Most pet owners don't think much about the chances of mammary gland problems in their dogs, but these disorders can be a real problem. Mammary gland disorders are not just uncomfortable, but are also potentially life threatening. Knowing the signs of a problem can help you get your dog to the vet quickly and ensure a longer, happier life for your pet.
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Canine mammary disorders come in several types, including tumours, inflammation of the glands, accumulation of milk in the gland, failure to produce milk, excessive milk production, eclampsia or convulsions from excessive lactation, and mammary cysts. All types of mammary gland disorder are most common in adult female dogs which have not been spayed.
The symptoms of mammary problems vary according to the disorder, but there are a few signs that mean you need to visit the vet. Swelling, redness, or sore areas around your dog's nipples, discharge from the nipples, or failure to produce milk for a litter are all signs of a problem. While some symptoms may seem mild at first, they can progress to become life threatening.
Female dogs which will not be used for breeding ought to be spayed early on in life. Spaying reduces the amount of oestrogen and other female hormones in the body, and almost completely removes the risk of mammary disorders. Breeding dogs should be monitored for mammary disorders, especially if they have not yet had a litter. Spaying can also treat some of these disorders once they are present.
Some people believe that dogs which have not had a litter are more subject to mammary problems than dogs which have had puppies. This is true of dogs with intact reproductive systems, but doesn't apply if the dog is later spayed. Don't put off spaying your dog unless you're a professional breeder. Early spaying contributes to your dog's overall health and quality of life.
Dogs intended for breeding can't be spayed to prevent mammary problems, but you should make this decision carefully. Not all pets should reproduce. Unless you're a professional with a strong background, and you have the money to provide veterinary care when a pregnancy goes wrong, you should avoid breeding. Think carefully before you make the choice not to spay your pet.
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