Why Is My Male Dog’s Nipple Swollen? (How to Handle the Issue)

by Stuart | Last Updated:   March 25, 2019
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Being the pet parent of a male dog comes with a lot of fun and unique experiences. When it comes to your male dog’s health a swollen nipple is probably last on your list of concerns. It’s easy to forget that male dogs even have nipples! 

So, you may be wondering, why are my male dog’s nipples swollen? It could be simple irritation from playing, it could be abdominal pain or anemia from diet changes. It could also be a more serious cause like cancer or Mastitis, which results in an infection and swelling of the breast and can lead to discoloration, inflammation and bruising.

This post looks at the possible causes of swollen, enlarged and or inflamed nipples in male dogs in close detail and offers some helpful preventative tips.

Try not to panic if you notice that your male dog’s nipple is swollen. Check out the surrounding area and take note of any other marks or growths you find. Call your veterinarian, explain the issue, and ask for advice about the next steps you should take.

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Why Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?

While you’re asking yourself ‘why is my male dog’s nipple swollen?’ you’ll end up on the path to questioning the whole reason behind a male dog’s nipples.

Dogs are like humans in that the male nipples don’t really serve a purpose.

When dogs are still embryos, they spend their first few weeks of gender-neutral. That is, both male and female dogs develop the same way in the beginning. This includes nipples.

At a certain point in development, male genitalia switches on but by that point your dog already has nipples.

If this is new information, you may be surprised to learn that even male dogs can have more than 10 nipples, depending on their breed and size.

Nipples typically develop along the abdomen from the chest to the groin. Don’t be alarmed if you feel a nipple near your dog’s leg, their placement can stray during development!

What Does it Mean When a Male Dog’s Nipples are Swollen

Swollen, inflamed and or enlarged nipples in male dogs could mean several different things. It’s important to consider all of them and to always confirm any suspicions with your veterinarian. Here are some of the most common causes of swollen nipples:

Irritation

Swollen and inflamed nipples in male dogs could mean their nipples are or have been irritated. Before you start worrying about whether or not your dog is suffering from a serious condition, you may want to think about what they’ve been doing recently.

If they have been playing on any new textured surfaces or with different playmates, there is a chance that they simply rubbed their nipple the wrong way.

Abdominal Pain

Swollen nipples in male dogs could mean they are suffering from abdominal pain. Pay attention to your dog’s behaviour. Do they seem to be feeling well? Are they eating as much as usual?

Another cause of swollen nipples in male dogs is abdominal pain. If you’re not sure if your dog is in pain, you can try gently applying a bit of pressure to their abdomen to gauge their reaction.

Anemia 

Swollen nipples in male dogs could mean anemia. Think about whether your dog’s diet has changed recently. This could be a factor involved in anemia.

A quick and easy way to check for anemia is to notice any change in the colour of your dog’s gums. Normal, healthy gums in dogs will be a healthy pink whereas dogs with anemia have a pale pink or even whitish gums.

Amenia is not a disease, but a condition that reduces the number of red blood cells circulating in your dog’s bloodstream. In a nutshell, anemia interferes with the normal process of oxygen intake and carbon dioxide removal.

Symmetrical Hair Loss

If your dog starts to experience loss, the areas of skin that are newly exposed can become more sensitive. This can also be a cause of swollen nipples.

These possible causes are often observed in male dogs. If you notice swollen nipples on your male dog and suspect one of these causes, call your veterinarian to discuss the appropriate next steps.

Serious Causes of Swollen Nipples in Male Dogs

While it is not something any pet parent wants to think about, there are a few serious health issues that cause swollen nipples.

These are the conditions you need to be aware of:

Testicular Cancer

Swollen nipples on male dogs can sometimes be a sign of testicular cancer. Any dog, whether or not they are neutered can develop this type of cancer.

If you notice that your male dog has swollen nipples, you should definitely get them checked out by a veterinarian.

The good news is that testicular cancer does not usually spread to other areas of the dog’s body. So don’t panic.

Mastitis

This condition occurs more commonly in female dogs, but male dogs can experience it as well. It is an infection of the mammary glands.

There are two types of mastitis called Acute Septic Mastitis and Galactostasis. If your male dog’s nipple is swollen, check for some of these other symptoms of Mastitis:

    • Lethargy
    • Weight loss
    • Restlessness
    • Crying
    • Dehydration
    • Nipple Area is Lumpy
    • Area is warm to the touch
    • Touching the area causes pain

Mammary Tumors

While these tumours are rare in male dogs, you can never be too safe. Mammary tumours occur when there is a growth near the nipples.

Mammary tumours can differ in their size and location. When you notice that your male dog’s nipple is swollen, take some time to examine closer.

Look and feel around the area for any sign of new growth. If you notice any bleeding near your dog’s swollen nipple, they could be dealing with advanced cancer and an immediate trip to the veterinarian is necessary.

What to Do About Swollen Nipples in Male Dogs

The first and most important step to take when you notice that your male dog has a swollen, enlarged or inflamed nipple(s) is to speak with your vet.

They may ask you to perform some simple tests on your own or to come into the office. You want to check for any serious conditions and make sure that your dog’s health is the priority.

It is best to seek advice from your vet as to how to try to soothe your dog while his nipples are swollen.

Your vet may suggest a course of antibiotics if they believe the infection is involved. Another possible remedy involves applying warm compresses to your dog’s swollen nipples.

When you notice that your dog’s nipple is swollen, do what you can to make sure that their environment is comfortable and that any beds or areas he typically spends time in are padded, so the nipple won’t be irritated further.

Prevention Tips for Swollen Nipples in Male Dogs

Hopefully, your dog will simply have an irritated nipple. Going forward, it’s vital that you add your dog’s nipples into your regular health checks.

Examine your dog’s nipples on a daily basis and look for any new scratches or growths. Get to know the shape and colour of your dog’s nipples.

That way you will notice when any changes take place.

Treatment for Swollen Nipples in Male Dogs

You should always seek treatment advice for your doggie from a veterinarian.

The video below demonstrates how to apply a hot compress to a dog. This treatment is sometimes recommended for male dogs dealing with mastitis.

The idea is to reduce swelling and promote faster healing by increasing the blood flow to the area.

Final Thoughts

While it may be the last thing you expect, male dogs can experience swollen nipples.

Try not to panic if you notice that your male dog’s nipple is swollen. Check out the surrounding area and take note of any other marks or growths you find.

Call your veterinarian, explain the issue, and ask for advice about the next steps you should take.

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