Treating Deja for mastitis… First time for everything!

What a day (and night)! It started off great celebrating the puppies First Week Birthday. Posted photos, answered emails, spent time with the other critters… And then I’m watching Deja who is in with her puppies but not letting them nurse? I sit with Deja and examine her belly… Is her C-section incision bothering her? Instead, I noticed a lump in one of her nipples. A definite hard nodule that concerned me. In addition, she had a hardened area on her belly?

This is when less experienced breeders run into problems. They may not recognize something is wrong? Now I’ve never had a girl have problems with mastitis nor did Deja have this problem with her first litter but… Something was wrong!

I did a quick google search; funny how that is now easier than looking up a chapter in any book. And I put myself “out there” asking a question in a “group”. LOTS of immediate responses! I knew about cabbage wraps but wasn’t sure how they were applied; question asked and answered! Texted hubby to pick up cabbage on his way home from work.

Cabbage is frozen then applied along her mammary chain as a cold compress

Meanwhile, I had already started the standard things one can do… warm compresses to the hardened area and massage. I put one of the puppies on the effected nipple to drain it. Of course, this made it difficult to manually express it myself to really examine what the ducts were producing! And then I get a response from a gal who commented on one of the photos that she would love to “puppy sit”. Her intentions were to “help” and to spend time with the puppies but I was thinking, she wouldn’t notice nor know what to do for this problem. That would make me more nervous than anything!


And then “worse case scenario” photos posted to “help me”? OMGosh… Now I am beginning to panic! What if this is that scenario?! Privately, I’m being messaged what helped someone else in this situation. Sound advice!

Hubby gets home with the cabbage and we do the sequence of cold compresses, warm compresses, massage, and puppies nursing. And… hubby calls the vet to get Deja in NOW!

We load up Deja and pups to go to the vet. Deja is such a good girl; she complies with what we ask her to do. The puppies are now almost too big for the warming box I use to bring home puppies; their little heads are pushing up trying to get to “mom” next to them in her crate. Their eyes and ears are not yet open but they can smell her. And they are crying for her too! Deja sees her pups and knows that they are safe next to her so is not worried.

Deja’s temp was normal until I started the massage. I am sure I caused some inflammation that pushed some of the bacteria into her blood stream that now caused the rise in temperature. Of course we’ve been taking Deja’s temp regularly since puppies arrived.

Deja is examined by the vet tech and vet upon our arrival. Antibiotics prescribed along with what I was currently doing. NOT DOING the compresses/massage would have made this situation worse. And I’m reassured this is NOT the “worse case scenario”! Although we brought with us a sample of the gunk from one of the ducts, a new sample is obtained to send in for a culture. We won’t have the results back for a few weeks and I’m thinking… Hopefully by the time we get the results back, this will be a distant bad memory?

In addition to the cold cabbage/warm compresses/massage/nursing cycle and the antibiotics, Deja is now on a probiotic that will also pass to the puppies through her milk. Although Deja’s antibiotic is safe for the puppies, it could give them diarrhea killing off the “good” flora in their guts. I had already ordered probiotics for the pups in a gel form to wipe on their tongues. At this age, they may have difficulty swallowing so care will be needed to not let them aspirate the gel probiotic. But the last thing I want to happen is for the puppies to start having diarrhea!

I also ordered Lecithin (from sunflowers) that is supposed to help with mastitis and the ducts. My vet had not heard of this but hearing this from the collective wisdom of my group, it will be started. While at the vet, I asked for a light-laser treatment. This promotes healing and is cumulative. I will likely take Deja in to the vet again soon for another laser treatment. I want that hardened mass to soften and disappear as soon as possible!

Tag-teaming with hubby, Deja’s “treatements” were done every two hours throughout the night by hubby. The hardened area is already beginning to soften. Deja is feeling better herself and ate this morning (which also included her probiotic). And being the good mommy that she is, she is back to nursing her babies. Now ALL of the puppies have a good nursing reflex but we put one of the bigger boys on the effected nipple to help drain it. We need to clear that duct(s) and get that nipple working again! And her temp is back down to “normal”.

I’ll continue the compresses/massage today and was thinking… This is why puppies are in THE MOST accessible area in our house! Puppies are not raised in a basement, garage, or barn/out building! I don’t know how people do that and are able to monitor/watch mom and pups? Had we waited or not noticed the problem until it was more severe, the outcome could have been much worse. I still can’t get the “worse case scenario” photos out of my head! Scary, scary thing to happen! Fortunately, Deja is already improved and hopefully will continue to improve. And this is now just another experience I’ve had “raising puppies”. It is definitely a labor of love!


P.S. Puppies are now getting up on all 4’s! Since their eyes are not open, they can’t really see where they are going so… they look like little drunk potatoes! LOL!