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Home HEALTH CARE How to Comfort a Dog in Heat

How to Comfort a Dog in Heat

by Bella Woof

Intact (unspayed) female dogs typically have two heat cycles per year, driven by rising and falling levels of estrogen and progesterone. These changes in hormone levels can change how your dog feels physically and emotionally. In the days leading up to the start of her heat cycle, a female dog may start to act skittish and startle easily. She may start to act clingy and always want to have you in sight. Her appetite may decrease and she may become less active.

Comfort a dog in heat by giving your dog a little extra attention during her heat cycle. Make sure she continues to eat but don’t force her to eat more than she wants. Let her sleep if she needs it and keep noisy distractions to a minimum.

Once her heat cycle has started, your dog will begin spotting blood from her vulva. She may spend a lot of time licking her vulva to keep that area clean. Dogs with thick fur may require your assistance with keeping the fur around the vulva free of discharge.

You can help support her by making sure that her bedding is always clean. Consider laying an absorbent pad (like a pee pad) on top of her bedding to absorb discharge from her vulva. Dogs who experience moderate to heavy discharge may benefit from wearing a sanitary diaper until the amount of discharge begins to decrease.

How to prevent unwanted pregnancy during your dog’s heat cycle

A dog’s heat cycle typically lasts about two to three weeks. There are two phases to a dog’s heat cycle. Intact male dogs will be attracted to her during both phases, but she will become receptive to mating and can become pregnant during the second phase.

If you do not want your dog to become pregnant, do not leave her unattended outside during the second phase of her heat cycle. Avoid off-leash walks and dog parks. And most importantly, do not let her out in the fenced-in yard without direct supervision. A fence is no match for an intact male dog who wants to mate with your female dog!

Since her outdoor activities will likely be curtailed during her heat cycle to prevent mating, she will need additional indoor activities to keep her occupied. Consider getting her an interactive puzzle toy to provide her with both mental stimulation and physical activity. Play indoor games of fetch or hide training treats inside boxes or blocks that she can search for and find.

The best way to provide comfort to a dog in heat is to not have her go through a heat cycle at all! Having your dog spayed eliminates the risk of developing pyometra (a life-threatening infection of the uterus) and minimizes the risk of developing mammary cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about the best time to spay your dog.

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