As dog owners, it is important to give your dog a physical check at home for any abnormalities.
What if you noticed that one of your dog’s nipples looks inverted?
Is this something that you need to be concerned about?
An inverted nipple in dogs can happen to both female and male dogs. This condition occurs more often in pregnant or nursing dogs. An inverted nipple is usually just a cosmetic issue but it can be a health problem in some dogs.
Beyond its intriguing appearance, understanding the underlying reasons and implications of an inverted nipple in dogs can play a crucial role in ensuring your dog’s optimal health.
What Is An Inverted Nipple?
An inverted nipple is basically a nipple that points inwards or lies flushed against your dog’s belly. It is also known as a retracted nipple.
It can happen in one or more nipples and be a darker color compared to the normal one.
Most dog owners don’t notice this issue on their dogs as their dog nipples are mostly covered up by their fur.
Why Does My Dog Have An Inverted Nipple?
Here’s a closer look at the factors that can lead to this unique condition.
Mammary tumors are abnormal growths that occur in the mammary glands of your dog.
Although this issue can happen to male dogs, it is very rare and tends to affect female dogs more often.
Female dogs that are not spayed or spayed after having a few heat cycles are more at risk of having a mammary tumor.
These growths can be either benign or malignant in nature.
- A lump or growth
- Inverted nipple
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
If you do suspect that your has a mammary tumor, you should take it to the vet asap for an examination.
The vet will carry out the necessary lab test and scans to diagnose the cause of the lump.
If it’s cancer, the best treatments are usually surgery to remove the growth or chemotherapy for your dog.
A study has found that 10%-20% of the human population has this issue from birth or acquired it as they got older.
Although we do not have the exact number for dogs, they too can have it as puppies.
This can be caused by a harmless birth defect or a trait inherited from their parents.
Inverted dog nipples can also be the result of traumatic events.
Physical injuries to a dog’s nipple from accidents, rough play or a fight can cause it to retract or invert.
Surgeries in the mammary region can inadvertently lead to inverted dog nipples, particularly if not executed with care.
Chemical or thermal burns to this area can also cause the skin to contract as it heals, resulting in nipple inversion.
Nursing Or Pregnant Dogs
Female dogs are more prone to having inverted nipples during their pregnancies or when they are nursing their puppies.
This is due to the hormonal and physical changes that their bodies are undergoing.
Puppies are very hungry dogs and can be very aggressive in trying to get milk from their mothers.
This can cause trauma to the nipple, potentially damaging it or causing inversion
Are Inverted Nipples In Dogs A Health Problem?
For most dogs, having an inverted nipple is just a cosmetic issue and won’t pose any health risk to them.
However, there are a few scenarios whereby inverted nipples can be a bit of a problem for your dog.
Mastitis in dogs is a condition whereby the inverted nipple gets infected.
Not all inverted nipples will get infected but there is a higher risk due to how the nipple is positioned.
This is more common in nursing dogs where the mammary glands get infected. But male or non-nursing female dogs can also get affected by this condition.
A dog’s inverted nipple infection is usually caused by a bacterial infection or pathogens.
Dogs that are experiencing mastitis will have some pain and discomfort. Here are some common symptoms:
- Redness and swelling
- Crusty looking nipple
- Weight loss
- Refusing to nurse the puppies
The biggest tell-tale sign would be a swollen crusty-looking nipple.
It would be best to get your dog to the vet to have the infection taken care of.
The vet will have to clean the infected nipple properly and antibiotics might be required to clear up the infection.
More importantly, severe cases of mastitis can be fatal in dogs.
The untreated bacterial infection can start to turn septic and affect the other major organs of the dog.
Inverted Nipple On Nursing Dogs
Intact female dogs that are nursing their puppies have a full-time job of making sure that their pups are well fed.
If she has an inverted nipple or nipples this can pose a problem because it is much harder for the puppies to suckle on an inverted nipple.
Imagine if your female dog has a litter of 6 puppies and 2 out of her 6 nipples are inverted. This means that only 4 puppies can feed at one time.
Puppies require constant feeding and if they don’t get enough nutrients, it can dampen their growth and cause other health problems.
This situation can be made worse if some of the stronger pups are ‘nipple guarding’ the best milk-producing nipples.
It is important to work closely with your vet during this period to resolve any nursing problems quickly to ensure both mother dog and her puppies are safe.
There are a few things that dog owners can do to ensure that all the puppies are well nursed.
Weigh The Puppies Daily
Make it a point to weigh each puppy daily and record the results. This will allow you to know which puppies are underweight and need more feeding time.
Charting their weight gain progress makes it easy to also identify puppies that have been hoarding mommy dog’s nipples.
Rotate The Puppies
When the puppies are suckling on the nipples, keep a close watch for ‘nipple guarding’ behavior.
These puppies will display defensive body language or aggressive behavior like growling when another pup tried to take over the nipple.
Remove these pups once they have been nursed and place the less dominant pups at the nipple to allow them to feed.
Try To Invert The Nipples
It might be possible to try and expose the inverted nipple by gently pulling at it or compressing the area around it.
Try placing a bigger and stronger pup at the inverted nipple as it might be able to suck hard enough for it to pop out.
Hand-Feed The Heavier Puppies
One way to manage the puppies is to try and hand feed the larger and heavier pups.
It is definitely not a good idea to not feed them as they still require their daily nourishment.
Hand-feeding the heavier puppies frees up the normal nipples for the weaker or smaller puppies to feed on.
This method works well if the female dog isn’t producing enough milk for the entire litter.
Don’t just feed your puppy any type of milk. Speak to your vet first and get the correct milk formula.
How To Clean An Inverted Nipple In My Dog?
The best way to prevent any sort of infection from happening to the inverted nipples is to keep them clean.
And to keep it clean, you will have to clean it regularly.
If your dog never had an issue with its inverted nipples before, it is still good practice to do a visual check once a week to make sure that there isn’t any swelling or discharge.
However, if you know that your dog is prone to mastitis, you should make it a point to clean the inverted nipples.
Cleaning your dog’s inverted nipples properly isn’t difficult.
The easiest way to clean inverted nipples is to wipe them clean with a damp cloth or wet wipes.
When using wet wipes, make sure to use wet wipes that are pet friendly.
Do not use wipes that have any fragrance or alcohol in them as those compounds can irritate your dog’s skin.
And your dog’s nipples and the surrounding skin are very sensitive.
Expose the inverted nipple by pressing down on the sides and cleaning off whatever dirt or grime is stuck there.
After that, be sure to use a dry cloth and dry the area completely. Residual moisture is conducive to bacterial growth.
Your vet might also give your a cleaning solution to use if your dog’s nipples get easily infected.
Some dog owners have reported the presence of large blackheads growing on the inverted nipple.
I would strongly recommend that you bring your dog to the vet to have it extracted than do it yourself.
Squeezing the blackhead too hard can cause pain and discomfort to your dog.
Furthermore, the nipple is at a higher risk of getting infected if the blackhead isn’t extracted properly.
You can get the vet to show you how to properly remove the blackheads if it resurfaces in your dog.
Should I Fix My Dog’s Inverted Nipple?
Discovering that your dog has a case of inverted nipples might raise some concerns for many dog owners but it is usually more of a cosmetic issue than a health concern.
There isn’t any need to fix or treat inverted nipples if they are not infected.
Nipples in dogs are only there to serve one function, which is to produce milk and provide nourishment for hungry puppies.
There isn’t any need to fix or treat inverted nipples in dogs unless it becomes a health concern.
If your dog is prone to mastitis or if the inverted nipple tends to collect a lot of gunk and dirt, make it a point to clean it out regularly to prevent a form of bacterial infection.
Remember that mastitis in dogs can be fatal if severe cases so it isn’t something that you want to sit on if your dog is suffering from this condition.
Otherwise, just treat your dog’s inverted nipple as part and parcel of your dog’s quirkiness.
Why Does My Dog Have An Odd Number Of Nipples?
Most dogs typically have an even number of nipples, between 6 to 12. However, an odd number isn’t indicative of a health issue. Vets might estimate litter size based on the number of nipples in pregnant dogs.
Can Inverted Nipples By Temporary?
Inverted nipples can be temporary if they are caused by swelling, inflammation or trauma. They may revert to their normal position once the underlying caused is resolved.
Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?
Males dogs do have nipples just like male humans but they don’t serve much purpose unlike in females.