Asked in Domestic DogsDog HealthDog Breeding and Mating
Do a dog's nipples get swollen during heat?
June 05, 2011 7:47PM
The nipples on a female who has not yet had her first heat are quite small, but they swell with the first heat and never return to 'puppy size'.
If the bitch has been bred and is pregnant, then about 35 days after the mating the nipples will turn a deep pink colour and will begin to enlarge. The mammary glands produce the milk to feed the puppies and amazingly enough they manage to manufacture the right supply to meet the demand.
Bitches who are extremely maternal have been known to produce milk for a starving pup or another animal baby even though they are not pregnant or nursing their own litter.
The mammary glands are prone to cancerous tumors because of the estrogen produced. Once the bitch has been "spayed", (fixed or altered) the source of the estrogen has been removed and the chance of breast cancer developing is greatly reduced. However, spaying (and neutering of male dogs) can carry risks of side effects, including increased chances of other cancers such as osteosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma, both of which have limited treatment options and a very poor prognosis, and arthritis especially if done before an animal reaches maturity, so the decision whether or not to spay or neuter, and if so when, should be a careful one. Please note that both "sides" carry risks, but these risks are very small and are relatively rare. For more information on the possible health risks and benefits of spaying and neutering, search online for "long term health effects of spaying and neutering" and "Early Spay-Neuter Considerations." The first link that comes up with each of those searches will take you to pages that are very informative.