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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
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My 2 yr old dachshund started lactating about 2 weeks ago,

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My 2 yr old dachshund started lactating about 2 weeks ago, and it turned out to be a false pregnancy. She's in the nesting stage and has adopted a toy, but I noticed she has only one swollen nipple, and it's been since her lactating stage. It doesn't seem to bother her. Is this something I need to worry about?

Hi Stormi, I'm Dr. Deb. I will do my best to assist you today.

I'm sorry for this concern for Savannah but I do have a few more questions to ask about her first, if you don't mind:

1. Is she still lactating from all of her nipples?
2. Is she still lactating from just this one nipple?
3. If no lactating, have her other nipples resumed a more normal size and it's only the one that seems bigger?
4. Is it red or very hard around the gland?

There may be a slight delay after I receive your answers since I have to type up a response to you. Thanks for your patience. Deb

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, she was lactating from all of her nipples, it last about 3 or 4 days. All of them went down to normal size except for the one. The color appears normal but it does seem a bit hard when I slightly squeeze it.

Thanks so much for the additional information.

It's not unusual for one or more nipples to remain a little larger than the others after lactation so I probably wouldn't be too concerned about it. And, sometimes, nipples regress at different rates so it might get smaller over the next few days to a week.

My concern was that she might be developing mastitis (infection in the gland), The glands are usually very hard, very swollen, usually very red and painful and possibly warm to the touch. It doesn't sound like you're describing anything this serious though.

It sounds like a variation of normal and I would just monitor for the next few days for any changes. More than likely, she'll be fine.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I just checked to see if it was warm, and it is a bit more pink. and I was just worried since just this one nipple has been swollen like this for 2, almost 3 weeks now. She's never had a false pregnancy before, so I'm still learning what to look for.

Dogs can develop mastitis whether they've had a real pregnancy or a false one; however, it's much more commonly seen when pups are nursing.

This LINK has a picture of a dog with mastitis which may help you determine if this is what you're seeing. I doubt that this is Savannah's issue based on your description, though.

Most dogs with false pregnancies will lactate as you've seen; they may nest and carry around toys. Some can even become depressed if there are no pups but most come through the experience with no problems whatsoever. But they may be prone to developing them every heat cycle so if you plan to breed her, I might consider it for her next heat cycle. Otherwise I might consider spaying her so you won't have to worry about a pyometra (an infection which can develop in the uterus).

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

so far, i want to say it's like the first 2 pictures right now. i guess i will just keep an eye on it, and hopefully it will go down. how long will the nesting stage with the adopted toy last? she's a very energetic and playful dog, and now she doesn't play at all, and barely eats. she just stay with her toy.

If she's developing mastitis, then she'll need oral antibiotics for this condition but it won't hurt to monitor for another day or so.
As strange as it may sound, applying raw cabbage leaves to the gland can help draw out toxins and help with mastitis. You'd have to improvise a bandage and put the cabbage leaves around the gland and then make sure it's not too tight. You'd change them once a day.

The nesting phase can last a variable amount of time...anywhere from a few days to up to a month.
I wouldn't expect her to necessarily lose her appetite though. You might want to take her temperature. Normal is between 100 and 102.5. Dogs with mastitis can sometimes have a fever which might explain her other symptoms in addition to the changes in the gland.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

i expected about a month for the nesting stage. i'm just not used to seeing her so quiet and still. she just whines all the time and will sometimes walk around with her 'baby' in her mouth and whine, so i just don't know what to do when she does that. i know to try to make this process as stress-free as possible and i'm trying.

This may sound cruel, but you might want to consider taking her "baby" away from her.
If it's already been a month, then she should be moving beyond this phase. We often start weaning pups from mom around 4 weeks so this is the time that babies would stop nursing as much anyway.
It sounds like this has hit her pretty hard. I would definitely consider having her spayed if she reacts this strongly, especially since she could have false pregnancies after every heat cycle.

It must be heartbreaking to watch her:( Deb
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

well, it hasn't been a month, i just figured it could last as long as month. she adopter her toy about 3 days ago. the only part that's hard for me is not knowing what she wants when she whines.

Sorry if I misunderstood.
This behavior is psychological at this point; I would remove the "baby" so she can't start to obsess over it; her whining should stop soon after.

I'm not certain what the whining is about either or what she's trying to communicate to you but she may be a little confused and not understand why it's not nursing or behaving like a normal puppy would behave.
This will sound awful but it's best to let her think that the puppy is completely gone rather than for her to continue to try and mother it.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

i've thought about doing that. but won't it cause separation anxiety?

No, separation anxiety is a totally different syndrome.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

well, if she does end up having withdrawals when i take it away, what is the best thing to do?


There is a drug called, Galastop that can help with the physical symptoms of false pregnancy that you should be able to get from your vet.
But because this behavior tends to be psychological, I'm not sure if they would be very effective.

I know this may not be want you want to hear, but my advice would be to let her work through it. You want to be supportive but she also needs to be able to get past this sort of thing on her own.
Walking her more, playing with her, doggie day care where she would interact with other dogs (if she likes this sort of thing) can distract her and take her mind off it. Deb

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

she always play with my sister's dog, but she doesn't anymore. i just took her 'baby' away when she wasn't looking. she's not searching for it, she just keeps looking at me and whining. and my sister's dog is trying to play with her but she's ignoring him.

You're probably going to have to give her some time to adjust.

But I would also take her temperature as I previously mentioned to rule out a fever. It's a little unclear to me if more is going on ....mastitis is possible, other infections are possible. I'd want to know that she isn't running a fever.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

ok. thank you for all of your help =) now i'm not at a loss anymore. and my sister is going to help me work with her too while i am at work during the day. again, thank you!

You're welcome; I'm glad that I could help.

I know this is hard for you...and it's hard for her too. But I do think she'll get past this with a little time and patience...and lots of love, of course:)

I hope you'll keep me posted about her. Even after you've rated (if you do, of course), we can still continue to communicate. I can also send you a follow up email in a few days to which you can respond when you have the time to do so.

Take care. Deb
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

yes, i would love a follow up email. =) and i will respond! thank you so much!


I'll chat with you in a few days then. Laughing
Dr. Deb and 5 other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Thanks for the rating; it's greatly appreciated.

I'll look forward to an update. Deb
I'm just following up on our conversation about Savannah. How's she doing? Deb
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

she's doing great! it only took about 3 days for her to forget about her 'baby'! she spent those days at my sister's house so she could have her 2 other dogs to play with and it helped so much!

That's wonderful news; thanks so much for letting me know. Deb
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

you're very welcome! thank you for all of your help! now i'm hoping she's not pregnant for real!

No, that wouldn't be a good thing, if you don't want babies!