Toxic Milk Syndrome In Dogs: How To Stop It Before It’s Too Late!

You’ve done it! Your litter of puppies is on the ground and you are excitedly watching them grow. However, something seems off with both mom and puppies and you might be wondering what. Toxic milk syndrome is a condition that can affect both mom and puppies. It hits quickly and can be devastating if not caught and treated just as fast.

In this article, we will go over what it is, how it is treated and the signs you should look out for.

What is Toxic Milk Syndrome

Toxic Milk Syndrome is a condition that affects puppies from birth up to about 2 weeks of age. It is when the milk they are getting from mom is filled with bacteria or infections.

While it may not affect older puppies, up until 2 weeks of age, puppies are more susceptible to the symptoms of food-bourne diseases. Their body is unable to neutralize any toxins in the milk and they become sick from it.

Even if mom seems perfectly healthy, toxic milk syndrome can occur and you can often see symptoms in the puppies before you notice a problem with mom.

Causes of Toxic Milk Syndrome

Toxic milk syndrome is caused by milk full of bacteria passing from mom to puppies.

With toxic milk syndrome, the cause is simply that the milk has become toxic due to bacteria in it and the puppies are drinking it. This means that something in the dam’s system is passing from her to the puppies. There can be several different conditions that can lead to her milk becoming toxic. Some causes are:

  • Mastitis: When the infection of mastitis spreads, the bacteria can pass to the puppies and lead to toxic milk syndrome.
  • Vaginal Bacteria: This includes bacterial infections such as metritis, vaginitis, and polyuria-polydipsia.
  • Hematogenous Infections: These can be found in the teats or in the milk alone.
  • Uterine Infections: Any type of uterine infections, including if placenta or other birth matter was left in the uterus.

Although puppies suffer from the toxic milk syndrome, it comes from an infection in the mom.

Signs of Toxic Milk Syndrome

Incessant crying is a common sign of toxic milk syndrome.

When it comes to symptoms, you can usually see it quite easily in your puppies. However, it is also easy to mistake the symptoms with other conditions. Signs of toxic milk syndrome are:

In Puppies:

  • Listlessness
  • Drooling
  • Distended and bloated abdomen
  • Purplish anus that has a cauliflower look to it
  • Diarrhea with a high acidic quality
  • Crying incessantly
  • Dehydration
  • Death
  • Stool that is either dark green (protein maldigestion) or yellow with a sour odor

In Mom:

  • Blood in Milk
  • Thick Milk
  • Any unusual smelling or looking milk
  • Painful Teats
  • Signs of illness or complication such as:
    • Fever,
    • Shivering
    • Loss of Appetite

Treating Mom

Content puppies often means everything is okay.

When it comes to treating mom, it really depends on what is wrong with her. The first thing that you should do is to take her to the vet. There, they can determine what is happening to cause her to have toxic milk.

For most of the conditions, a strong course of antibiotics will be prescribed. Do not treat at home with holistic treatments in the case of infections.

Mastitis can be treated at home but usually antibiotics are prescribed as well. For more information about how to treat mastitis, read our article on it.

Uterine infections can be more serious and may need to be treated with spaying.

Once treatment starts, your vet may recommend that your puppies no longer nurse from mom until her regiment of antibiotics are finished.

Treating Puppies

It is important to stop puppies from nursing when treating for toxic milk syndrome.

Treatment of the puppies always starts with taking them off mom and starting to bottle feed them. While some people will reduce the amount of nursing, it is best to just remove them completely from nursing.

When they are removed, you will need to start treating puppies for their diarrhea. If the diarrhea is severe, you can treat it with Kaopectate in small amounts: 0.5ml per pound of body weight. Be sure to choose one with no artificial sweetener and no xylitol.

In addition, since puppies with diarrhea often become dehydrated, you should give the puppies subcutaneous fluids to help with dehydration. You can also give Pedialyte every few hours about 1 to 2ml per pound of weight. As with Kaopectate, choose a Pedialyte with no artificial sweetener.

Sometimes, if the puppies recieved a large amount of bacteria in the milk, you will need to have them on antibiotics as well, which your vet will prescribe.

Toxic milk syndrome is a serious condition but if you catch and treat it quickly, your mom and puppies will be fine. Never hesitate to take them to the vet and by monitoring them closely, you will be sure to avoid this problem in your puppies.