How to Dry up a Dog's Milk
Most bitches slowly wean as the puppies move to solid food, and the glands respond to the back pressure by producing less milk. Taking the bitch away is not an issue – she dries up and the glands suck up against the body again. However, in heavy milkers, it can sometimes be difficult for the glands to dry up.
Glands that won’t stop producing become painful and if we are not careful, mastitis sets in.
In severe cases, prescription drug therapy (Cabergoline 1.5-5.0 µg/kg/day divided BID) may be indicated to reduce lactation. Cabergoline will block prolactin in order to stop milk production.
A topical mustard plaster can also be successful. Mustard plaster is an old remedy used in humans, and it works well for dogs too.
- Mustard Plaster:
- 1 Tbsp. flour
- 2 tsp. oil
- 1 Tbsp. dry mustard
Cover the area with a thin coat of Vaseline jelly before applying the mustard plaster. Mix the ingredients with lukewarm water to form a paste. Spread on a thin clean cloth and cover the mammary glands. Place on the gland area for 20 minutes, or a shorter time if needed. Be careful not to burn the skin – check the application every 5 minutes. Remove the plaster and cover the area with camphorated oil or tincture of camphor. Then cover with warm fabric such as flannel or a towel. Repeat in 4 hours.
At the same time you're using the mustard plaster, take the bitch off food and limit her water for the first 24 hours. Then give her ½ the amount of her regular food for the next 2 days before returning to a full diet. You may need to milk her out by hand, but only when it's needed to prevent infection from setting in. It's also wise to put them on an antibiotic, such as sulfamethoxazole trimethoprim, to prevent mastitis during this process. Three treatments should dry them up, but I have gone as many as five since it is soothing to the bitch.
If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.
Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical