When adopting a female dog, it’s very important to identify and know her physical processes. Especially if she is not spayed, you will need to get acquainted with dogs’ periods: their symptoms, duration, and different phases.
Everything you need to know about dogs' periods
Dogs get periods when they reach maturity, approximately at 6 months of age. Usually, depending on the dog’s size, female dogs get periods every 6 months. However, small dogs might go into heat 3 or 4 times a year and larger dogs only once a year.
Periods last approximately 2 or 3 weeks, depending on each dog. Even though, just as humans, dogs also bleed, bleeding is not that significant, and can even go unnoticed. Some pet parents diaper their dogs, but it is not always necessary. However, there are other heat symptoms you can pay attention to:
- Bleeding from the vulva (it can be mild and go unnoticed).
- Urinating more often.
- Swollen vulva.
- Behavioral changes towards male dogs: roaming and mounting.
- Licking the genital area
What should I do while my dog is in heat?
Your dog’s first heat can be nerve-racking and a bit confusing if you don’t have all the information about how the cycle works. Here are some recommendations you can follow:
Get her diapers: depending on the volume of your dog’s discharge, you may want to buy some diapers in order to avoid blood spots all over your house. They usually use 1 per day.
Never walk her without a leash: dogs in heat can have very unpredictable behavior, so even if she is used to walking by herself, don’t let her off her leash while she is in heat.
Consider spaying her after her heat is over: Spaying can have many health benefits for dogs, and can also help reduce unwanted offspring. You can read more about it in our blog about Neutering.
Do they get cramps during their periods?
Yes, dogs can experience cramps when they have their period, and they can even feel a bit uncomfortable. However, the pain is usually not that intense.
4 stages of dogs’ heat
Proestrus: This is the start of the heat cycle, when dogs are getting ready to mate. You’ll notice your pup will experience some aggressive behavior towards other dogs and some clinginess towards her owners. Also, it is the beginning of the vaginal discharge. You might also notice some appetite changes (increase or decrease), and tail tucking between her legs. This stage will last an average of 9 days, but it can vary between 5 and 17 days approximately.
Estrus: During this stage, vaginal discharge will continue, only now a little pinker. This is the actual 'heat' and your pup will start releasing eggs for fertilization. She will have an urge to go out more often and you will notice her behavior towards male dogs will change: she will be more receptive and start approaching them. Also, your female dog will urinate more often and will do it in order to mark the territory. This period will last between 3 to 21 days on average.
Diestrus: This is the stage that occurs after heat or estrus itself and it usually lasts between 60 and 90 days. During this stage, your dog’s body will stop bleeding, her vulva will return to normal size, and her attitude towards males will change, meaning that the dog is no longer fertile. If during estrus, the dog got pregnant, then diestrus will last from the end of estrus to the birth of puppies.
- Anestrus: A.k.a the resting stage, this period is characterized by the lack of hormonal activity. It lasts between 100 and 150 days, until dogs' heat cycle begins again.