Why Are There Scabs On My Dog’s Nipples

Why Are There Scabs On My Dog’s Nipples?

Last Updated: August 20, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

An infection may result in scabs and crusts on or around a dog’s nipples. Mastitic dogs can develop ulcers and inflammation of their teats due to mastitis. It is also possible that puppies bite their mother’s nipples, resulting in small lacerations that may become infected. In addition to excessive sebum production, another cause of black stuff accumulating around the nipple is dirt that can attract dirt, leading to the appearance of a dry, black mass. Scabs can also develop as a result of yeast infections.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “Why Are There Scabs On My Dog’s Nipples?“.

Many pet owners are baffled when they find scabs or crusts on their pets nipples after a quick belly rub.

Why Are There Scabs On My Dog’s Nipples

Can you tell me whats wrong with my dog? Is it something serious?

There are many reasons why a dog might develop nipple scabs.

There are some of them that isnot a cause for alarm and many vets will dismiss them but on the other hand those black scabs could indicate a serious problem.

Here are the top causes for nipples to develop scabs and crusts.

What is mastitis?

During the postpartum period female dogs are most likely to have issues with their nipples. 

After giving birth your dog may have mastitis an inflammation of the teats caused by an accumulation of milk in the mammary glands or by a fungal or bacterial infection.   

The following are the most common signs of mastitis:

  • Inflamed or swollen mammary glands
  • Nippel discoloration
  • The feeling of pain and discomfort
  • Embarrassments
  • Wounds that are open and scabbed

After the death of a puppy the dogs teats may become inflamed causing it to have a decreased appetite for milk. If puppies are taken from their mothers prematurely they can also develop swelling in the mammary glands.

Puppy bites at their mothers’ teats are also a common problem. Theres nothing aggressive about the puppies. They’re just immature or they’re fighting among themselves to get to the teats and bite them unintentionally.

Even the tiniest of wounds may become infected which explains both the scabs and the smelly discharge from a festering wound. 

Among the most common bacteria involved in mastitis there are Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus.

Mastitis requires immediate medical treatment usually involving antibiotics. Occasionally dogs may require hospitalization to receive intravenous fluids and medications. Additionally a vet might recommend surgery if necrotic tissue is found.

Furthermore puppies should not be allowed to nurse from infected teats as they may also become infected. 

While the mother is recovering owners should bottle-feed the puppies.

Phantom pregnancy in dogs

False pregnancies may also cause mammary gland discharge which can cause infections in the nipples. False pregnancy symptoms typically appear a few weeks after a heat cycle.

Dogs behave as if they are pregnant even if they are not. You may notice that your dog exhibits typical nesting behavior at first.

Progesterone causes the mammary glands to enlarge which may cause a whitish discharge. Because the swollen teats may cause discomfort the dog might scratch her nipples or lick those she can reach which can lead to open wounds and infections.

The symptoms of phantom pregnancy typically subside in two or three weeks and no treatment is necessary. However make sure your dog does not have mastitis by checking its nipples. Milk should not be expressed since this will only lead to even more milk production. Your veterinarian might prescribe diuretics to reduce milk production.

six causes of black gunk or dried blood around nipples?

While nursing bitches will have problems many dog owners are concerned when they discover black gunk or even dried blood around their male or spayed pets. These are some of the main causes of this very common problem in dogs.

Yeast infection

You can expect your dogs nipples to become inflamed if your dog suffers from recurrent yeast infections. The cause of yeast infections is a fungus that thrives in moist and warm areas of the body especially in skin folds. Oily skin and hair are usually signs of yeast infections which are characterized by intense itching.

A yeast infection in or around a nipple can cause crusts and scabs as a result of scratching.

Yeast infections can occur anywhere else on the dogs body including:

  • Discharge from open sores that is yellow or green
  • Excessive oiliness of the skin and coat
  • Craggy and flaky skin
  • Musty smell
  • Thick elephant skin
  • recurring ear infections

A special antifungal shampoo should be used to treat yeast infections and the shampoo should remain on the fur for ten minutes at least. If the dog has extensive skin issues the vet might recommend antifungal oral medication.

Infected inverted nipples

It is quite common for dogs to have inverted nipples and normally they should not cause them any problems. The owner may not even notice that the nipples are inverted on dogs with long hair because the fur usually hides the nipples.

Dirt accumulates well on flat or inward-pointing nipples however. Sebum the waxy substance produced by the sebaceous glands might also get caked on the dogs inverted nipples. Most dogs are not bothered by inverted nipples but if they scratch at them they might develop crusts.

Ideally you should bathe your dog and gently clean the dirt around his nipples. The antibiotic gel should be applied to any infection.

Allergies and itching 

When your dog has allergies he may scratch intensely resulting in crusts on his nipples. It is possible for dogs to be allergic to food pollen dust mold insect bites or chemicals used around the house. A dog that has a rash or an insect bite wound can be highly annoying causing it to scratch furiously. Due to the sensitive nature of the nipple area infections and scabbing can occur easily.

In such situations you should try to identify the allergen causing your dogs misery and try to remove it from his environment. A gel containing antibiotics will probably be effective in treating wounds that have been infected. In addition the dog might require soothing baths and calming ointments to relieve irritation.


After the dog has been injured on the nipple bacteria or fungi can easily enter the milk ducts causing an infection. The nipple of an abscess is inflamed and swollen with pus oozing out. Abscesses may develop around a wound caused by a puncture or scratch with a foreign body such as a thorn or twig. Puncture wounds might trap bacteria when they close resulting in inflammation and an unpleasant smell. Despite appearing black as dirt coats it this discharge is not black.

You should bathe your dog gently if you suspect he has an abscess on his nipple. Once the puncture sign is visible apply an antibiotic gel for a couple of days and it should go away on its own.

Skin irritations caused by a harness

An owner might notice nipple problems shortly after purchasing a new harness for their dog. It might have been caused by the harness rubbing against the dogs skin if the nipples were on the upper part of the body. Once the harness is removed if the dog feels any discomfort he will attempt to lick or scratch himself which will only aggravate the situation.

For a few days you can take him out without a harness or use their old one while applying a topical cream to the nipple wound.

Mammary gland cancer

The likelihood of mammary tumors in intact female dogs is higher. Dogs spayed before their first or second heat cycle have a very low risk of developing such tumors.

Tumors of the mammary gland can appear next to or inside the nipple and they are usually firm and nodular in shape. It is possible for a tumor to cause swelling in the nipple and ulceration and bleeding of the skin which causes crusting. Symptoms may include nipple discharge and a feeling of warmth in the affected area.

Nevertheless you should not panic if you suspect your dog has a mammary gland tumor since roughly half of them are benign and can be easily treated.

If you notice a lump in your pets nipple you should have it checked out right away. When malignant tumors are caught early before they spread even malignant tumors can be treated.

How to relieve a dog’s itchy skin?

Crusty nipples are usually the result of skin irritations. An application of hydrocortisone cream will relieve itching quickly. They are not harmful once or twice in small quantities but they are not suited for veterinary use. Its best to use these creams only on those nipples the dog can not reach.

Its best to use an apple cider vinegar solution if the dog has an allergy or yeast infection. ACV and water are mixed together in this spray and can be sprayed on the affected area.

To soothe the skin you can also take an oatmeal bath. Put a handful or two of plain oatmeal in your dogs warm bathwater and grind it into a fine powder.

Coconut oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties so you can apply a little to the nipple area if your dog has a wound there. You can also use it to treat allergies yeast infections or insect bites.


An infection may result in scabs and crusts on or around a dogs nipples. Mastitic dogs can develop ulcers and inflammation of their teats due to mastitis. It is also possible that puppies bite their mothers nipples resulting in small lacerations that may become infected.

In addition to excessive sebum production another cause of black stuff accumulating around the nipple is dirt that can attract dirt leading to the appearance of a dry black mass.

Scabs can also develop as a result of yeast infections.

Apply an antibiotic gel to the affected area after cleaning the affected nipple preferably during a bath. In case there is no improvement in a couple of days take the dog to the vet to rule out more serious issues.  

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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