Dogs can get period cramps. Unbeknown to some owners, female dogs have estrus cycles, just like humans do. These periods are different from what we understand about them, making them confusing to owners. They can also get a number of other period symptoms, some worse than others.
Today we’ll be looking into everything you need to know about dog periods and how you can help your furry friend through their heat cycle.
How To Know When Your Dog Is In Heat
Some dogs make it easier to know whether they’re in heat or not. Unless you’ve seen blood or swelling around their private area, you might be confused about whether or not your dog is in heat.
There are four stages to a female dog’s heat cycle: proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. Let’s take a closer look at these four stages.
The telltale sign of this stage is a swollen vulva on your dog. This is due to an excess of blood rushing to the area to prepare for mating with a male.
You might also notice bloody discharge or spotting, but not too much blood. This bleeding tends to go away after a few days, however, some females experience it throughout their entire heat cycle.
This is true for any female – even if they haven’t mated with another male.
Other symptoms here include appetite changes, tucking their tail, or feeling more affectionate or grumpier.
The next phase is where your dog is most fertile, and estrus is the first phase of reproduction. This is when you can consider your dog to be in heat and she will want to follow her natural instincts to breed.
Some owners find that this is the easiest stage to notice the heat cycle due to the symptoms. Look out for flirting with other dogs, which is often perceived as inviting them with her tail.
Her vulva will also soften, and she might have some light discharge which is pink.
Diestrus is when the fertile phase is coming to an end, occurring between 60 and 90 days after estrus began. During this stage, your dog is no longer fertile.
If your dog is pregnant, diestrus can last up to 60 days until she gives birth.
If she is not pregnant, the heat cycle will begin again after around two months post-ovulation.
Symptoms of diestrus are loss of flirting and the vulva will return to its normal size. Essentially, all symptoms from the heat period will disappear.
This is known as the rest period, with the female not showing any interest in mating with males. This period can last between 100 to 150 days until proestrus symptoms begin to show again.
Do Dogs Get Period Symptoms?
Yes, dogs can get period symptoms. It’s not uncommon for cramps to be the most common symptom, but don’t worry. There are many ways to calm your dog down and relieve some of its pain.
Dog periods are very different from human periods.
So, unfortunately, it’s not as simple as doing the same things you do to alleviate your own pain on your dog. You might have completely different reactions to the pain.
The estrus cycle, otherwise known as the heat cycle, occurs every six months or so.
This means that your unspayed dog could go through their period twice every year, but this could be more frequent depending on the dog.
Periods begin when your dog has reached puberty, otherwise known as 6 months after birth. The length of the period will depend on their breed and genetics. Some might only have a period of two weeks, while others might suffer for four.
Here’s a list of symptoms to look out for when deciding whether your dog is in heat or not:
- Swollen, red vulva
- Vaginal bleeding
- Spotting (pink, brown, or yellow discharge)
- Using the bathroom more often
- Licking their behind frequently
- Being over-friendly to other dogs
- Mounting and humping animals and objects
- Becoming anxious
- Standing to one side when touched
- Roaming to find male dogs.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it might be a telltale sign that your dog is in heat.
What Are The Signs That My Dog Is In Pain?
Not all dogs experience pain with their period, but here are a few symptoms to look out for to indicate whether or not your dog is suffering from cramps.
- Twitching or shaking
- Uncharacteristic aggression
- Panting without exertion
- Back arching
Make sure that you keep an eye on your dog and jot down any of the symptoms you see. It might be helpful to keep a note of the symptoms so that you can better track their heat cycle.
Things To Do When Easing Period Cramps For Dogs
Cramps are never fun for anyone, but dogs are unable to ease their pain themselves. If you see them showing signs of pain, here is a list of things you can do to make them more comfortable.
1. Apply Heat Or Cold To Their Stomach
A heat or cold pack might help alleviate some of the pain symptoms, or it might take her mind off the pain enough to cull the symptoms.
2. Give Her A Massage
Use essential oils to massage your dog. Massage has been proven to lower stress levels, offer relaxation, and improve blood flow.
Just make sure that she is enjoying the massage. If she snaps, don’t continue. Some female dogs won’t want to be touched when they’re in pain as it shows weakness.
3. Offer A Balanced Diet And Regular Exercise
This is important to prevent your dog from overeating and gaining too much weight. This could lead to obesity, a leading killer in dogs.
While it might be tempting to let your dog eat whatever she wants and rest all day, this is not what’s best for her in the long run.
Take her on short and slow walks and feed her more regularly only if she asks for it. Make the portions smaller to avoid overeating.
4. Alternate Therapies
There are alternative therapies out there that claim to help dogs with pain. One example is acupuncture.
However, make sure that the practitioner is a fully licensed holistic vet. Never try this for yourself at home.
5. Consider Medication
If your dog’s period pain is bad enough, your vet might recommend anti-inflammatory medications. This can be used to alleviate pain and symptoms.
However, this should only be used when absolutely necessary as it can come with some negative side effects.
Managing Your Dog’s Period
If your dog is exhibiting signs of her period, there are a few things that you can do to help. Here’s a list of things to consider.
1. Listen To Her Body
Humans are often told to listen to their bodies and match what they need. Since dogs cannot do this, you need to be able to notice subtle changes to her body that tell you what she needs.
For example, if she’s hungrier than normal, feed her more often. If she’s tired, give her more rest.
She might be feeling restless with the pain, so take her on a slow walk. Balance her exercise with rest so that she can take it easy for the days when she’s in pain.
2. Keep Her Indoors
If you don’t want your dog to get pregnant unexpectedly from an unknown male, don’t let her outside alone.
You can take her on walks, provided you keep her on the leash but don’t let her in your yard without a companion.
While you might think that your yard is secure, never underestimate the abilities of two dogs in heat!
3. Use Dog Diapers
Dog diapers (reusable or disposable) are extremely helpful if your dog bleeds heavily or for longer than one stage of their cycle.
If you are uncomfortable with your dog’s period, these can be very helpful in making it more manageable. It might also help keep your dog more comfortable.
We recommend using something such as these Simple Solution True Fit Disposable Dog Diapers for Female Dogs as they are super absorbent.
4. Talk To A Veterinarian
If you are worried about your dog’s pain, talk to your veterinarian about it.
They will be able to calm any worries you may have, or see your dog if they think something is wrong. When in doubt, always consult a professional!
5. Consider Spaying Them
Spaying your female dog is the act of a vet removing both ovaries and usually the uterus. This removes the heat cycle from your dog and therefore they won’t have to deal with any period symptoms anymore.
If you aren’t planning on breeding your dog, this might be a good option to stop their period altogether.
Thanks for reading! Dogs do get period cramps, and some can suffer much more than others.
Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to manage their symptoms and help them through their heat cycle.
A period is never fun, and it can be challenging for both the dog and the owner. Talk to your veterinarian about pain relief and other options to help your dog through its heat cycle.
See our post on 7 Best DIY Dog Toilet Surfaces (Indoor or Porch Potty).