If you’ve never really paid much attention to your dog’s nipples before, you may be shocked to discover one day that your pup has one or more dark, recessed “holes” where normal nipples should be. This discovery shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. Inverted dog nipples aren’t that uncommon or harmful in a dog, unless the nipple suffers injury or becomes inflamed due to an infection.
Nipple infections can be quite painful and require immediate attention from your vet. Other symptoms of a nipple infection are redness, swelling in the nipple area, discharge or bleeding. You’ll also notice your pup behaving strangely, showing symptoms of lethargy, no interest in eating, unusual bowel movements or even vomiting.
Nipple infections in nursing female dogs can escalate into mastitis, inflammation of mammary glands that can clog their milk ducts and lead to engorgement. Bacteria enter the teat canal and infect the mammary glands, causing your pup pain and suffering. Although this condition is more common in nursing female dogs, it can occur in fixed dogs as well when they undergo symptoms of false pregnancy. It’s important to notify your vet right away if you suspect your pooch has a nipple infection or any other painful nipple issues.
What Causes Inverted Nipples In Dogs?
As strange as it may seem, inverted nipples is a condition that occurs naturally in male and female puppies as they transition into their adult years. This condition generally isn’t a problem and doesn’t affect dogs in any way, unless, of course, the nipples become infected or injured. If your dog’s nipples are normally hidden by fur, you may never notice this condition at all. After all, how many people actually go around checking on their pet’s nipples?
Not all puppies develop inverted nipples as they age, but many do as they mature into adult dogs. In addition to becoming inverted, the nipple may turn dark, but it still won’t pose a risk to your pet’s health. It’s a normal, painless anomaly that may occur in a dog’s life cycle as it transitions from puppyhood into an adult dog. If your adult dog suddenly develops inverted or transposed nipples where none were visible before, you’d do well to mention it to your vet as it could be a sign of a health issue.
Inverted nipples in a nursing female dog will affect her babies ability to nurse, especially if she had a large litter, as it limits the number of teats they can use to drink milk from. You’ll need to see that mommy dog lies on the side where most of the protruded nipples are exposed and that the puppies take turns nursing so none go hungry. If a puppy sucks hard enough on an inverted nipple, it may pop out for nursing, and then transpose again afterwards.
How To Fix A Dog’s Inverted Nipple!
There’s really no need to “fix” your dog’s inverted nipples if they’re not causing your pup problems or pain. Sometimes stretching the skin will cause the nipple to pop out, but that’s usually temporary. What you should do is check the area regularly to make sure the nipples aren’t hurt or swollen. You’ll also need to keep the area clean to reduce the risk of infections. It’s unlikely your pooch can do that on its own, so you’ll need to add that to your dog’s cleanliness regimen.
An inverted nipple can gather dirt or sebum (an oily secretion from skin glands) inside the hole which can breed bacteria if not kept clean. It doesn’t require daily cleaning, but it wouldn’t hurt to clean it out weekly or at least, several times a month. If your pup suffers from allergies, the accumulation of dust or dirt in its nipple could trigger an allergic reaction in the form of skin rash, irritation or other skin issues. Over time, sunken nipples could develop a crusty buildup around the hole or start to smell.
You can clean your pup’s transposed nipples with baby wipes or a clean, damp cloth. Make sure you wipe off any dust or dirt that may have gathered in or around the hole as well as all crusty buildup. Cleaning the area should get rid of any foul odors coming from the nipple as well. If the area is red or swollen, schedule a video call with your veterinarian to determine if there’s a problem that requires veterinary treatment.
Should You Try To Treat An Inverted Nipple In A Dog Yourself Or Get A Vet?
If your pet shows signs of a nipple infection – redness, inflammation, pain, discharge – notify your vet right away. The accumulation of dirt, debris or sebum in or around your dog’s nipples can trigger a nipple infection that needs prompt treatment. Nipple injuries or bacteria in the teat canal can trigger a mammary gland infection (mastitis) in your female dog shortly after giving birth. This condition also requires veterinary treatment.
Mastitis can be quite painful for your pooch, causing all kinds of complications in nursing. The glands can become clogged, causing your dog to become engorged. If not treated right away, the infection can spread throughout your dog’s system and damage internal organs. Fever, loss of appetite, listlessness and vomiting are common signs of mastitis which should be reported immediately to your vet. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to a speedy recovery.
Antibiotics is generally the treatment for mastitis in dogs since the medication passing through the milk won’t affect the health of the puppies. You can also take measures at home to help soothe your female dog’s condition. The application of cold, raw cabbage leaves to the nipple area can help relieve pain and swelling to make your dog more comfortable during recovery. Secure the leaves to your dog’s infected teats with a bandage or fitted T-shirt and leave them there for several hours. The leaves will absorb milk from the clogged mammary glands to relieve painful engorgement symptoms.
Inverted dog nipples are a natural part of a puppy transitioning into adulthood, although it doesn’t occur in all dogs. For the most part, this condition is painless and poses no risk to your pet. Inverted nipples will need to be kept clean to avoid nipple infections, especially in female dogs as it could lead to mastitis. If your dog’s nipples show signs of redness, inflammation or pain, notify your vet right away for a diagnosis. Early diagnosis and treatment is key to a speedy recovery of problems with your pet’s nipples.