Nothing lures in a pack of male dogs like a female in heat.
Unfortunately, this can also make things difficult for you on morning walks and increase the risk of an accidental pregnancy.
So what steps can you take to hide your dog’s odor without locking them up?
According to our research, these are the 12 best ways to mask the scent of a dog in heat:
1. Use menthol spray or balm
Probably the easiest and most effective way to mask your dog’s scent is to apply some menthol on their body. For one, dogs absolutely hate the smell of menthol. And second, you can find a bunch of menthol products (sprays, lotions, balms) in almost any pet shop.
All you have to do is rub/spray some of the menthol between their shoulders and on their tail. The strong smell will automatically cover up your dog’s odor and keep male canines at a distance.
You can also apply some menthol on your dog before taking them out for a walk. Just be careful not to apply it on broken skin or any area that your dog can lick, as menthol can cause digestive upset if consumed.
2. Clean your dog’s privates frequently
During their heat cycles, female dogs will have a discharge that can spread their scent all over the place. But by cleaning up their private parts, you can both mask their odor and prevent bacterial infections.
We recommend using a scented shampoo made specifically for dogs to wash the privates. Also, make sure the shampoo is pH balanced as harsh chemicals can irritate the delicate skin on those areas.
First, take your dog to the bathroom and pour some warm water over their rear end. Gently shampoo the area while wearing a glove and remove any visible residue on their fur. Then, rinse the area with water and dry it with a towel.
Most dogs will naturally be grumpy during their heat cycles and protest when being washed. If you have trouble with the first method, you can use dog grooming wipes to clean their private parts instead. Using wipes is more convenient and saves time compared to washing and drying your dog 2 to 3 times a day.
3. Try doggy colognes and perfumes
This one is a no-brainer. A perfume and cologne is the perfect solution for covering bad odor or the scent of a female dog in heat. You can find numerous dog-exclusive perfumes in pet shops and online stores that are free of alcohol and parabens (ethanol is toxic to dogs, if you didn’t know).
Some of them also contain aloe vera and vitamins that can nourish your dog’s skin and make their coat healthier. Just pick one that smells good to you and gently spray it over your dog’s body from a distance of 6-8 inches, especially on their tail area.
Although a perfume or cologne won’t completely mask your female dog’s odor, it will prevent every dog in your neighborhood from going haywire. Plus, it never hurts to have your dog smell like fresh lavender!
4. Add chlorophyll to your dog’s water
Dog owners use a nifty trick that greatly reduces the scent of female dogs in heat. They add chlorophyll to their water. Chlorophyll is a natural deodorant that travels through the body and absorbs all bad odors from the urine of canines.
Since breeders typically keep both genders together, it is necessary to use chlorophyll to make the heat scent undetectable and prevent unwanted pregnancies. Fortunately, this tip can be implemented by any owner as chlorophyll is available in almost every pet shop.
You can feed your dog chlorophyll with their food or water. Simply buy some tablets from your local pet store, measure the required dosage, and crumble them into your dog’s regular meals. Or, you could get chlorophyll in liquid form and mix it into your pup’s water.
To derive the most effectiveness from chlorophyll, it is necessary to start dosing your dog a few weeks before their heat cycle begins. This will give the herb enough time to soak all pheromones from your dog’s urine and make the heat scent almost transparent. Moreover, chlorophyll is also known to have several other health benefits such as:
- Helps in detoxifying the body
- Fights infections
- Reduces the risk of cancer
- Heals wounds quicker
- Promotes digestive health
- Boosts the immune system
5. Apply essential oils
We’re all familiar with the therapeutic benefits of essential oils. Turns out, they are also quite effective at masking the scent of dogs in heat. The powerful aroma of essential oils travels quite far and can distract other dogs from the odor of your female pup.
Here are some of the safest essential oils you can purchase for dogs that can help you mask their odor:
Note that these essential oils should never be used in their pure form and must be diluted before application. In this case, you can use olive, avocado, or coconut oil. You also don’t want your dog to ingest the essential oil, so only apply it on areas that they can’t reach, such as the back of their neck.
There are also certain essential oils that can be dangerous or even toxic for canines. Try to purchase pet-safe options and avoid the following oils in all cases:
- Ylang ylang
- Sweet birch
6. Regularly bathe your dog
No dog likes to be bathed. But a few extra showers can be worthwhile when it comes to limiting your dog’s scent. It can help get rid of any discharge that would otherwise get stuck in your pup’s coat and spread pheromones all around.
Try using a scented shampoo as a double-action solution to cover your dog’s natural odor. Most vets recommend bathing dogs once every month, but you can safely give them a quick shower 2 to 3 times a month if they don’t suffer from dry skin or coat problems.
7. Spray enzymatic odor removers around the house
Discharges can become a big problem during a dog’s heat cycle. It can leave tough stains on furniture and emit pheromones that attract male dogs from afar. But with an enzymatic cleaner, you can kill two birds with one stone.
Spraying some on urine/discharge spots will not only make it easier to remove the stain, but it will also break down the odor molecules. If you own both male and female dogs, we highly recommend using enzymatic cleaners to avoid triggering the male pooch.
8. Spray ammonia in your yard
When your dog goes to pee in the yard, they can leave behind their heat scent, which will be detected by other dogs in your neighborhood. And the last thing you want is to have strays roaming in your garden or triggering every male in a mile’s radius.
Luckily, you can always use ammonia in these situations. The strong odor of ammonia will mask nearly all of the pheromones from your dog’s pee. Not to mention, it will also protect your pup from any curious males that might stray into your home.
9. Avoid taking your dog for walks
When in heat, female dogs emit a pheromone that other canines can detect from up to five miles away! Any male dog that gets a whiff of this scent will become aggressive, agitated, and whine loudly.
Moreover, if they fail to mate, the male dog will become stressed and might even lose their appetite. That’s why it is recommended to keep your dog at home during their heat cycle. Not only will it spare other owners from worry, but it will also prevent any male dog from accidentally mating with your female pooch.
10. Put diapers to catch discharge
Cleaning up after your dog’s discharge is crucial if you don’t want to ruin your carpet or spread their odor. Fortunately, there are several doggy diaper options in the market designed specifically for this purpose.
Make sure that you’re buying the right size and change it regularly after they become soiled. It’s also a good idea to keep the diaper on when taking your dog for walks to prevent accidental mating.
How female dog heat cycles work
In simple words, a heat cycle is the pet-equivalent of periods. It is also referred to as ‘Estrus’ and first occurs when a female dog reaches puberty. During this time, your dog will undergo several body changes and make it known to other males that she is ready to become pregnant.
Owners must take precautionary measures during this period to avoid accidental pregnancy. Your pup will also need extra love and care so they can pass through the cycle easily.
When do dogs experience their first heat cycle?
Most female dogs will reach puberty and experience their first heat cycle at 6 months. But for smaller breeds, this figure can be lower. Similarly, large and giant breeds will have their first estrus cycle later, somewhere around 18 to 24 months of age.
Luckily, dogs don’t go through heat every month as humans do. Most canines will experience just two cycles in a year depending on their size. If you have a smaller dog, they might have estrus thrice a year, while a larger dog will be in heat just once a year.
You can expect each heat cycle to last anywhere around 16 to 18 days. Again, this range can vary depending on the size and breed of your dog.
Signs of heat cycle in dogs
When dogs enter a heat cycle, they display several signs and symptoms hinting they are in season. Probably the first one you will notice is the bloody discharge. This discharge will contain more blood in the first few stages, but will become lighter in color as the cycle progresses. You might also notice that your dog’s vulva has become red and swollen
Since females are motivated to mate during heat, they will be giving hints to other canines. One of the ways they do this is through peeing. The pee of a female dog in estrus contains pheromones that signal she is ready to get pregnant can only be detected by other dogs.
Because dogs possess an incredible sense of smell, they can smell these pheromones from up to five miles away! If you take your female out for walks during their cycle, you will also notice them being overly friendly with other males. Keep an eye on your dog during this period and restrict their outdoor access if you want to avoid pregnancy.
Do female dogs stop having heat cycles?
Unlike humans, canines do not reach menopause. They will remain fertile and continue to have heat cycles till death. But there is one way to put an end to this situation for good; get your dog spayed.
In a spay operation, the ovaries and uterus of a female dog are removed to sterilize them for life. As bad as it sounds, the operation has a very high success rate and is known to increase the lifespan of dogs.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Since your dog will no longer have heat cycles, they also won’t have to experience any symptoms or behavior changes. You won’t have to worry about masking your dog’s scent, protecting them from accidental pregnancy, or cleaning up after their discharges.
According to research, spaying dogs also reduces their risk of developing certain diseases, such as:
- Pyometra (Urine infection)
- Breast cancer
- Uterine or ovarian cancer
Veterinarians recommend getting your dog spayed before they have their first heat cycle, which is around 6 to 7 months of age. The operation is conducted by a surgeon under general anesthesia and requires a healing time of 5 to 10 days on average.
Are neutered dogs attracted to females in heat?
Yes, a neutered dog will still be attracted to a female in heat and be able to mate with her. But due to their lower testosterone level, most will not engage or behave as aggressively as a non-neutered dog.
Do dogs get period cramps?
No, female dogs don’t get period cramps like humans. However, they will face some discomfort due to the discharge and seek more attention from their owners. If your pup is crying excessively during their heat cycle and seems to be in pain, it’s best to get them checked by a vet.
Should dogs have puppies before being spayed?
There is a common misbelief that having at least one litter before being spayed will make a female dog calmer. However, there is no scientific proof or evidence of this phenomenon, and most vets recommend spaying females before their first heat cycle.
How to tell if your female dog is pregnant?
If your female mated during their heat cycle, they will begin to lose their appetite in the two weeks that follow. Moreover, their nipples might also become swollen and they will sleep more than usual.