Should I Take My Dog Out If She’S On Her Period?

What is a dog’s heat cycle?

A dog’s heat cycle occurs regularly throughout their fertile years and is split into four distinct stages: proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus (Cornell, East Central Veterinary).

During proestrus, estrogen levels rise and dogs may attract male suitors. However, they are not ready for breeding at this point. Vaginal bleeding may occur during this stage. Estrus is when the female dog is fertile and can get pregnant. Typically this stage lasts about 9 days. Diestrus is when progesterone levels increase if no pregnancy has occurred, and the female dog will no longer allow breeding. Anestrus is a resting period when the female dog is not sexually receptive (Cornell).

The most fertile period is generally within the first 5 days of estrus, when bleeding has subsided. However, some dogs can get pregnant for up to 9 days into this period (East Central Veterinary).

Vaginal bleeding tends to occur mostly during the proestrus and estrus stages. The amount can range from light spotting to heavy discharge. Every dog’s cycle is unique in terms of exact timing and length.

Is it safe to take a dog out during her heat?

Taking a dog outside during her heat cycle does come with some risks that owners should be aware of. The most notable risk is that the strong scent of a female dog in heat can attract unwanted male dog attention (Source: This poses the risk of your female getting pregnant if an intact male mounts her.

However, it is still possible to safely take a dog out during this time. Precautions should be taken to minimize risks and make walks pleasant for you and your pooch. The most important precaution is keeping your dog leashed at all times when outside, even in familiar areas she’s usually allowed off-leash (Source: It’s also best to avoid dog parks or areas with lots of traffic from intact male dogs.

With proper precautions, most female dogs can still get adequate and safe exercise outside during their heat cycles. But owners should be vigilant and prepared to fend off male dogs if needed.

How can I manage my dog’s heat at home?

When your dog is in heat, it’s a good idea to contain her when you can’t supervise directly. Use a crate or small room to limit access to furniture and carpeting that could get soiled with blood. Be prepared for potty training accidents by keeping pee pads handy and consider using dog diapers or panties to catch any leakage.

You’ll also want to allow more frequent potty breaks during your dog’s heat. Take your dog out to her potty spot more often and be patient if housetraining regresses temporarily. Place pee pads by the door or in spots where your dog tends to go.

Your dog’s behavior may change during her heat cycle too. She may become more affectionate and clingy due to hormonal changes. Be prepared for increased licking or mounting, nesting behaviors like digging or burrowing, decreased appetite, and restlessness. Stay calm and try to maintain normal routines as much as possible.

What heat symptoms may need veterinary attention?

While most symptoms of a dog’s heat cycle are normal, there are some signs that may indicate an underlying health issue requiring veterinary care. These include:

  • Lethargy or loss of appetite – A dog in heat is usually more energetic and may eat more, so lethargy or disinterest in food could signal illness.

  • Vomiting or diarrhea – This indicates gastrointestinal issues that need medical attention.

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge – Bleeding longer than 21 days or discharge that is green, yellow, or foul-smelling could point to infection.

  • Swollen and painful abdomen – This may be a sign of uterine infection called pyometra, which is a medical emergency.

  • Difficulty urinating – Straining or inability to urinate could indicate a urinary tract infection.

It’s important to monitor your dog’s heat cycle and watch for any abnormal discharge, which may contain pus, be a strange color, or have a foul odor. Any of these symptoms in heat warrant an urgent vet visit to diagnose and treat any potential illness.

How long do dogs bleed while in heat?

A dog’s heat cycle lasts about 21 days on average. However, a dog only bleeds during the proestrus stage, which comprises about 9 days of the full 21 day cycle. Most dogs will bleed for around 7-10 days, though the bleeding duration can vary from 4 to 13 days. According to the Kennel Club, larger dogs typically bleed more than smaller breeds. But the amount and length of bleeding can vary considerably between individual dogs. Webmd states that “your dog will only bleed for around half of the total cycle, usually 7 to 10 days.” Ultimately every dog is different, so it’s essential to monitor your dog’s unique cycle.

Some key points on the expected bleeding timeline:

  • Bleeding tends to last 4-13 days
  • Most dogs bleed for 7-10 days
  • Larger dogs may bleed longer than smaller breeds
  • Monitor your individual dog’s cycle

How often do dogs go into heat?

Dogs typically experience heat cycles around every 6-8 months. However, there is some natural variation between breeds and individual dogs. Smaller breeds may go into heat more frequently, as often as 3-4 times a year. Larger breeds tend to go into heat less often, closer to once a year.

For most dogs, the first heat cycle occurs between 6-24 months of age. The intervals between heat cycles tend to shorten as dogs get older. So while a young dog might go into heat once a year, an older dog may go into heat twice a year.

On average, it takes most dogs about 18-24 months to develop a regular heat cycle. But even then, their cycles may vary in length and timing. It’s important to track your individual dog’s cycles and note any changes over time. If you notice significant deviations from normal, consult your veterinarian.

Understanding the typical frequency of heat cycles in dogs can help owners prepare for this normal part of dog ownership. Expect your adult dog to go into heat about 1-2 times per year. But keep an eye out for any concerning changes to your dog’s cycle that may warrant a vet visit.


​When Do Dogs Go Into Heat?

Can I use dog diapers during heat?

Using dog diapers during your dog’s heat cycle can help contain the mess and prevent spots around your home. Dog diapers come in different styles, like reusable cloth diapers or disposable pads that attach to a reusable garment. According to pet supply company Long Animal, the main pros of using dog diapers during heat are containing discharge, limiting licking/infection risk, and reducing anxiety for both you and your dog. The main cons are potential skin irritation from prolonged use and the need to frequently change/wash diapers.

Here are some tips for effective diaper use during your dog’s heat:

  • Choose the right size diaper based on your dog’s measurements.
  • Change the diaper frequently, at least every 4-6 hours.
  • Check for signs of chafing and take breaks from the diaper if needed.
  • Use dog diaper liners or pads to absorb moisture.
  • Clean the area after removing soiled diapers.
  • Reward good behavior with treats to make the process easier.

Diapers can contain the mess during heat cycles, but you’ll still need to keep a close eye on your dog and her skin health. Talk to your vet if you have concerns about using diapers for your dog.

Are there health risks if I skip walks?

Dogs need daily exercise and mental stimulation for their health and wellbeing. While skipping walks during peak heat may be necessary, lack of activity can lead to boredom, anxiety, and behavioral issues over time. Consider lower-risk exercise options like playing fetch in the yard or home. Mental games like “find it” with treats can also stimulate your dog.

The ASPCA recommends avoiding intense exercise when it’s over 75°F. But if your dog is accustomed to daily walks, skipping too many days in a row could lead to pent-up energy. Try shorter walks in the cooler morning and evening hours. Shady routes with grass or dirt rather than hot pavement also help mitigate risk. Always watch for signs of overheating.

With some creativity, you can still meet your dog’s needs despite the heat. But consult your vet if you have concerns about your pet’s health and exercise requirements. Some health conditions may require medication adjustments or more stringent precautions during hot weather walks.

How do I clean up after my dog?

Cleaning up after a female dog in heat can be messy, but with the right supplies it’s manageable. An enzymatic cleaner that breaks down blood and urine is highly recommended for cleaning surfaces and fabrics. Some popular enzymatic cleaners made for pet messes include Nature’s Miracle, Bissell Pet Stain & Odor Remover, and Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator.

Be sure to soak any stained areas thoroughly and let the enzymatic cleaner sit for 5-10 minutes before blotting and rinsing. For surfaces, scrub gently with a soft brush after soaking to help lift stains. Rinse and repeat as needed. For fabrics, soak the stain, blot, and rinse under cold water until the stain is gone.

White vinegar is another handy cleaning agent that helps eliminate odors and lift stains. Make a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spritz on stained areas, let sit briefly, then blot and rinse.

Baking soda can be sprinkled generously on surfaces or fabrics to help deodorize once the stain is removed. Let it sit for 15-30 minutes before vacuuming up.

With the right cleaning products and some extra attention while your dog is in heat, you can keep your home fresh and clean!

When can my dog resume normal activities?

Once your dog’s heat cycle has ended and the bleeding stops, it is generally safe to resume normal activities like walks and playtime. The heat cycle lasts 2-4 weeks on average, but you’ll know it’s over when her vulva returns to normal size and discharge stops 1.

However, it’s best to wait ~1 month after the heat cycle ends before breeding your dog. This allows your dog’s hormones to return to normal levels so she can have a healthy pregnancy 2. Discuss the optimal breeding timeframe with your veterinarian.

Once bleeding fully stops, you can resume daily walks, playtime, cuddles, and other regular activities with your dog. Just be cautious of male dogs being attracted to her for a short period after heat ends. Overall, it’s safe to resume normal schedules once discharge ends – just wait to breed until hormones settle.

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