Mastitis can be common in bitches that have just whelped. Even so, it can still be a very painful and uncomfortable experience for any dog. But as Paul Boland explains, there are various treatments that can cure this unpleasant condition.
Mastitis is inflammation of mammary glands associated with bacterial infection that can lead to abscess formation and gangrene. The three common bacteria are E. Coli, Streptococcus and Staphylococcus spp and these bacteria can enter the mammary gland via the skin of the gland especially if is broken or via the bloodstream.
Mastitis can occur in the later stages of false pregnancy but it is far more common after whelping in the nursing bitch. The puppies’ nails can damage the mammary glands leading to cuts and abrasions that allow the bacteria to enter then glands.
Therefore, it is important to keep clipping the puppies’ nails, as once a bitch has mastitis she maybe more prone to developing it in subsequent years.
Like many diseases the degree of the severity of the disease varies but typically the affected glands and teats are swollen, hot, inflamed, sore and the milk is discoloured- red if there are lots red bloods cells, thicker and creamy if there are lots of white bloods or pus coloured with severe infection.
The bitch is usually fine in herself but if the infection gets into the bloodstream she can become septic leading to dullness, lethargy, innappetance and she will have a temperature. In these cases she may well require hospitalisation and intravenous antibiotics and intravenous fluid therapy. Occasionally the mammary gland becomes necrotic and gangrene sets in.
Most Vets would anaesthetise the bitch and surgically debride the necrotic tissues, however I have seen fantastic recoveries with natural stem cell enhancers.
Mastitis is usually diagnosed on clinical signs. The milk from the affected glands should be sent off for bacterial culture and sensitivity and cytology. If the bitch is ill then a full blood analysis should be taken to rule out renal disease, liver disease or diabetes. Serum calcium and glucose should be checked in case there is concurrent hypocalcaemia or hypoglycaemia and ultrasound can be done on the glands if abscesses are suspected.
Management of the Bitch and Pups
Obviously the whelping box should be kept clean and tidy. I found that the best bedding material was newspaper.
The gland should be hot packed or soaked in warm water, and milked out twice a day if the puppies are avoiding the mastitic glands. Cooked white cabbage leaves applied to the glands then wrapped with vet wrap for two hours is anecdotally reported to help draw out fluids and infection.
There is no need to remove the pups from the bitch unless she is systemically ill or the gland is necrotic. In fact the suckling pups will help express the infected gland. If the pups are removed from the bitch then they will obviously need to be hand reared.
When I bred Staffordshire Bull terriers I used to feed the weaker pups and when there was a large litter.
Broad spectrum antibiotics such as clavulanate-potentiated amoxicillin “Synulox” can be started before any bacterial culture and sensitivity results come back from the laboratory. If the bacteria are resistant to this antibiotic then it can be changed to one that is sensitive to the bacteria.
Surgical debridement and drainage maybe required if the mammary gland forms an abscess or becomes gangrenous.
Natural remedies for canine mastitis
Propolis may be used to help animals fight viral bacterial and fungal infections, soothe the skin, heal ulcers and help to improve general immune response. Studies undertaken in animals seem to show topically applied propolis helps accelerate epithelial repair.
Propolis also contains an abundance of flavanoids which are thought to be responsible for its antimicrobial effects. If this isn’t enough propolis may also have anti-inflammatory effects and it is thought it may decrease the synthesis of prostaglandins and leukotrienes involved in inflammation.
Propolis is made up of up to 50-70% resins and balsams, 30-50% wax, 5-10% pollen and 10% essential oils. It has over 500 times more bioflavanoids than oranges which are now believed to be an active ingredient in the healing process. Propolis is also packed with amino acids, vitamins and minerals. All these ingredients work together in a holistic way to achieve all of these benefits and in cases of mastitis propolis can be used systemically as a tablet or a liquid and topically as a cream.
Natural stem cell enhancers
Mastitis, like any disease is the result of a collection of dead or damaged cells in a tissue or organ. If you replace the damaged cells then the disease is cured.
Every day cells are dying in the body and until recently scientists did not know the natural repair and renewal system of the body.
There are approximately 50-80 trillion cells in a dog’s body and 60 million of them die each day via a process called apoptosis.
I have been using natural stem cell enhancers in animals for five years and I have seen truly remarkable results, so in summary, I would always use natural stem enhancers in dogs with mastitis to speed up the natural healing process of the body. I have known of cases of necrotic/gangrenous mastitis to heal 100% without surgery.