Mommies in Mayhem
I love spring time with the green trees, bushes and grass, flowers, and most of all the baby animals! As a veterinarian, I have the wonderful opportunity to help with many of these birthing experiences; as well as, the after care of these young little ones as they begin life in this incredible and challenging world.
One challenge that can come during this birthing period has little to do with baby at all and more to do with Mom. The challenge is mastitis. Any woman who as experienced mastitis will tell you the pain, discomfort and anxiety that comes with this usually treatable condition. It is no different in our veterinary patients.
Mastitis is the swelling, heat, redness, pain and sometimes infection of the mammary gland. Mastitis, associated with infection, most commonly occurs when bacteria climb up within the open teats (nipples) and set up a pathogenic colony within the gland. Sometimes this disease-causing group of bacteria come from a dirty environment and sometimes it is contagious, meaning spread from animal to animal.
To insure protection against mastitis, we here at the Bear Lake Animal Hospital make several recommendations:
- Provide a clean, dry environment for the mother during birthing (parturition) and afterwards.
- If the Mother will be feeding her baby(ies), make sure she stays as clean as possible. This will insure that the babies will have less of a chance of latching onto filth when looking for a nipple.
- Weeks to months before birthing, the Mother should be placed on a quality diet to meet her and the baby(ies) needs before and after the birthing. This could be a Dietary Cation – Anion Difference (DCAD) diet for dairy cows to prevent milk fever (hypocalcemia), feeding grain to the pregnant goat/sheep to prevent pregnancy toxemia or transitioning to a high caloric diet for dogs and cats. It is recommended that dogs receive up to eight times their normal energy requirement when lactating and up to six times for cats. (*Note: this doesn’t just mean more food).
- While prevention is the key in mastitis cases, we ask that you don’t blame yourself if your animal does acquire this challenging condition. Life can sometimes get out of our control, and all we can do is be vigilant in recognizing the early signs of mastitis to prevent more serious complications. These signs include heat, swelling, and discomfort in the mammary gland(s) or discolored/clotted milk. Recognizing these signs early will ensure appropriate treatment for the mother and prevent loss in nutrition to the baby(ies). Should the mother be diagnosed with mastitis the baby(ies) will likely need to have their nutrition supplemented.
We at the Bear Lake Animal Hospital are committed to helping you and your animals have a wonderful spring… free of the complications of mastitis! Call us at 208-847-2547 or message us on Facebook for more information on mastitis prevention or other veterinary services!