All dogs have nipples on their stomach–even males. The male dog’s nipples don’t actually have a function, but the female dog’s nipples are to produce milk in order to feed her puppies after she gives birth to them. Female dog nipples can also become enlarged due to the specific times in her cycle or she could actually have a medical condition. Read on to learn about your dog’s sagging nipples.
Why Are My Dog’s Nipples Sagging?
The most obvious and common reason for a female dog’s nipples to sag is because she is producing milk for her puppies. This causes them to be larger in size and you will also see that the tissue underneath the nipples is swollen because they contain her milk. When the puppies nurse, they drink the milk out of her breasts and the breasts and nipples will shrink some when there is no milk left in them.
Then the tissues will become enlarged as well as the nipples after she produces more milk to feed them again. This cycle repeats itself over and over again in a female dog that is nursing her puppies.
Mother nature helps with the milk production because when the puppies are first born, the female dog only makes a small amount of milk. As the puppies get larger, she produces more milk to keep up with those pups’ ravenous appetite.
So, when it’s about time for the furballs to nurse again, there is more milk produced to feed them. Be aware at this time in your female dog’s life, she will also drink a lot more water than normal, so you should supply her with a large bowl of fresh clean water at all times. In addition, she will likely need to go outside to urinate more often than normal as well.
Can a Female Dog’s Nipples Swell If Not Pregnant?
A female dog’s nipples can swell even if she isn’t pregnant. The mammary glands and nipples will swell when she comes into a heat cycle and you will notice that you can see the nipples more pronounced than normal–especially if your dog has short hair. Female dogs that are not spayed will always have nipples that are larger than on a female dog that is spayed because they have swollen and then decreased with each heat cycle over the years.
If you know that your dog is not pregnant or in heat because she is spayed and you notice swollen nipples, it’s a cause for concern. Dogs can contract mammary cancer especially if they are intact and not spayed or if they were spayed at a later time in life. The hormones that are present during heat cycles can cause the mammary glands to grow and it can cause extra abnormal growth which in turn leads to cancer.
If your female dog has swollen nipples and she is feeding her puppies or she had a false pregnancy, she can contract mastitis. This is a bacterial infection that can actually be life-threatening to your female dog. Mastitis can occur in spayed females as well as male dogs too. If the nursing mother has scratches from the overzealous puppies feeding, their tiny claws will scratch her near the nipples.
They push their little paws against her while nursing to get a larger flow of milk and this causes scratches on the mother dog. If bacteria gets into one of these scratches, it can cause a bacterial infection to occur. It’s important to keep her surroundings very clean while she is nursing puppies. The signs of mastitis are swollen nipples and she could secrete pus or bloody milk if she doesn’t have puppies. If she does have a litter, the puppies will most likely look very thin and malnourished because it’s too painful to feed them.
If you believe your dog has mastitis, you should take her to the vet right away. She will get antibiotics and possibly need IV fluids in order to get well. If she has puppies, you will need to bottle feed them so they can gain weight and grow as they should. Catching the signs of this disease early and getting treatment right away will lead to a full recovery for your four-legged family member.
Why Are My Dog’s Nipples Enlarged After Heat?
The size, color, and shape of a female dog’s nipples will change when she goes into a heat cycle. Your female dog will most likely be licking her nipples a lot during the time she is in heat and can also pull out the fur around them. These two items will make the nipples appear swollen because you can see them much better with less hair around them, so that the nipples look like they are protruding.
The nipples swell because of the fluctuation in her hormone levels as they release estrogen and progesterone. This results in increased blood flow in the mammary glands, so it makes the nipples tighter and enlarged. On white dogs, you may also notice that the nipples change color and look like they are pink with a marbled effect on them. The nipples may change to a red or darker color than normal as well and this is very normal.
How Long DOes It Take For a Dog’s Nipples To Stop Sagging After Heat?
After your dog is finished with her heat cycle her nipples will still look swollen for quite some time. As she stops producing so many hormones and the blood flow decreases to her mammory glands the nipples will begin to shrink back to their normal size.
On average this takes about 3 to 4 weeks to return to normal size, color and shape. It can take up to 4 months to return to normal in some dogs though. If you suspect something is wrong, take your female dog to the vet for a check up.
How Long Does It Take For a Dog’s Nipples to Stop Sagging After Pregnancy?
For the first several weeks of their lives, puppies rely on their mother’s milk for 100% of their nutrition. Puppies grow very fast after they are born and at some point the milk produced by their mom will not be sufficient to feed them so they can grow and be healthy. The mother dog goes through a weaning process for her pups so they will slowly begin to drink less milk and start to eat dog food.
After the puppies are about 5 to 6 weeks old, the mother’s milk supply will start to diminsh to wean them. At this point in time the playful pups also have very sharp teeth and claws that make it very uncomfortable for the mother to nurse them.
This is the time to start offering the puppies solid food with warm water on it so they can lap it up for nourishment. You then reduce the amount of water in the food until they are eating hard food and drinking water on their own. The entire weaning period is about one week for her nipples to return to normal.
What To Do About My Dog’s Nipples Sagging?
If your dog has gone through heat cycles for a few years and/or had more than one litter of puppies, she may have sagging nipples from all the hormone changes she’s been through. Spaying your dog at a young age will prevent sagging nipples, but the hormonal changes that occur with each heat cycle can make her nipples sag all the time and not just when she’s in heat or pregnant.
Sagging nipples are also common in female dogs that are older because the tissue in the mammary glands change as she ages. Spaying your dog will help with sagging nipples, but it may not return them to the size they were in the beginning when she was young.
If your dog is already spayed and she has sagging nipples, enlarged nipples or they are a different color than normal, you should take your pretty pooch to the vet as it could be teh beginning signs of an infection or disease.