Once your female dog reaches sexual maturity, she’ll go into “heat” every six months for the rest of her life. Keeping female dogs comfortable when they go into heat is an important part of having an unaltered female dog.
To help you make things easier for your dog, we’re sharing the best home remedies for dogs in heat. Read on to learn more about canine heat cycles.
What Happens To Dogs in Heat?
To better help your dog in heat, you need to understand what’s going on in its body. Hormonal changes occur during estrus (heat), stemming from the pituitary gland in the brain.
This gland regulates hormones throughout the body. The pituitary gland starts working differently during heat and throws your dog’s entire endocrine system out of whack. The endocrine system helps regulate metabolism levels, energy levels, and mood. Because the gland starts working differently, your dog will feel a rush of strange feelings and emotions.
Chances are, your dog is confused, scared, and anxious. Many female dogs start whining during heat because of their emotions, possibly leading to aggressive and destructive behavior.
They will also start acting out and being noisy, making it seem like you have someone else’s dog in your home!
Read on to learn what you can do to help your dog in heat.
Remedies For Dogs In Heat
1 .Pain Relief
Dogs in heat often experience nausea, cramping, and pain during ovulation. Using natural pain relief for dogs in heat will relieve her discomfort. Plus, you should ensure she has a cozy bed to sleep in and place a heating pad inside to help with her pain.
Don’t give your dog over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or most non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, which could be harmful and toxic to dogs. If you explain your dog’s symptoms, your vet may have some helpful product suggestions to relax her and relieve her symptoms. Most importantly, always speak with your vet to ensure that you are using a pet-safe pain reliever with your dog.
2. Contain Your Dog
Dogs in heat only have one thing on their minds, mating. You can prevent mating by keeping dogs contained in your home or a fenced yard. You’ll also need to avoid dog parks and dog daycare.
Before heading out your door, remember to leash your dog to prevent it from escaping. Additionally, don’t leave windows or doors open in the home because your dog’s more likely to try to make a quick getaway while it’s in heat.
3. Use Dog Diapers
Because dogs menstruate and bleed while in heat, you’ll need to make them wear dog period diapers preventing blood stains and urine marks within the home. A dog’s heat cycle can last between two to four weeks and occurs every six months.
When your dog is in heat, her bleeding may vary from light to heavy. To get your dog to accept wearing diapers, you need to train them using positive reinforcement. And remember to change the diaper often to keep her clean.
4. Spend Quality Time
The best home remedy for dogs in heat is to spend time with them. Play some fun games like fetch or hide-and-seek indoors with her to keep her mind occupied. You can also provide her with some puzzle toys to keep her busy and less likely to mate.
Your dog may also be quite affectionate while in heat, so sit with her and enjoy quality time together. Petting her may help relax her and help her bond with you, as can snuggling up with a good book and your pup.
5. Spay Your Dog
While home remedies will keep your dog comfortable during her heat cycle, the best way to stop the heat cycle is to get her spayed. You can usually spay a dog at eight weeks or older, but speak with your veterinarian to determine when is right for your dog.
Spaying will ensure that you won’t have to deal with a dog who wants to escape while in heat and unwanted litters of puppies.
Your vet can perform two spay procedures on dogs: ovariohysterectomy (OVH) and ovariectomy (OVE).
So, what’s the difference between the two? An ovariohysterectomy involves the removal of the uterus and ovaries. With an ovariectomy, the vet only removes the ovaries.
OVE is more common than OVH. However, experts once believed that OVH protected dogs from reproductive diseases like pyometra and cancer. And leaving the uterus intact increases the chances of uterine tumors.
However, a 2014 study discovered that uterine tumors in spayed animals are rare, and up to 95% of them are benign. The reason is that ovarian hormones often cause uterine diseases, and dogs have a much smaller chance of developing the disease without the ovaries.
OVE surgery is also less invasive and has faster recovery times. Your vet will advise you on which procedure is better for your dog.
6. Non-surgical Spaying options
If spaying is not an option for your dog due to a medical condition, megestrol acetate can delay or prevent heat cycles. Other medications preventing or suppressing heat cycles include mibolerone and proligestone, but these aren’t available in the US.
Megestrol acetate is available in liquid and pill form. Before starting this medication, your dog will have to undergo:
- A heat cycle history analysis
- Physical exam
- Breast cancer screening
- vaginal smear
Experts suggest that megestrol acetate has a 92% success rate in delaying the heat cycles of dogs.
Note: Don’t give megestrol acetate to dogs who haven’t experienced their first heat cycle. Also, don’t breed female dogs within 30 days of completing their megestrol acetate regimen.
Side effects of megestrol acetate are very common and may include:
- Weight gain
- Breast tumors
- Behavior changes
- Adrenal gland suppression
- Increased thirst
- Uterine infections
Dogs taking this medication need constant monitoring due to the potential side effect. Your vet will check your dog’s blood sugar levels, weight, liver function, and reproductive health.
7. Provide Plenty of Exercise Time
Female dogs have a lot of pent-up energy when they’re in heat. They need to expend that energy, so why not take charge and give your dog some exercise?
You can tire her out quickly by going for a run or vigorous play session in the backyard to help her fall asleep, which leaves less time for misbehavior.
8. Provide Toys and Treats
Toys are a nice way to keep your dog busy. While a ball or doll may work for a few minutes, the best option is a toy designed to provide mental stimulation.
Puzzle toys or toys that hold hidden treats can keep your dog occupied for hours. Play will keep your dog distracted and give it mental stimulation as well. Treats can also do the same thing. Lasting treats, such as antlers, take several hours to eat fully.
9. Make Your Home A Comfortable Place to Rest
Don’t assume that your dog will stay relaxed during its heat season. Even if it doesn’t normally react to loud noises, it may do so when hormones are raging.
You don’t need to keep your house completely silent, but you should prevent blaring noises that could scare your dog. It’s best to avoid loud televisions and alarms.
It’s also a nice idea to create a safe space for your dog. If she’s crate trained, she probably already has a place to settle down.
You may want to cover the crate with a blanket to create a dark hiding place. Alternatively, a cozy bed may work as well.
10. Utilize Calming Products
There are many sprays on the market to help relax your dog. Most of them contain herbs, essential oils, and pheromones to promote a calming sense. Sometimes, it takes a few tries to find a suitable spray for your dog.
Once you find it, spray it in your home, paying close attention to your dog’s bed or crate. You should never apply the products to your dog directly, as this could cause more anxiety.
11. Mask Her Scent
Male dogs can easily sense a female in heat. By masking her scent, you avoid alerting male dogs and stop them from following you outside your house.
Apply some menthol oil to the tip of your dog’s tail. The strong smell will mask your female’s scent. There are many scent-erasing sprays on the market as well. They use menthol and other ingredients to ensure that your dog remains undetected.
Dealing with a dog in heat can be a challenging task. It’s a very confusing time for both of you. Keep these remedies in mind. All dogs are different, so you might need to try a couple of techniques until you find a routine that works for your dog.
Once you find it, you can provide the relief and comfort your dog desperately needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do male dogs go into heat?
No, male dogs cannot go into heat.
What is a dog heat cycle?
The dog’s heat cycle is a biological event where a female dog is very receptive to mating. It lasts between two and four weeks, and a female dog will experience this every six months. A dog in heat may display strange personality and physiological changes throughout the cycle.
The dog heat cycle includes four different stages:
The proestrus stage: This is the first stage that begins with the swelling of the vulva. It can last anywhere from two to 17 days. A female dog in the proestrus stage is resistant to male company and may show changes in appetite, personality, and more frequent tail tucking.
The estrus stage: Your dog will begin to follow her breeding instinct in the estrus stage of the heat cycle. Her ovaries release eggs, and she is the most fertile. She is also willing to accept male attention in this stage. And will raise her rear toward male dogs.
The diestrus stage: In this stage, the dog’s heat cycle starts to end. If a dog entering this is pregnant, this stage will last until the first cycle after she gives birth. In this stage, dogs usually flirt less, and their swelling decreases gradually.
The anestrus stage: This stage of the dog’s heat cycle lasts the longest, anywhere between 100 and 160 days. It is also called the resting stage. The dog’s heat cycle begins again after this stage.
How often are female dogs in heat?
Female dogs will go into heat once every six months, but the dog’s breed size may affect the frequency of the cycle. For example, a smaller dog may go into heat more often than a larger dog and a dog’s heat cycle.
When do female dogs first start a heat cycle?
A female dog can start her first heat cycle as early as six months, but this can vary with breed.
She will continue to experience heat cycles throughout her life up until death, but the time between each cycle will increase with age. Female dogs don’t experience menopause.
How to tell if a female dog is in heat?
It’s a great idea to learn about the signs of a dog entering its heat cycle. Some common symptoms of a dog entering heat include:
Frequent urination is one of the most common signs of a dog entering heat, especially if they’re urinating in the house.
Vaginal bleeding or discharges: Dogs entering heat may lightly discharge or bleed from their vagina while entering the proestrus stage. The bleeding will grow heavier as they enter the estrus stage.
Paying attention to male dogs: If a female dog in heat notices a male dog, she’ll give him extra attention and expose her rear while moving her tail out of the way.
Excessive genital licking: A female dog in heat will excessively lick her genital area.
Aggressive behavior: A female dog in heat is secreting many hormones so that she may exhibit unusually aggressive behavior.
Can female dogs be spayed while in heat?
Yes, but vets advise against it. Because blood flow to the ovaries increases when your dog is in heat, the risk of hemorrhage increases, you may want to wait until a few months after the heat cycle has ended.