clean the area. The easiest way to do this is to use a wet wipe and clean them daily.
How long does it take for a dog’s nipples to shrink?
It takes about 3 weeks for the hormones from the reproductive system to completely leave the body. Your dog’s nipples may begin to shrink shortly after spaying, and shrink gradually over the next two months.
Again, there’s no way to predict exact results. Most owners notice a change within the first few weeks.
Do female dogs still lactate after spaying?
It is possible for a female dog to lactate after being spayed. This typically occurs due to false pregnancy. However, it can also occur if your dog was pregnant before being spayed or is nursing puppies.
A false pregnancy occurs when your dog’s body undergoes changes like those of pregnancy. They can gain weight, experience behavior changes, and lactate. These symptoms are caused by hormonal changes. These are the same changes that occur in pregnancy, only the dog is not actually pregnant if they have a false pregnancy.
If your dog was experiencing a false pregnancy before spaying, this may continue after they are spayed. It’s also possible for the hormonal changes caused by being spayed to cause a false pregnancy, although it is rare.
False pregnancy symptoms often resolve on their own in two or three weeks. If it continues longer than 3 weeks, you’ll need to consult your vet. There may be an underlying medical issue.
Pregnancy or Nursing
It is possible to spay a pregnant dog. Of course, this terminates the pregnancy as well as ensuring that she will not have pups in the future. Even though the pregnancy is terminated, the body may still exhibit some symptoms of pregnancy, including lactation, after spaying.
Once a mother has puppies, she should be allowed to wean them before being spayed. The surgery site is very close to the mammary gland, which will be swollen and engorged with milk. If the mammary gland is nicked during surgery, milk will pour into the incision, causing complications. The medication given during and after spaying can also be transferred to puppies through the milk.
Unless there’s an emergency situation, the mother should be finished with the weaning process and her milk allowed to dry before she is spayed.