Why is my dog bleeding? Do female dogs menstruate? When do dogs get their first period? What is heat? What is an “Estrus” cycle? Are female pets more difficult to raise? Is raising a female dog costlier than a male? What are some myths & facts surrounding female dogs? This blog encompasses answers to all these questions.
Before you get a dog, it’s important to acknowledge that you’re ready & prepared to be a responsible dog owner. From getting crates, food, toys to setting up vet visits there’s a lot of preparation required. And if you have a female dog, this also includes being ready for your dog’s “periods”, in other words, her Estrus cycle.
This blog covers: -
- Understanding “Heat” & menstruation in dogs
- Dog Menstruation VS Human Menstruation
- How do you know when your dog is in “heat”?
- Phases of Dog Heat Cycles
- How to keep your dog comfortable during heat?
- Do Dogs undergo Menopause?
- How to Manage Your Dog’s ‘Period’
- How to prevent Pregnancy during Heat?
- The Importance of Spaying Your Female Dog
Dog Menstruation VS Human Menstruation
Dogs don’t menstruate the same way a human female does. Female dogs, typically, reach sexual maturity at around 6 months old & get their first “Estrus” cycle or “heat”. During this phase there’s a sharp increase in Oestrogen levels, then a sharp decrease, followed by her ovaries releasing eggs. On an average, the Estrus cycle lasts 3 weeks.
Unlike a 28-day cycle in humans, dogs go into heat every six months, on an average. However, this number can vary with different breeds. Some dogs may go into heat at four months, but bigger dogs may be as old as two years before their first heat. . It can take some dogs around 18 to 24 months to develop a regular cycle. Small dogs usually go into heat more often — as much as three to four times a year. Large breeds such as Great Danes and St. Bernard might only go into heat once a year.
How do you know when your dog is in “heat”?
While in heat, there numerous behavioural, physiological & mental signs to look out for: -
- First & foremost, she’ll typically urinate more often than usual & there may be a pinkish or blood-tinged discharge along with her urine.
- Her vulva may get swollen.
- She may mark areas inside & outside the house more often. Usually used to mark territory, females, during heat, use urine marking to attract potential male mates.
- While outside, your bitch can seem nervous, distracted, conscious & more receptive to male dogs. She may initiate sexual contact by raising her rear, deflecting her tail to one side (this is called “flagging”).
- The heat cycle lasts about three weeks. The discharge starts as bloody in color and then gradually lightens to pinkish in color. A bitch can usually become pregnant around the end of the first week until after the second week, sometimes longer.
Phases of Dog Heat Cycles
A female dog’s reproductive cycle is called an “Estrus” cycle & can be broken down into 3 different phases: -
Proestus: The beginning of the heat cycle, the “Proestus” phase can be characterized by the swelling of the vulva & blood-tinged vaginal discharge. Your female dog won’t allow mating to occur during this phase. On an average “Proestus” lasts 7-10 days. However, in some cases it may last anywhere from a couple days to 4 weeks.
Estrus: Also known as “heat”, this is the most fertile phase of your female dog. She will allow mating to occur during this phase. On an average, “Estrus” lasts for about 9 days. It may last anywhere between 3 to 21 days.
Anestrus: This phase is the longest. This is the timeframe when cycling ceases. Simply put, “Anestrus” is the months between the end of one Estrus and the beginning of the next cycle & lasts anywhere between 4 to 5 months.
How to keep your dog comfortable during heat?
Especially the first time, being in heat can be a pretty confusing experience for your female dog. She may feel a multitude emotions & need some extra snuggles & affection. It’s important to be patient & follow these steps: -
- Never Scold your dog if she makes a bloody mess. Calmly reassure her while cleaning the area with the Zoivane Odour Control Spray. Furthermore, clean your doggo thoroughly with the Zoivane Pet Wipes or the Floral Powder. Negative Reinforcement can result various physiological, mental & psychological complications.
- Dogs tend to become extra snuggly during this time. Set aside some extra time for cuddles & lots of love. Consider moving her bed / crate & toys near your bed or desk.
- Surround her with snuggly toys to make her feel comfortable, occupied & secure.
- Make extra sure that she’s drinking adequate water & eating well.
- Be open to extra potty breaks. Since there’s a lot going on down there, she may feel the urge to relieve herself more often than usual.
Do Dogs undergo Menopause?
In one word – No. Dogs do not go through a typical menopause like humans. Their reproductive cycles are different in this regard. Once they start going into heat, dogs can continue to go into heat throughout their lives, unless they’re spayed.
However, as your dog gets older, her cycles may occur less often & the duration between one heat and the next will be longer. This is perfectly normal in dogs as they age. But just because dogs can get pregnant as seniors doesn’t mean they should. If such a thing happens, litters will be smaller, there may be more infant deaths & labour may be more difficult if your senior dog gets pregnant or gets pregnant frequently. Moreover, females that get pregnant after 8 years of age are more at risk of developing pyometra, which is a life-threatening disease.
How to Manage Your Dog’s ‘Period’
Now that you have some semblance of your dog’s Estrus cycle, you can be better prepared with the following products. Reusable or disposable, keep some diapers handy when you female dog goes into heat.
Reusable Dog Diapers
This first category of dog diapers is economical as well as environmentally conscious. Just like human diapers, these diapers are super absorbent with multiple layers, and, washable & reusable. They’re usually available for dogs of all sizes.
Disposable Dog Diapers
If you’re not comfortable washing or reusing diapers then you should consider buying disposable dog diapers. The diapers are designed to be leak-proof, absorbent, comfortable, and secure. They’re also available for dogs of all sizes. However, they’re costlier.
Full-Body Dog Diapers
If your dog is too big or too small or struggles to keep her diaper on, you can consider Full-Body diapers. From small to extra-large, these diapers come in a lot of different sizes. These are extremely comfortable & absorbent, but are way costlier than reusable diapers.
How to prevent Pregnancy during Heat?
If you observe that your female dog is in heat or about to go into heat & you don’t want her to get pregnant, be wary of these special considerations. Some simple observations & steps can greatly reduce the risk of an unwanted pregnancy & aggressive interactions with males.
- Having your female dog spayed is the most reliable, common & effective form of birth control. This essentially means that your dog’s uterus & ovaries will be removed. However, this procedure is permanent & irreversible.
- Male dogs can sniff out the special pheromones in vaginal and urinary secretions by your female dog during heat from far away. Keep her away from any males during walks & potty breaks.
- Male dogs can also get aggressive, territorial or try to dominate others around them when they see a female in heat around them. Be vigilant of such encounters while going out.
- Even if she’s stopped bleeding doesn’t always mean that her cycle is over. She may be in a phase where she’s extra fertile and may produce unnoticeable discharge.
- Dog diapers & Body Wraps are some do-it-yourself & non-permanent ways to prevent pregnancy. But, make sure that they’re leakproof, absorbent, comfortable & most importantly, changed frequently.
- Do not frequent dog parks or other dog-populated areas while your dog is in heat.
The Importance of Spaying Your Female Dog
Spaying or surgical sterilization of a dog’s reproductive organs is a common & efficient method of preventing unwanted pregnancies. This is also known as “Ovariohysterectomy”. Some benefits of spaying can be reduced health risks, gentler behaviour & population control. A litter of roly-poly, cute pups can be supercute but the cost of raising a pet can be surprisingly high.
Additionally, make sure to consult your vet about proper nutrition, pre & post-surgery measures. Immediately after getting spayed, a dog can undergo some temporary & permanent in her behaviour, metabolism & physiology, the right nutrition & care can play a pivotal role in recovery & better overall health.
Now there is no need to wonder if you can understand it & take measures to make your female dog comfortable & prevent any unwanted pregnancies. Knowing your dog’s reproductive cycle will certainly help you know what to expect when she goes into heat, how to make her feel comfortable, the importance of positive reinforcement & the value of spaying.