Toxic Milk Syndrome In Dogs: What Is It And How to Treat It

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toxic milk syndrome in dogs
Group of newborn white labrador puppies sucking milk from bitch.

Your dog’s health is the most important things to consider when caring for them, especially when they’re mothers! Pregnant female dogs are sensitive to different sicknesses, including toxic milk syndrome in dogs that can affect their litter. But what exactly is this toxic milk syndrome, as you rarely see this talked about online?

Even I was a bit worried about this type of sickness in breastfeeding dogs, so I delved into my research for it. If you want to learn more about the toxic milk syndrome, its causes and ways to prevent it, read on! I’ll show you everything you need to know about this syndrome.

What Is Toxic Milk Syndrome In Dogs?

This syndrome is defined by having toxic milk, which causes bacterial poisoning or infections to feeding puppies. Because puppies have extremely sensitive stomachs, they are more exposed to food-borne diseases. This is due to the incapability of neutralizing any toxins or microorganisms from the lack of gastric acid at their young age.

If their mother has toxic milk which is filled with bacteria, then it can affect her litter’s health, even their lives. There are various causes and reasons why toxic milk syndrome happens, which focuses on the mom’s overall milk quality. But the question is: why’s the mom dog’s milk filled with toxins or bacteria in the first place?

Toxic milk syndrome can come from the following (on the mom’s side):

  • Any ascending or hematogenous infections of the teats or milk
  • Clinical or subclinical mastitis. While the milk doesn’t play roles in transmitting the illness, it can still be found around the mom’s vaginal flora
  • Sometimes the syndrome doesn’t come from bacteria or mastitis, but the presence of toxins that enter the milk from the dog’s blood. This can be connected with postpartum mastitis, which requires examination and treatment

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The symptoms of toxic milk syndrome differ between both the mom and litter. Here are the following clinical signs to watch out for:

  • One or more painful teats (for the mother)
  • The anatomical anomaly of teat canals (from recurrent mastitis)
  • Any vaginal bacteria such as metritis, vaginitis, vulvar discharge, and/or polyuria-polydipsia
  • A purplish or cauliflower anus found in one or more of the litter
  • The litter whines continuously
  • Diarrhea, dehydration, or even death of one or more of the puppies

Diagnosis can be a bit difficult in terms of detecting diarrhea in puppies, especially since mothers lick the perineal region. But you can detect it if you see any straw yellow feces with a sour odor. Sometimes, it’s also green-colored diarrhea which shows protein maldigestion.

You can also check for toxic milk in the mother through vaginal smears to detect vaginitis or mastitis. While bacteriological tests can be helpful, they’re deceptive. This is because you need to collect the milk samples through teat punctures and in a sterile environment. Furthermore, some sterile samples have bacterial toxins which are undetectable yet dangerous, and it takes time to wait for the results before treatment begins.

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Treatment and Prevention

Fortunately, there are ways on how you can treat the toxic milk syndrome in dogs. Here are the things you can do for your mom dog:

  • Reduce the suckling time just in case of diarrhea from overconsumption (separate the mom and the litter every three hours)
  • Dry off of the mother and feed the puppies artificially instead
  • Treat the mother with antibiotics recommended by the veterinarian for better mammary diffusion
  • As for the puppies, they may require antibiotics, especially if they have been drinking the toxic milk

Besides this, it’s best to prevent toxic milk syndrome from happening at all, using these tips:

  • Always bring your pregnant dog to the veterinarian and monitor her overall health. Once the litter’s born, have them checked to ensure good health and continue to monitor any changes. Continue to check the mom for issues.
  • Make sure you’ve culled breeding female dogs who suffer from recurrent mastitis
  • Give any antibiotics, vaccines, and deworm your pregnant dog before her delivery date to prevent any bacterial infections and mastitis
  • If possible, blunt out the puppies’ nails in case of any mammary gland trauma caused by scratches

Learn more about lactating bitches and how to keep them (and their milk) healthy with this informative video:

Wrapping It Up

Besides the usual checkups, a good diet, and any vitamins needed, your pregnant dog needs to stay in optimal health from other sicknesses. While toxic milk syndrome isn’t as well-known as other illnesses, you need to know when to detect it for prompt treatment. That way, both your mother dog and litter will stay healthy for years to come.

Hopefully, this article on the toxic milk syndrome in dogs helped you out! So begin caring for your pregnant dog throughout the pregnancy down to their delivery now.

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