Dogs typically enter their first heat cycle or menstrual cycle at six months old. At that time, she will experience both physical and mental changes which makes it an extremely uncomfortable and stressful time, meanwhile, the dogs around her will also behave in “unusual” ways.
(Image via K9 of Mine)
Dogs can go into heat once every six months but this varies for different sizes of dogs. Small dogs usually go into heat more commonly — up to four times per year. On the other hand, larger dogs might only go into heat once a year. A heat cycle, also known as an estrus, can also last between two to four weeks, and it is also the stage where a female dog can become pregnant.
Some of the signs that your dog is on her period are:
Swollen genitals (vulva looks larger than its normal size)
Lots of licking
Male dogs lurking around (receptive to male dogs)
Aggression and agitation
Raising her rear and deflecting her tail to one side (also known as flagging)
Peeing more than usual
Keeping your girl comfortable while on her period
(Image via Olivia Rossi)
There are plenty of things you can do to make sure your furkid is clean, healthy and safe while she is on her period. These include never scolding your dog when she accidentally makes a bloody mess. Having her period for the first time can be quite confusing, hence she will be needing extra love and attention!
When in heat, dogs tend to get snuggly, so set aside some extra time for cuddles! Other than giving cuddles and snuggles, you can also play with her more, brush her, or just give her more pats. Offering new toys can also help manage boredom and keep her entertained during this difficult time.
Danielle Mühlenberg, a dog behaviourist, said that a dog on her period may become more clingy and affectionate than usual, so make sure to spend more time with your baby to make her feel better! Most importantly, let your furkid tell you how much interaction and affection she wants with you — let her come to you, otherwise, give her the space she needs.
The smell of hormones released during your girl’s period will also be detected by the instinctual noses of male dogs from far away. Therefore, it is essential for you pawrents to monitor your dog and surroundings at all times when you are out on a walk or a poop break. Don’t leave her to roam around alone as this may cause unwanted pregnancies which you will be responsible for!
If you have other dogs at home (especially male dogs that are not yet neutered), you can consider separating her in a secure area in your house until she is finished with her period. If this is not an option for you, try creating a barrier (crate, gate or fence) between the dogs at all times to prevent them from mating.
Besides, you can buy dog diapers online or at physical pet shops for your furkid to wear on her period. This will help keep your dog clean and prevent her from getting penetrated by her male counterparts. However, diapers should not be used as a primary form of pregnancy prevention for dogs. Spaying is still the best way to prevent a dog from getting pregnant.
Wearing a diaper is also beneficial in terms of maintaining cleanliness around your house and preventing your dog from over-grooming herself. As mentioned above, dogs clean themselves more while they are in heat and constant licking can lead to irritation, skin soreness and infection.
Benefits of spaying your dogs
(Image via Banfield Pet Hospital)
After spaying your furkid, she will no longer go into heat. That is why spaying can prevent unwanted litters and help reduce the pet overpopulation problem. Millions of stray dogs are euthanised every year, hence having your dog sterilised can reduce behaviours associated with the mating instinct. Not to mention the cost of spaying a dog is much lesser than the cost of caring for a litter of pups!
There is no doubt that many pawrents are concerned about spaying their dogs but the reasons to spay outweigh the risks of not doing so.
Dr Chris Zink and Dr Myrna Milani, doctors of veterinary medicine, believe that spaying a dog after her second heat is ideal but everything still depends on her breed, age, physical and living condition. Homeless dogs may need to be spayed much earlier compared to dogs in homes to keep the homeless dogs population under control.
Spaying your dog can reduce health risks such as a potentially fatal infection of the uterus and mammary gland cancer. In short, your furkid will live a longer, healthier life.
Nonetheless, you should always speak to your veterinarian to find out everything you need to know about spaying your furbaby before making a choice that you believe is best for her. Having a detailed discussion with your veterinarian will help you make an informed decision about your furkid’s future health!
As a new pawrent, it may come as a surprise when your dog has her period for the first time. We hope this article can guide you through this period, literally!
Please send us a message on our Instagram or send us an email at email@example.com if you have any tips that you discovered while helping your little one with her period. We would love to share that information with other pawrents!
You can also read our article called Dog-Friendly Recipe: Taking Your Dog’s Birthday to the Next Level! to bake the purfect pupcake for your little girl after she is done with her period. A full belly means a happy puppy!