There are a set of responsibilities for raising a dog from puppyhood if you are going to be a responsible owner. These include puppy vet visits, going through the stages of training, and keeping up with grooming. As the pup ages, the responsibilities change, especially with a female dog. Because the answer to the question of whether dogs have periods is yes, female dogs do have periods of a sort. Fortunately, taking care of your female pup while she is going through her estrous cycle is fairly straightforward.
When Does a Dog Get a Period?
A typical dog of medium size reaches sexual maturity at about the age of six months. A lot of things are happening in her body at this point, just as with women. During the first estrous cycle, otherwise known as her time in heat, she experiences an increase in her estrogen levels, followed by a sharp decrease. After this roller coaster hill of hormones, her ovaries release their eggs. The length of time a dog stays in heat generally hovers around three weeks on average, although it can range from two weeks to a month. Remember that each dog’s body is individually distinct, and the timing varies from dog to dog. Some canines enter heat at as young as four months, while larger dogs may reach the age of two years old before going into their first heat. During part of this heat or estrous cycle, the answer to the question do dogs have periods is often plain.
What Are the Signs?
The most obvious physical change during the heat cycle of female dogs is the discharge from their vulvas. This changes throughout the cycle. It begins as frank blood, gradually lightening to a pinkish blood-tinged vaginal discharge. Some dogs bleed very little. Dogs that take particular pride in their cleanliness will address the problem themselves and leave little to no spots around your house. Others may make a mess. Some owners make a nest of towels for their female dogs to sleep in to protect the dog bed and containing this mess. Others use diapers of either a disposable or washable nature.
More Signs of a Female Dog Going Into Heat
Female dogs in heat urinate more frequently. You will want to keep your dog’s leash handy and watch for the indications she uses to signal a need to pee. In addition to the discharge, her vulva will be swollen. Behaviorally, your dog may seem distracted or nervous. She may, regardless of her normal temperament toward male dogs, become receptive to them. Sometimes female dogs in the right part of the estrous cycle will initiate sexual contact. These behaviors include raising her rear, twitching her tail to one side, a behavior known as flagging, and generally presenting herself. She will most likely actively court dogs of the opposite gender until she is out of the heat.
Products to Help Deal with Your Dog’s Period
Since the answer to do dogs have periods is yes, It is best to be prepared ahead of time for your female dog’s first estrous cycle. When she is nearing the right age for a dog of her size, decide whether or not you are willing to wash reusable dog diapers. These are ideal for the owner who is particularly environmentally or economically conscious. These diapers are absorbent and contain multiple layers to contain the discharge. Their sizes are designed for breeds in small, medium, large, and giant sizes. You can choose from neutral colors to trending prints.
If you would rather not deal with washing diapers, consider disposable dog diapers. Such products are also available in a standard array of sizes and designed to be comfortable, secure, leak-proof, and absorbent. For female dogs that struggle to keep these types of diapers in place, try a full-body diaper. Such diapers were created by a veterinarian and are in use by other veterinarians, pet trainers, and breeders. Their sizes range from small to the more extreme extra large long. Their antimicrobial nature helps protect your pup from germs. They come in a smaller variety of colors, but are highly effective, constructed well, and highly praised by their users.
Stages of the Estrous or Heat Cycle
Having answered the question do dogs have periods in the positive, it is helpful to understand the entire reproductive cycle or heat cycle, especially if you are going to breed your female dog. This cycle has four stages. They are proestrus, the start of the stage where your dog is in heat, estrus, or the mating phase, diestrus, where her body carries through pregnancy or returns to rest, and anestrus, the phase in which the uterus repairs itself. Most dogs go through this entire process twice in the span of a year. To prevent possible pregnancies while your dog goes through the right phase of being in heat, separate her and keep her sequestered from male dogs. This holds true for a span of at least three or four weeks following the first indication of vaginal discharge.
At this beginning of the period where she will go into heat, your female dog’s body enters the preparation stage to be ready to mate. This stage lasts about nine days on average but can last for a duration of three days to over two weeks, at up to 17 days. It is during this phase that your dog’s vulva swells and the signs of discharge may appear. Again, this cannot be relied upon as an indication because fastidious dogs clean themselves before being spotted. Your dog may stay close by your side with clingy behavior and may hold her tail close to her body. While she will attract males at this stage, she is not prepared for their advances. She may grow aggressive at attempts to mount her in her extreme lack of reception to them.
This phase lasts about nine days on average. It can, however, be as brief as three days or last for up to three weeks. Throughout this time, the flow of blood will lessen, finally stopping, although the discharge may become the color of straw. Your dog is ready to mate in this stage. She will attract male dogs and accept them. Ovulation occurs from two to three days following the mating. Your dog may urinate more often, and as a result your dog may pee inside the house as well as outside the home to mark the area. This spreads pheromone messages that indicate her readiness for breeding. If in the presence of an intact male dog, or one who has not been neutered, she will probably present herself, offering her hindquarters to him with tail held aside.
This third phase occurs right after the stage of being in heat. Your dog will no longer be receptive to the attention of male dogs. It lasts about two months. During diestrus, either your dog’s body proceeds with the process of pregnancy if she has successfully mated, or it will return to rest. In this resting time, her vulva regains its normal size, and the last sign of any vaginal discharge vanishes. In her body, estrogen levels are at a low, while progesterone peaks about halfway through, declining again to basal levels at the end of the phase. This occurs regardless of whether she is pregnant.
The final phase of your female dog’s reproductive cycle, the anestrus phase is where uterine repair takes place. No behavior of a sexual or hormonal nature is displayed. This phase lasts from three to five months. The longest phase of the estrous cycle, female canines are considered in this stage until the beginning of the next proestrus stage.
Preventing Going into Heat
The only means of preventing your dog from entering heat is to schedule for your veterinarian to spay her. Unless you intend to strengthen the breed, spaying is strongly recommended for all. A spayed female dog has a reduced risk of mammary cancers and cannot contract infections of the uterus. She will also be incapable of going through the heat cycle. Timing is important when it comes to spaying your female dog. If she is in heat, the surgery becomes more complex. There is conventional wisdom that you should let your dog have a litter of puppies before spaying her. This is unwise and not recommended by experts (1) as it only contributes to the overpopulation of canines on top of the reasons mentioned above. Try to have her spayed before her first cycle, around five or six months of age.
Caretaking During the Estrous Cycle
Some extra care and supervision is needed when a dog is in heat. Like humans, she is experiencing hormonal shifts, and these can have varying effects on her mood. Try to keep her distracted and entertained if you can. This will relieve some of your dog’s discomfort and anxiety. If you take her to parks, it will help to reduce her stress. Be aware that she will attract males and will, in turn, be attracted back. Keep her away from non-neutered dogs to avoid pregnancy; this includes dogs in your household. It’s better to let her run around in a GPS dog fence than to expose her to situations with other dogs during this time. Dogs are indiscriminate breeders and will mate with siblings, parents, and adult children, an undesirable outcome.
Does This Cycle Last Throughout a Dog’s Life?
Unlike humans, female canines experience these estrous cycles throughout the entirety of their lives. The time between cycles does lengthen as a female dog age. Once it has begun, the cycle may take some time to become regular. This period of uncertain timing can last for up to 18 months. Keep a record during such early days to be aware of what is going on with your pup. After it has been regulated, the average frequency of going into heat is once every six months. Larger dogs, such as Great Danes, may only enter heat every 12-18 months, while smaller breeds have been known to go into heat as often as four times in a year.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you do when your dog gets her period?
Give your dog some extra care and attention, for the dog is in heat very shortly and her body is going through hormonal changes. Have diapers on hand if she does not clean up after herself. Keep her away from intact male dogs.
Do girl dogs bleed every month?
No. A female dog’s cycle is not monthly. Rather, an average cycle lasts about six months, out of which your female dog may bleed or have discharge for, in extreme cases, as much as 5 weeks.
How often does a dog have a period?
Most dogs have a period twice a year.
How long does a dog bleed for?
Depending on the length of the dog’s phases of the reproductive cycle, a female dog may bleed or have discharge for over a month. While individual dogs vary, a dog bleeds for anywhere from less than a week to five weeks.