Breeding, Newborn Care Tips, Nutrition, Puppy and Kitten Care

Toxic Milk Syndrome in Dogs

Can puppies get sick from mother’s milk? The answer is yes.

Toxic milk syndrome in dogs is caused by a variety of conditions such as a nutritional issue, uterine infection, and the number one cause, mammary infection. No matter what the cause, mom needs to be treated as soon as possible to keep her in milk and her puppies healthy.

How Do I Know If My Dog’s Milk is Toxic?

Puppies don’t nurse well if the milk is off-taste. Some get sick but most will just cry a lot, dehydrate and die. This issue seems to affect large breeds more than small, but any breed can get “toxic milk.” The first two weeks puppies should only eat and sleep. Anytime you see discontented puppies, check mom for infection issues.

How Do You Know If Your Dog’s Milk is Bad?

You can check for mammary gland issues by rubbing the glands to make sure they are soft and pain-free. Rubbing glands will also get her to let milk down. Express milk from nipple and see if it is normal “milk” looking. Clear, blood tinged, or chunks are abnormal and need to be treated.

How to Treat a Dog With Toxic Milk Syndrome

If your dog has toxic milk syndrome get her on an antibiotic as soon as possible. Since E.coli is the common cause, veterinarians have typically recommended giving Sulfa-Trimeth once a day. Sulfa-Trimeth is easy to use and usually clears the issue.

Caring for Newborns

Supplement her puppies as they are not eating enough.

How to Prevent Toxic Milk Syndrome

When it comes to how to prevent toxic milk syndrome in dogs, giving mom the nutrition she needs goes a long way to avoid many health issues. You can ensure mom’s health by giving a complete daily prenatal vitamin such as Breeder’s Edge® Oxy Mate. Then, seven days before birth through lactation, give mom Breeder’s Edge® Oxy Momma to support milk production. Healthy moms have healthy babies. But when issues occur, treat mom as soon as possible and keep babies warm and nourished while mom recovers.

Bathing mom prior to whelping can reduce the risk of mastitis by removing bacteria from her skin that could enter the gland through the nipple, causing infection. Between baths, Breeder’s Edge NurseMaid wipes can keep her glands clean and are safe for the pups to nurse following cleansing. Probiotics like Doc Roy’s GI Synbiotics have also been suggested to reduce the risk of mastitis development.

If you have more questions on toxic milk syndrome in puppies, call us at 800.786.4751.

Article originally written by Donald Bramlage, DVM, Revival’s Former Director of Veterinary Services. This article has been updated/reviewed by Dr. Greer.

Written by: Marty Greer, DVM

Director of Veterinary Services

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.