Has your pooch just started her first heat?
Or you’re worried because you don’t intend to breed her anytime soon?
Whichever your case is…
You need to be prepared for it by knowing the do’s and don’ts.
I’ll discuss these shortly.
So keep on reading to learn:
- How you can help a dog in heat.
- What to do if your female canine bleeds.
- If it’s safe to walk your dog while she’s in season.
- When you can expect the bleeding and the whole cycle to stop.
- And many more…
Table of contents
- What to do when your dog is in heat?
- What to do when your dog is in heat and bleeding?
- 17 tips on what to do when your dog is in heat (and bleeding)
- #1: Give her some extra lovin’ and attention
- #2: Provide a cozy space for her
- #3: Give her blankies
- #4: Keep her entertained
- #5: Avoid keeping her off-leash and unattended
- #6: Don’t make her skip exercise
- #7: Adjust her walking routine
- #8: See to it that her tag and microchip is updated
- #9: Prepare a good doggy diaper
- #10: Clean your house many times a day
- #11: Avoid scolding, distract her instead
- #12: Keep her away from other dogs (especially males)
- #13: Separate your dogs at home
- #14: Mask her pheromone ‘perfume’
- #15: Shut your windows
- #16: Ensure that she’s eating and drinking well
- #17: Monitor her for any signs of illnesses
- #BONUS: Consider spaying when her cycle ends
What to do when your dog is in heat?
When your dog is in heat, you should give her: extra attention, a cozy space, exercise, and mental stimulation. Don’t leave her off-leash, update her ID tag info, adjust her walks, keep her scent under control, separate her from other dogs, close all windows, and watch her appetite and behavior.
What to do when your dog is in heat and bleeding?
When your dog is in heat and bleeding, you can: make her wear doggy diapers or pants to avoid stains, limit the area where she can roam, and put clean blankets or towels on her bedding as well as her favorite spots to absorb her discharge. Also, practice good hygiene and clean your place frequently.
17 tips on what to do when your dog is in heat (and bleeding)
#1: Give her some extra lovin’ and attention
Dogs need their daily dose of TLC (tender loving care).
But when a female pooch is in heat, she would appreciate it even more.
It’s because she’s going to experience a lot of changes inside her body. (Us, girls, can relate)
She’s going to have a surge of hormones (estrogen) in the first phase of her cycle. Her vulva or outer part of the vagina will swell. And there’s also gonna be some bleeding.
Because of these, she could feel ‘hormonal’ and may become extra:
So what do you need to do?
Reassure her that everything’s going to be okay.
Talk to her and stay by her side as often as you can. And offer her emotional support throughout the cycle.
Just a quick info. Their heat can last up to 2 to 3 weeks, according to VCA. But some canines might also have it for a month.
Also, she’ll appreciate more cuddles from you.
Research shows that humans can act as dogs’ safety blankets as well.
So it’s not just us who benefit from canines. Because it’s actually a two-way support system.
Reading tip: Why does my dog sigh when I cuddle him/her?
#2: Provide a cozy space for her
You already know what a female feels during a heat cycle. So to reduce her stress, give her a quiet and comfy place to rest.
Option #1: Crate
If you opt for a crate, ensure that it’s big enough for her to move with ease. And there should also be space left for her water, food bowl, and toys.
When using wired ones, put soft washable bedding inside to make it comfy.
You may also cover the top and sides of it with a heavy blanket. Since other pups prefer ‘den-like’ spaces that somehow remind them of their mom’s nest.
But if your pooch is small and doesn’t chew, she might like a crate with soft sides instead like this.
Note: If you have a male pooch at home, the soft-sided crate will not be a good choice. Why? I’ll discuss the reason later on. 🙂
Option #2: Separate room
You can also put her in your room or an extra area at your house.
Then again, provide everything she needs in there. From a soft bed to her favorite toys. As well as the right room temperature for her.
“But what is considered cold for canines?”
PetMD says that most dogs will be fine as long as it isn’t below 45°F (7°C).
Option #3: Doggy playpen
If you just plan to limit the area where she can roam, a dog playpen would be great.
Place some washable and non-slip play mat under it. As well as all of her needs and you’re good to go.
She’ll have a bigger space. Plus, this will help if you can’t put a doggy diaper on her.
You won’t be worried about getting some blood on hard-to-clean areas. Say carpet and fabric couch.
However, this is recommended if she’s the only dog in your house. And also if she’s calm and can’t easily knock or climb over the pen.
You know your pooch well. So pick whichever works best for you and her. 🙂
#3: Give her blankies
You’re not going to be there all the time for her. So to increase her comfort level, leave her soft blankets that she can snuggle in.
Put it on her bed to make a nice nest. Or on her favorite spot on the couch.
This will also help you with her discharge. As it’ll absorb fluids and save you time from cleaning.
Just make sure to check it regularly to see if it needs to be replaced by a new one.
You might also like: Why does my dog sleep on my clothes?
#4: Keep her entertained
As said before, there are times when your pooch needs to be left alone.
But a female dog in heat may often be anxious. So to keep her mind off from worrying, amuse her with fun toys.
“What kind of stuff should I look for?”
Durable chewy toys would help her relieve tension and keep her occupied. But for their safety, choose ones that are non-toxic and resistant.
Also, give her long-lasting treats. Like bully sticks and beef tendons.
#5: Avoid keeping her off-leash and unattended
Whether you’re planning to breed her or not, it’ll be unsafe to leave her alone outside. As well as to let her play or walk off-leash.
“But my dog is very obedient and normally calm.”
You’ll never know what her hormones can do at the sight of an ‘attractive’ male pooch.
She may instantly run away, follow him, and jump off the fence.
Because when dogs reach sexual maturity, it’ll be common for them to roam in search of mates.
#6: Don’t make her skip exercise
A heat cycle might be a stressful period for your pooch. And she may also have tremendous energy.
So how can you help her loosen up or mellow out?
Of course, by doing some exercises.
But, consider her energy level first.
If it seems like she’s under the weather, have some short walks (on-leash). And give her plenty of rest during and after.
This also applies if you have a senior Fido or one with joint problems.
Since it isn’t safe to have your dog off-leash in your yard, try these instead….
Fun indoor activities
Canines can still have fun inside the comfort of your home. But, it’s important to introduce games that’ll make them engaged.
Here are some ideas:
Fetch – Use soft toys instead to prevent accidents. And do this away from fragile and valuable items.
Scent games – Make your dog find hidden treats or toys inside. Use cue words like, “Go!” or “Find it!” Then reward her after.
Learning new tricks – This will keep her mentally stimulated. Plus, it’ll also be a good bonding time for the two of you.
But is she already an expert in sitting and lying down?
Teach her upgraded tricks instead like:
- Rolling over.
- Retrieving things.
#7: Adjust her walking routine
“Can I take my dog for a walk when in season?”
I’ve found that many people are wondering about this.
So, is it really safe to take them outside?
The answer is yes.
BUT, as a responsible dog parent, there are things to keep in mind first before doing so.
It’s known that male Fidos may go crazy once they smell a female in heat. And your girl can also be attracted to them.
Plus, you don’t want to cause trouble for other parents out there. So don’t walk her in your usual routine and do these instead:
- Put a leash on her. To prevent her from running away.
- Avoid crowded and popular parks. Dog parks are a no-no. Go to less-known places.
- Go to large areas. To avoid crashing into other people and canines.
- Be alert. Always keep an eye on your surroundings. Move away if there are other dogs around.
- Walk her during unusual hours. Like early in the morning or right before it gets too dark outside.
- Break the scent trail. Don’t walk your pooch from and to your house. Get her in the car to avoid leaving her scent that dogs may pick up.
#8: See to it that her tag and microchip is updated
Male dogs roam when they smell a female in heat from afar. And girls also tend to escape.
According to American Humane, every year, only 15.8% of canines are reunited with their parents. And this data came from animal shelters in the US.
So if the worst comes to the worst…
Make sure that your pooch’s ID tag and microchip have your updated contact info.
Note: If your dog doesn’t have a microchip, talk to your local vet about it. PetsWebMD says it may cost around $50 or less.
#9: Prepare a good doggy diaper
According to Merck Vets, bleeding is a sign that your dog’s cycle has started.
And she would also pee frequently, so expect more potty breaks.
You don’t need to worry about mess and stains if you have a dog diaper.
So, what diapers are good for dogs?
There are 2 kinds – the disposable and the reusable one. And each has its own good and bad points:
|Type of dog diaper||Pros||Cons|
|Disposable||Handy. Convenient.||Costly. Easy to rip. May contain harmful chemicals.|
|Reusable||Durable. Economical. Eco-friendly. Chemical-free.||Inconvenient. Needs to be cleaned regularly.|
What size of diaper will fit my dog?
To make sure that you get the right size, grab a tape measure.
Then while your dog is standing up, get her:
Waist size: Move about 2 inches (5.08 cm) from her hind limbs. Then measure around her waist.
Diaper length: Start under her tummy (middle part). And between her hind legs up to the middle of her spine.
After this, list down her measurements. And check your preferred doggy diaper’s sizing chart.
Wanna see how to measure and put on a diaper? Check this video:
Note: It might be hard to put a diaper on your dog for the first time. So before her heat, get her used to it first. And don’t forget to prepare treats to distract her.
How long can a dog wear a diaper?
Change her diaper as frequently as you can.
This is because like babies, it may also cause rashes and skin irritation on your pooch.
So replace it before it gets too wet or soggy. Then clean her behind with grooming wipes for dogs.
How many days does she need to wear it?
The good thing is, canines don’t produce that much ‘period’ like humans.
But, their bleeding will be at a peak during the first phase called proestrus. And this lasts up to 7 to 10 days.
As she goes on to the next stage which is estrus, the amount will be reduced. Which is an additional 5 to 10 days.
Then after a few more, the bleeding will stop.
If you have other dogs at home, consider keeping it until her cycle ends. This is to prevent her from spreading her scent.
Note: Remember, diapers aren’t effective birth control. So these wouldn’t stop canines from mating if ever.
#10: Clean your house many times a day
If your pooch hates diapers and likes to be ‘free,’ you may need to clean as much as you can.
Keep your place stain-free. Mop your floors frequently, especially the areas where she usually stays.
Use a dog-safe enzymatic cleaner. As this could break down stains and even strong foul odors.
#11: Avoid scolding, distract her instead
Humping and urine-marking?
These are known male dog behaviors that can make parents pull their hair out.
But, it’s observed in females too.
So if you catch your pooch from doing any of those, just call her name. Or toss a toy or treat instead.
Although seeing pee everywhere can stress you out, avoid yelling or any punishments. Because these will only make her more anxious.
Don’t forget to check out: 15 Reasons Why Female Dogs Hump Stuffed Animals + 3 Tips
#12: Keep her away from other dogs (especially males)
It’s possible that a female dog in heat can stir up male canines. And this could lead to a dog fight among boys.
This is due to the pheromones and hormones that she’s giving off.
So while your pooch is in heat, avoid taking her to crowded public places. And always keep a safe distance from other dogs.
Do this if you don’t want accidental mating. Or cause a commotion outside.
Be mindful of other people as there are even laws about this.
Like in the UK, there are rules stating that dog parents need to keep their Fidos in control while in public.
And I’m sure you don’t want to make others ‘break’ the law and cause a problem.
#13: Separate your dogs at home
Aside from giving your female dog her own safe place….
You also need to manage your other Fidos at home. Particularly if you have an intact male canine.
Unneutered boys will be restless and whine when they can smell a female in season. So to prevent them from being stressed put them in a faraway room.
There are also cases where male dogs can’t eat and sleep when they sense a female in heat.
So you may also lookup dog boarding places for your boy/s if the situation gets worse.
You might also be interested in: How to relieve a sexually frustrated male dog?
#14: Mask her pheromone ‘perfume’
“How do you mask the smell of a female dog in heat?”
You can’t completely remove her scent. But, you may somehow lessen the odor.
Option #1: Chlorophyll
Yup. This is what plants need and gives them a bright green color.
But, did you know that it can also conceal the smell of a female in season?
For this to be effective, give it to your pooch on the 1st day of her heat. Then make her have it once in the morning and once at night.
If she has trouble taking medicines, mix them into her meals instead. Or pour it into her water.
It’s apparently safe and has many health benefits too.
According to a specialist, chlorophyll can help in:
- Fighting infection.
- Improving digestion.
- Restoring red blood cells.
- Keeping the dog’s breath smell fresh.
Note: The dosage would depend on your dog’s size and weight. So to be sure, ask your vet.
Option #2: Essential oils
Another way to do this is to introduce other attractive scents.
You might have noticed the hype around essential oils that’s been going on recently.
Disclaimer: Now, I’m not a fan of them. However, as a dedicated dog lover and advisor, I feel like it’s my job to help you make the best decision for your dog. So if you’ve decided to try them out, below I’ll share all that you need to know.
There are sprays available in the market that contain essential oils which can help mask her odor.
But remember, not all essences are safe for our furry friends.
Dr. Maranda Elswick says that the higher its concentration, the more harmful it’ll be to dogs.
And when applied, it’ll be absorbed quickly by their skin. Then it’ll go to their bloodstream and liver.
However, she also pointed out that essences could help in calming a dog. So she listed down some essential oils that are safe for canines:
- Rose oil.
- Fennel oil.
- Lavender oil.
- Chamomile oil.
- Helichrysum oil.
- Frankincense oil.
She said that among these, lavender oil is the safest one for dogs and cats. But as long as it’s properly diluted.
Warning: Even the safe ones listed above may still irritate your dog’s airway or skin. So consult with your vet to know which is the best choice for your pooch.
What to do next?
First, dilute the essence with dog-safe carrier oils. This is a must since it’s concentrated and can be dangerous for canines.
Examples of carrier oils are:
- Almond oil.
- Coconut oil.
- Grapeseed oil.
- Extra virgin olive oil.
Note: According to Elswick, the solution is usually at least 1 drop of pure essential oil. And up to 50 drops of carrier oil.
Second, do a ‘smell test.’
Don’t apply it to your dog yet. Keep a safe distance from them and see her reaction.
If she doesn’t like the scent, don’t use it.
Third, either spray a little on your female dog’s base of the tail. Or apply some of this on your male Fido.
But, avoid putting these on their:
- Parts with skin irritation.
Third, what may have worked for others might not be right for your pooch. So monitor your dog for any signs of allergy or toxicity:
- Red skin.
- Runny nose.
- Red/watery eyes.
- Squinting of eyes.
- Pawing at the face.
- Difficulty breathing.
If you notice any of these:
- Wipe the essence on her skin immediately.
- Make her breathe fresh air.
- Call your veterinarian.
Note: Keep your essence bottle in a safe and high place – where your dog can’t access it.
#15: Shut your windows
Male dogs were said to be capable of smelling a female’s scent from 5 miles away.
But this isn’t a surprise since their nose is no joke.
Scenting breeds were even found to be on the same par as wolves. Like German Shorthaired Pointers and Basset Hounds.
It’s known that dogs are descendants of wolves – who have a keen sense of smell used in hunting.
So if you don’t want any suitors outside your house, try closing all your windows.
Open them a bit once in a while to let some air in. But if you can shut them for a long period, do so.
#16: Ensure that she’s eating and drinking well
Some female dogs may not have an appetite during their first days.
Experts explain that it can be due to stress and anxiety. And it’s understandable since they’re going through some changes during heat.
But still, it won’t be good if this persists for days. So entice her with her favorite foods or treats. And see to it that she’s drinking enough water.
Also, try hand feeding her kibbles. If she eats some, do it again throughout the day to regain her desire to eat.
In other cases, dogs’ appetite will come back after a few days. And they might even eat more than usual as they’re replenishing their energy.
So ensure that you’re feeding her balanced and nutritious meals.
What should I feed her?
As much as possible, stick to the food that’s already on her diet.
But, make it healthier. For example, give her plain boiled chicken for protein instead.
She’s also gonna need more carbs for energy. So continue feeding her dog food as it’s enough to sustain her daily needs.
As well as healthy grains such as corn, oats, and barley.
Because compared to commercial food, these contain little refined carbs which can make dogs gain weight.
But do you have a senior Fido?
If so, specialists say that she’ll benefit from low-calorie and low-sodium food.
Old dogs are more prone to health issues such as diabetes and liver disease.
So steer away from meals high in fat. And give her sources of fiber instead, like pumpkins.
#17: Monitor her for any signs of illnesses
Heat cycles in dogs shouldn’t also be taken lightly.
Due to hormones, a female’s uterus lining will thicken to get ready for breeding. But as this continues, it can lead to a life-threatening disease called pyometra.
Its common signs are:
- Distended abdomen.
- Drinking excessively.
- Pus-like vaginal discharge.
Another symptom of this is frequent urination. So if your dog’s heat is over and she’s still peeing so much, consult your vet at once.
Also, to further verify if her cycle ends, check for:
- Her vulva: There shouldn’t be any swelling or bleeding anymore.
- Licking behavior: This must have been reduced or stopped now.
- Growths or lumps: These aren’t normal and can lead to an infection.
#BONUS: Consider spaying when her cycle ends
If you want to breed your dog, consult your vet about it.
Being in heat is the only time she can mate. So for safe and effective breeding, ask experts about the matter.
But, if you don’t have any plans of breeding her, it’ll be best to have her spayed.
What are its benefits?
Aside from avoiding complications during pregnancies and overpopulation of dogs…
There are more things that your pooch will be grateful for. And these are preventing her from having:
- Breast cancer.
- False pregnancy.
The first two illnesses can cause fatalities to dogs. So removing these from the equation will make your pooch healthier and live longer.
Plus, she won’t get stressed as she won’t go in heat anymore. And you’re also gonna say goodbye to urine-marking and roaming.
At what age should dogs be spayed?
‘Fixing’ them as early as 6 months old has been a common practice in the US.
But to be sure, experts say that you need to have her checked to see if she’s fit to go.
This is because research says that spaying or neutering dogs at a young age may put them at risk of cancer. But this is mainly observed in Labs and Golden Retrievers.
Also, removing their sex organs too early can affect their growth. As well as cause joint problems such as:
- Hip dysplasia.
- Elbow dysplasia.
- Cranial cruciate ligament tear.
Interesting fact: Did you know that domestic dogs are nonseasonal breeders except for Basenjis? But in free-ranging canines, a study shows that their mating season is within August and December. And also during the late monsoon – September to November.