Home Remedies for Dogs In Heat
If they haven’t been spayed, female dogs will go into heat. If you’re not sure what “going into heat is” or how to help your dog when she’s in heat, then you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve put together some information about the heat cycle, what happens during this cycle, and how you can help your dog as she goes into heat. Let’s get started!
What Does “In Heat” Mean?
When a female dog reaches maturity, she will eventually “go into heat.” But what does this mean? Being in heat is the term used for when a dog goes through estrus. This is the time when she’s fertile and able to become pregnant with puppies.
An estrus cycle may begin when a female dog is between the age of six to nine months. However, some dog breeds may not go into heat until they’re about eighteen months old. This is most common in larger dog breeds.
A female dog typically goes into heat about twice a year, with each cycle lasting about three weeks. During this time, the female dog will be receptive to mating and could become pregnant. Female dogs are not usually receptive if they’re not in heat.
You may notice the following symptoms if your fur baby goes into heat:
- Bloody discharge
- Swelling of the vulva
Most dogs may bleed during the first half of their cycle for about seven to ten days. Larger dogs may bleed more than smaller dogs, but it depends on the dog’s breed. There are also dogs that may not bleed at all or very little.
It’s during this time that a female dog is receptive to a male dog’s intention to mate. But what does this mean? You may notice your lady dog acting in these ways if she’s receptive:
- Seeking out male dogs
- Be very friendly with other dogs, especially males
- Turn her tail to the side
- Appear nervous or agitated
- Mounting behavior
Most females are not in pain during their cycle, even if they bleed. However, it can happen that a dog may have pain or feel uncomfortable during this time. If your dog seems uncomfortable during her heat cycle, then it’s a good idea to have her checked by the vet.
The good news is that your dog’s cycles will become fewer and farther between as she gets older. But it’s important to understand that she can go into heat her entire life. Even if she’s a senior dog, she will go into heat and could become pregnant.
How to Prevent Heat Cycles
One of the most effective methods to prevent heat cycles in female dogs is to have them spayed (also called being “fixed”). This is usually recommended when a female dog is young if the pet parents don’t plan on breeding her.
When a female dog is spayed, her reproductive organs are removed. After she’s recovered from the surgery, your fur baby won’t have to deal with another estrus cycle again for the rest of her life.
There are also non-surgical methods to prevent the estrus cycle. For instance, a medication called megestrol acetate can delay or prevent heat cycles. And there are other veterinary medications that can permanently suppress heat cycles.
Megestrol acetate is effective; however, there are some side effects to be aware of:
- Weight gain
- Behavioral changes
- Breast tumors
- Adrenal gland suppression
Because the side effects can be serious, dogs on this medication must be monitored closely. The vet will want to check your dog’s weight, blood sugar levels, living function, and reproductive health at regular intervals. Tests can also be done to see how well the medication is working.
In most cases, spaying is the best method to stop heat cycles for dogs who are healthy. In addition, spaying ensures your canine companion won’t become pregnant with unwanted puppies, and it may also prevent serious diseases of the reproductive tract.
However, if you don’t want your fur baby treated for estrus, what can you do to help her during this time?
Home Remedies for a Female Dog in Heat
Here are some home remedies that may help your dog when she’s in heat!
1. Give Her Lots of Attention
Some dogs become more affectionate when they’re in heat. However, there are also dogs that may become more irritated and even aggressive.
If your fur baby is dealing with rollercoaster emotions, then it can help to pay her more attention. Give her snuggles and extra love at this time. It can really help take her mind off her raging hormones.
2. Spend Time with Your Dog
As you’re giving her more attention, why not spend more time with her, too? This is a great way to keep her company. Playing games indoors, providing her puzzle toys, and more can keep her busy. She may be distracted by keeping her mind and body busy and occupied.
When you watch TV, consider letting her snuggle with you and your family. Make her comfortable and give her plenty of attention.
Your fur baby may also like to be brushed, as this can help relax both body and mind. Do what you can to deepen the bond between you and your canine companion.
3. Having Your Dog Spayed
One of the best remedies, while not a home remedy, is to have your fur baby spayed. After she recovers from the surgery, she will no longer have to deal with an estrus cycle, the raging hormones, and more. Most vets recommend having your dog spayed around the age of eight weeks, though it depends on your dog’s breed and size. The vet will know what age is best to have your dog spayed.
Spaying also means your dog won’t try to escape, get pregnant, or seek attention from male dogs. You also won’t have to deal with unwanted puppies. It can be stressful to find good, loving homes for puppies.
So, you may want to ask the vet if spaying is an option for your dog. It will make your dog’s life much easier and happier not to deal with heat cycles.
4. Provide Supervision Outside
When your lady dog needs to go outside, never leave her unattended when she’s in heat. Dogs in heat are amazing escape artists! And if they don’t escape, male dogs are just as amazing at finding a way into the yard to see your dog. When a female dog’s in heat, male dogs from miles around will come running to the yard. And it’s almost impossible to keep them away from the female dog.
It’s best not to take your dog to the dog park or other open spaces. She will attract all the male dogs, who may then start to fight one another in competition to mate. In addition, male dogs may even become aggressive with you or their own pet parents. If you try to shoo the dogs away, they could turn on you or their pet parent. Male dogs can be quite ferocious when they want to mate!
Also, be sure to keep your canine companion on her leash when you’re outside with her. A dog that’s normally obedient and responds quickly to ques may have a different mind when she’s in heat. She may run off looking for that special male dog to have puppies with!
5. Watch for Pyometra
Pyometra is a secondary bacterial infection that may occur when the female dog is in heat. Hormones cause changes in her reproductive tract, which can prevent white blood cells (the ones responsible for fighting infections) from entering the uterus. Why does this happen?
White blood cells are kept out of the uterus to keep from attacking sperm. The cells may see the sperm as an invading force that must be killed. Instead, without the white blood cells for protection, the sperm is allowed to enter the uterus.
During this time, your dog’s cervix is open to allow sperm to enter. However, it’s also possible for bacteria to enter through the open cervix. This can cause an infection called pyometra, which is an infection of the uterus.
Symptoms of pyometra can include pus coming from her genitals or fur stuck around them. However, if the cervix closes, you may not see these symptoms. However, the dog may develop fever, depression, lethargy, and lack of appetite.
Pyometra can be a serious, fast infection. So, if you believe your fur baby has this condition, take her to the vet immediately. In some cases, the vet may recommend an emergency spay surgery, which may be necessary to save your dog’s life. Pyometra can lead to death if left untreated.
6. Use Doggie Diapers
You can either buy or make doggie diapers or pants for your dog. If your dog wears a diaper when she’s in heat, you won’t have to worry about her getting blood on the furniture or her bedding. The diapers or pants also protect your dog from becoming pregnant if she encounters an ardent male dog.
If you need to make doggie diapers or pants, it’s not hard at all! Follow these steps:
- Find some old underwear (such as a child’s boxers) to make reusable diapers for your dog.
- Fit the boxers to your dog and mark where her tail will need to go out.
- Create a hole for her tail, but make sure the hole’s not too big. It should only provide enough space for her tail to go through.
- Place a sanitary pad or panty liner in the boxers. Be sure to place the pad where it will absorb the discharge.
- Sew the waist are to fit your dog. And that’s it!
You may also want to consider adding some additional elastic to make sure the doggie pants or diaper stays on. What’s more, you can wash the diaper and reuse it! This saves money and is a sustainable option. Make sure to change the pad throughout the day to avoid infections.
In case you don’t have kids’ boxers to make a doggie diaper, you can do the same thing with a baby diaper. Make a hole in the diaper for your dog’s tail, but make sure the hole isn’t too large. There should only be space for her to tail to go through.
If you’re not sure what size diaper to buy, check your dog’s weight and use that to buy diapers that will be a good fit.
Another option is to use potty pads. If you have potty pads, then follow these steps:
- Draw an hourglass shape on the pad or use a baby diaper as a pattern.
- Fit the pad onto your dog and adjust it to fit her measurements.
- Cut the potty pad, leaving small flaps on the upper sides for fastening (a bit like a baby diaper).
- Put the potty pad diaper on your dog and tape it with duct tape or another strong tape.
One of the downsides of a potty pad diaper is that it won’t hold as much liquid as a diaper. So, you’ll have to pay attention and watch for leakage while your dog wears it.
7. Play Soothing Doggie Music
These days, you can find dog music on YouTube and other sources. That’s right! These are tunes made especially for dogs! They’re usually soothing and relaxing for dogs who are home and suffer from separation anxiety. So, why not consider creating a soothing doggie playlist for your lady dog?
Most of these doggie tunes are free on YouTube, so it doesn’t have to cost anything. There are many types of music available for dogs, including classical music to help them relax! Other tunes to consider are soft rock or reggae, which can also soothe dogs.
Because dogs get tired of listening to same music over and over, it’s important to create different relaxing playlists for your dog. Keep in mind that your dog’s heat cycle may last up to three weeks. So, having a mix of relaxing tunes can help her through the worst of her estrus.
Summing It Up
Female dogs can go through quite a bit when they’re in heat. So, using these home remedies can make your lady dog’s estrus cycle a little more bearable. However, if you don’t plan to breed your dog, it may be best to have her spayed.
If you have questions about spaying your dog, be sure to talk with the vet. They will tell you when it’s time to have your dog “fixed.”