How to Care For a Female Dog in Heat
Vets call it estrus but we ordinary pet parents and pet lovers call it “heat”. This is a period in a pet’s life when it is more receptive and readier to mate. There are behavioral changes in your dog that you may not have anticipated. There may also be bleeding from the dog’s intimate body part. For most newbie pet parents, the estrus in a dog’s life can bring a lot of anxiety. But it doesn’t have to be; all you need is to arm yourself with the right knowledge so you can care for a female dog that is in heat a lot better.
Keep Your Dog Calm
The estrus in dogs is synonymous to the ovulation period in human females. During this stage, there are several hormonal changes that can make the individual feel very anxious or “not herself”. The same is true with a dog in heat. While it is easy to manage some of the physical symptoms of estrus in dogs, it is the mood changes and anxiety that can be quite worrying for many pet parents. So, how to calm a dog in heat? Try the following:
Extra Attention Won’t Hurt
If this is your dog’s first time to have estrus, you can expect the experience to be very overwhelming for your pet. It can be very anxious, sometimes shattered. It is clear that it is no longer a puppy, but is already making the transition towards adulthood. Hence, its mood may swing a lot around this time. One day it may be happy and then sad the next. What your dog needs is some extra loving and attention from you. It needs your reassurance that everything will be okay.
Adhere to More Frequent yet Shorter Exercises
It may look counterproductive but shortening the exercise sessions of your dog can help put it in a calm state a lot faster. However, to compensate for the shortened exercise time, you will have to do it more frequently. For instance, if you’ve been walking your dog once a day for 30 to 60 minutes, you can adopt a 10-minute walk, 3 times a day. Make it brisk so that your dog will tire a lot faster. This can send it to slumberland faster, too.
Give Interactive Dog Toys and Dog Chews
If you have someone asking you how to calm a dog in heat, then you may want to suggest giving dog chews and interactive dog toys. Dog chews can take your dog’s mind off whatever is making it anxious. This way it is able to relax. The same is true with interactive toys. These are canine playthings that can stimulate your pet’s cognitive skills. This is another way of keeping its mind busy and not on its estrus. Of course, if you can play several games with your pet, it would be better.
Create a Calming Atmosphere
After all the exercises, extra attention, and games, your dog may still need a calming environment. It is important to recognize that the hormonal changes that occur with estrus can make the dog cranky. What may be soft music before can already be an annoying noise now. Hence, turn down the volume of your sound system or TV. Ask your children to lower their voices whenever playing. It is also wise to place the dog’s bed in an area where there’s peace and quiet.
Talk to Your Vet about Antianxiety Medications for Dogs
If these methods don’t work, you can try asking your veterinarian if he can prescribe an antianxiety medication for your pet. This will help calm down your dog. Alternative methods will be to use calming aids. There are those that use natural herbal remedies. What you have to remember is to ask your vet about these products.
Make Sure Your Dog is Still Able to Eat
A female dog in heat that isn’t eating is one of the greatest concerns of newbie dog owners. It is quite understandable that pet parents will feel concerned. Loss of appetite means the dog is not getting the energy and nutrients that it needs. And since it may also bleed during this period, then all the more that it needs to eat.
This is normal. The sudden rush of hormones in the dog’s body puts emphasis on mating or reproduction, more than its other physiological needs. This is more evident in dogs that are undergoing estrus for the very first time.
Estrus or not, we all know how important nutrition is. Hence, it is crucial to look for ways to help entice your female dog to eat again. Here are a few ways you can address a female dog in heat not eating.
Keep a Diary of its Food Intake
It is important to have an idea of your pet’s food intake. As much as possible, make a diary of its food intake every meal, every day. There is a possibility that your dog is still eating the same amount of food. The only difference is that it eats more during one meal and less at others. Hence, your records-keeping should give you an idea if your dog is not eating as it’s supposed to.
Increase the Giving of Treats
Dog treats taste more delicious than conventional dog kibbles. You may want to give your pet more dog treats instead of its ordinary meal. However, it is crucial to take note of the calorie content of each treat. Canine treats often contain more calories than kibbles. This is on a per-piece basis. That is why it is important to keep a log or a diary of your pet’s food intake. This way, you will know how much calories your dog is not getting from its regular food. You can then replace this with the commensurate calories from the dog treats.
Consider Cooking Food for Your Dog
Dog food doesn’t taste palatable. Give your dog high-quality raw food. If you are averse to such feeding practice, then cook a meal for the dog. There are recipes online that you can try. Keep in mind to steer clear of ingredients that are dangerous or risky to pets. Garlic and onion are two of the very common ingredients you should never feed to your pet.
Manage Bleeding from Your Pet’s Vulva
The estrus cycle of a dog varies from breed to breed and from dog to dog. In general, each cycle can last about 4 to 6 months. The first stage features the presence of vaginal discharge. They call this stage “proestrus”. The period of bleeding can last anywhere from 4 to 20 days, with 10 days being the average. Hence, when someone asks you how long does a dog in heat bleed, you already know what to say.
It is also important to realize that there are dogs that people call as “silent heaters”. These are dogs that do not show any blood from their vulva. Determining estrus can, thus, be quite challenging. One has to rely on the behavioral changes that the dog in heat might display.
Going back, since the dog will be discharging blood from its vagina, it is important to keep this clean. The dog will try to lick it in an attempt to clean its vulva. You can help in the cleaning by wiping the body part with pet-approved wet wipes.
A more important action from your part will be to protect your home from these bloody discharges. Putting on a diaper on your pet’s genitals can help absorb the blood into the absorbent core of the diaper. If you allow your pet to stay on your couch or bed, you may have to put a thick towel as a liner on these pieces of furniture. Make sure that you stay vigilant about these blood drops as they can be open invitation for male dogs in the neighborhood to “stick around”.
Keep Your Dog Indoors
If you do not have any intention of having your female dog become pregnant, then you should keep it indoors. Do not let it to go outdoors. The current recommendation is to keep the female dog away from unneutered or still-intact males for up to 4 weeks. What this means is that the female dog should never visit the dog park or any other public place where it can come in contact with an intact male dog.
We already know the answer to the question how long does a dog in heat bleed? But what would be a grave mistake is to think that once the bleeding is over, your dog is already safe. Far from it.
You see, in the proestrus stage, your dog will be bleeding as a means of signaling male dogs that it will be ready soon. On the proestrus stage, the dog may be bleeding, but it is not yet ready to mate.
As the bloody discharge starts to fade or subside, the dog enters the actual estrus phase. You will notice the discharge to turn from bright or dark red to something pinkish. It is also possible that the swelling of the dog’s vulva will somehow decrease. In light of such changes, many people think that the dog is now “safe”. Should it come in contact with an intact male dog, it will not get pregnant.
It is quite the opposite, in reality. The few days after the proestrus or bleeding stage are the estrus stage. We mentioned this is that time when the dog is most fertile. If it gets in contact with an intact male dog, then it can get pregnant.
This is the reason why the female dog should always be kept indoors and away from male dogs for at least a month from its first day of proestrus.
If you do have to bring your pet outdoors, make sure to observe the following tips:
Always Walk On-leash
Female dogs in heat should always walk on a leash. Regardless of how well-trained your dog can be, there is no way you can go against the natural instinct to procreate. The need to “mate” is strong in dogs. You may choose not to walk them but they also can benefit from the exercise. As such, it is always best to put your pet on a leash before taking it out for its usual walk.
Never leave your pet alone even if this is in your backyard. Like we said, the instinct to procreate is strong in dogs. They will always try to find a way to get to the other side of the fence where an intact male dog is “waiting”. Some breeds of dogs are famous for scaling fences while others can jump an 8-foot high perimeter fence. Others have a knack for digging while others are so cunning they can “unlock” and open the main gate. So, always supervise your pet.
Let Your Dog Wear Diapers or Doggie Pants
Your female dog may no longer be bleeding but it will still be releasing chemicals into the air. You will not smell these pheromones but male dogs can. They can smell such substances from up to a mile away. These are an open invitation for these male dogs to come “visit” your female dog. Putting diapers or doggie pants on your pet dog’s bottom can help cover its vulva. It will not eliminate the scent, but it sure can help reduce the intensity.
Put Menthol on Your Dog’s Tail
A very unusual yet effective way to mask the scent of your dog in heat is by using menthol. Apply a small amount of menthol on the tip of your pet’s tail. As it wags its tail, the scent from its “heat” gets masked by the scent of the menthol. Unfortunately, this only works if the male dog is far away from the female dog. The good news is that there are now scent concealers you can buy from pet stores.
If a female dog in heat is causing a lot of distress on your part, there is one very good solution for it. Spay your dog at the most appropriate time. And if you have male dogs in the household, then have them neutered, too.