Material girl or Mastitis girl?

At 64 years old, Madonna has cancelled her world tour, which was set to start in July and hit the UK in October.

She was omitted to hospital for a severe bacterial infection and spent several days in intensive care but is now at home and recovering. No details have been disclosed, but it could be anything from pneumonia, meningitis, skin or soft tissue infection to possibly a bloodstream infection.

I've always felt that Madonna has been a body-positive person and proactive in maintaining good condition and health. It shows that even with awareness (and money), vitality is a continual challenge, especially as you age.

Our dogs are no different. A serious infection you should be aware of when breeding your females is Mastitis. It's an inflammatory condition that affects the mammary glands, typically occurring in nursing and lactating dogs.

Serious Canine Infection

Mastitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection that enters the mammary gland through cracks or openings in the nipple or teat. The bacteria commonly associated with Mastitis in dogs include Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Escherichia coli (E. coli).

The infection can occur due to poor hygiene, inadequate cleaning of the nursing area, trauma to the mammary gland (possibly by sharp puppy nails or, when older, also teeth), or a weakened immune system.

The symptoms of canine Mastitis may include:

  • Swollen, firm, or painful mammary glands
  • Redness and warmth in the affected area
  • Discharge from the nipple, which may be bloody, pus-like, or watery
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy or depression
  • Fever

If left untreated, Mastitis can lead to more severe complications, such as abscess formation and septicaemia (bacterial infection in the bloodstream). You must seek veterinary care promptly if you suspect your dog may have Mastitis.

The treatment of Mastitis typically involves a combination of the following:

  • Antibiotic therapy
  • Pain management
  • Warm compresses to promote milk flow and alleviate swelling

Sometimes, the affected gland may need to be drained, and abscesses may require surgical intervention.

Black Mastitis (Gangrene)

In some cases, the teat, and possibly surrounding tissues, appears black or bruised. The milk may be blood-tinged or bloody, which is then considered Gangrenous Mastitis. This form of Mastitis is a severe and potentially life-threatening condition that can affect lactating female dogs.

It is an advanced form of Mastitis characterised by the death (necrosis) of the mammary gland tissue due to severe infection and compromised blood supply. This can result in open sores, ulceration, and tissue breakdown.

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Mastitis Prevention is Vital

Prevention of Mastitis includes:

  • Maintaining proper hygiene during the nursing period
  • Ensuring clean and sanitised bedding and nursing areas
  • Promoting good nutrition and immune health in lactating dogs
  • Promptly addressing any signs of nipple damage or discharge

Why does Weaning impact Mastitis?

It's key to ensure that milk ducts are not blocked, so the milk flow is continual and easy. So the management of puppy feeds is vital to ensure milk does not become engorged and trapped, known as Galactostasis.

This is typically more likely to happen when you start to wean the puppies, as the female's milk production will continue to meet the previous demand despite the needs slowly decreasing. This means puppy weaning should be a slow and methodical process. Star to reduce the female's food intake by approximately 10-20% at least two days before weaning is to start. Continue a regular decrease in food back to her 'pre-pregnancy' intake whilst directly increasing the puppy weaning food intake.

Recent discussions have been about how Choline can reduce the 'stickiness' of milk to help prevent ducts from becoming blocked in the first instance. A female on a good quality, balanced diet should naturally have enough of this. However, if the female's lineage is prone to the condition or you feel the dam would benefit you can supplement her diet. Here are a few choline-rich foods:

  • Eggs are an excellent source of Choline. Both the yolk and the white contain Choline, with the yolk being particularly rich in this nutrient. Lightly cooked eggs can be a nutritious addition to a dog’s diet.
  • Beef liver is a highly concentrated source of Choline. It can be fed to dogs in small quantities as a balanced diet. It's important not to exceed recommended amounts of liver due to its high vitamin A content and likelihood of upsetting tummies.
  • Certain types of fish, such as salmon, cod, and sardines, are good sources of Choline. Feeding dogs cooked, boneless, and skinless fish can provide Choline and other beneficial nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Chicken and turkey are poultry options that contain Choline. Including cooked, boneless, and skinless poultry in a dog's diet can increase their choline intake.
  • Some vegetables from the cruciferous family, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, contain Choline. These vegetables can be lightly cooked or steamed and added to a dog's meal in appropriate portions.

It is worth noting if your girl is already raw fed the above choline-rich foods can all be given raw as an addition to her meals.

When incorporating choline-rich foods into a dog's diet, it's crucial to ensure overall balance and that you meet their nutritional requirements through a well-rounded approach. Adding a significant amount of any ‘addition’ is not recommended.

Consulting with a veterinarian or a canine nutritionist can help develop a suitable diet plan tailored to your dog's needs. If you suspect that your dog may have Mastitis or have concerns about their health, it is recommended to consult with a veterinarian immediately for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

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