How to Care For a Female Dog in Heat

July 8, 2010

By Suzanne Alicie

Female dogs that aren’t spayed go into season or into heat approximately every 6 months. This can be a real annoyance to pet owners and to all other pets in the household.

The heat cycle for a female dog lasts about 3 weeks. During that time her vulva will swell and she will have a bloody discharge. While she is in heat your dog will be constantly releasing pheromones which will attract all the male dogs in your neighborhood.

Do not leave your female dog alone outdoors when she is in heat. Male dogs will become aggressive and have been known to dig and jump fences to mate. Keeping your female indoors will help eliminate the fear of unwanted puppies or attacks by neighborhood males.

However, keeping the female dog inside while she is in heat can also be inconvenient. The discharge can be not only messy but also quite smelly. The best option is to keep your female indoors and confined to an area where the discharge won’t be a problem to clean up, such as a tiled or concrete area in the basement or garage. Baby gates are an easy way to confine your dog without putting her behind a closed door.

If you crate your female while she is in heat it is important to place the crate where she will be able to spend time with “her” people, and also to let her out to exercise. You don’t want your dog to feel as if she is being punished. Another option is to purchase what are known as dog panties, to contain the discharge and avoid messes.

Your female dog may display several aggressive behaviors with other pets in the home while she is in heat. This includes a pushy attitude, shouldering aside other pets, humping, and basically attempting to dominate the others. This is a temporary problem and will subside when she goes out of heat. In the meantime, separation from the other animals is one option, or letting them figure it out on their own is another. This is nature; animals communicate and display their place in the “pack” the way nature dictates. So if your easygoing female suddenly begins acting like a bully, the other animals will either accept the temporary insanity or they will put her in her place.

A female dog in heat will be easily agitated and may pace restlessly during this time. This is not unusual, nor is the whimpering and panting. These are just some of the symptoms of her being in heat, and if she isn’t allowed to breed can be very frustrating to her and you. If you don’t plan to breed your dog, it is much better for her health and your sanity to have her spayed. Responsible pet owners take every precaution to prevent unwanted puppies.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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  1. Linda Jackson says:

    Do they have pain while in heat


    Should I put an ointment or sauve on her her? It looks like it hurts and unconfortable.

  3. CSD says:

    “If you don’t plan to breed your dog, it is much better for her health and your sanity to have her spayed. Responsible pet owners take every precaution to prevent unwanted puppies.”

    You really could have, and should have picked a less condescending way to say this. Some really small dogs shouldn’t be spayed because of health risks, which is what my vet told me. I went to another vet for a second opinion and they said the same thing. I am a responsible pet owner which is exactly why I will not be spaying one of my girls, I care about her health more than I care about dealing with all the issues that come along with her being intact.

  4. Belle says:

    Do dogs get cramps when in heat?

  5. C.B. Dutta says:

    My puppy (basenji) is in heat…. And she even doesn’t like wearing a diaper… Plus, she tears the diaper. And we even cannot keep her in our garage because its totally open… And I already left her open with a male dog (beagle)… Should I worry?

  6. George G. says:

    My dog is in heat today after wearing disposable dog diapers for two days her tail is very sore and she isn’t moving it like at all. When I lift it to put on a diaper she yelps. Should I worry or is it maybe muscle pain from sleeping in the diaper with it pulled down a little? It started this am and I did notice the diaper had slid down and was holding her tail down. Idk any thoughts would be great.

    1. Lauren says:

      I think so sounds like its pushing on it

  7. Okorie says:

    My three years old female dog has onlycome to heat twice and I have been to cross her twice but she wasn’t able to take in what should I do?

  8. Demetris says:

    My dog is not in heat yet but she have been throwing up her food for the last two days,is this normal?

  9. Roselyn says:

    I dunno if this normal for a female dog while in heat to not eat and sleep more, she is really thin

  10. Fabio says:

    Does anyone know of an online course or any complete material where I can learn how to take care of a puppy dog?

  11. Misty Chinn says:

    OMG This is my first dog the info was very helpful. Thank You UGH smh

  12. Tanya Murray says:

    What kind of medication can I give my dog that’s in heat?

    1. Dee says:

      Bach’s Rescue Remedy for pets is an all natural, herbal formula that helps my dog when she’s in heat. She likes the flavor so no problem getting her to take a drop or two. It was originally formulated to relieve stress in rescue dogs, but it works great for females in heat, and dogs who stress out during thunderstorms or with separation anxiety.

  13. Sweatha says:

    My 2 years old dog , she was in heat and she is not eating anything plz help me for this and she s unable to stand n walk even dog use to get pain in heat?

  14. Bradley R says:

    Our 1 1/2 year old Boxer/Dalmation-x is going thru her 2nd heat now. We were going to give her to a friend that wanted her (and I’m in an apartment), seemed like a good thing, they had another dog and yard. Well she kept getting out and got a message to take her back. She behaves differently, clearly beaten where she would be happy before now just ears back, afraid and scared when going to pet her. Well Question is, is she pregnant now? that dog is not fixed and she isn’t either, her doggie teats are large but the fact she’s bleeding would this indicate she didn’t get pregnant? she throws up 3 out of 5 days now, just acts strange. thanks.

    1. Boxerlover says:

      Please get your pup to vet. She needs an exam.

  15. Maria Fortune says:

    Very informative article. I just received my first female, Jett. Thank you.

  16. Grace Asyur says:

    My dog is in heat, I just realized it when I got home from school. She was so moody and quiet. I gave herfood but she didn’t want to eat, the food in her bowl is not even half eaten. When she was in heat before, she wasn’t so moody like this. My dad already injected her so she will not have puppies anymore (I actually didn’t want that to happen) I’m worry if something bad happen to her, the animal clinic at my place here is kinda.. Untrusted(to me)

  17. Margiena Mayfield says:

    I was told mot to breed her the first time

  18. Antoinette Holmes says:

    How much is it to spyed a puppy?

  19. Leslie Marquard says:

    I have a 7 month old female dauschund chiuaua that humps her blanket that she got brought home with and now she is doing it with a teddy bear. She hasnt been in heat yet.

  20. ana terranova says:

    Do I need to buy any madicine for a famale dog when she has her period and also she did not want to eat what can I give to her so she could eat please help me sincerely ana terranova

  21. Jonathan S Snchez-Styles says:

    I have a 8 and a half month old female Doberman and she started spotting last night , i also have a 1year old male doberman we are planning to get her spayed soon just wondering it their is a diaper that I can purchase in the meanwhile?

    1. Jodi says:

      I went to Target and bought a bag of baby diapers and cut a hole in the diaper for the tail. Fastening the diaper in the back works to keep her from taking it off.

      1. I never thought of this….thank you for sharing.

    2. sam says:


  22. Jeanie Flannery says:

    Do the pups act like they have to pee a lot? . I think she may be in heat, but, not sure. I haven’t seen the blood yet. She licks herself all the time, and acts like she hurts some. She is 61/2 months. Afraid she might have a urinary infection. Can you give them a part of a baby aspirin. She is a shits sue, yorkie mix.

  23. Tonya Edwards says:

    Hey i have a 9 months she in her first heat an she have like a round pink ball hanging out what is that

    1. Wendy says:

      I have a 10 months oldouble llaspo and she is very swollen and pink will it go back to normal

  24. Linda says:

    I have a 8mth old lab/shar pei mix who is going into heat ( her appt to get fixed is the 13th of next month ) she will not keep a diaper on how long will the first heat normally last

    1. I just got a female puggle a few month ago from a rescue village . She went into heat a week ago. The vet told me she couldn’t get her spayed for 2 months because of the whole process of going through heat that takes over a month. Check with your vet because April 13 sounds too soon for her operation.

    2. Mike says:

      It will last about 3 weeks

  25. My 13ur old Maltese has like a clot coming out of vagina or after birth has not mated will she take care of it herself never experienced this before

  26. Henrietta Yeverman says:

    Advice needed! My dog (7 months) is going through her first heat at the moment and yes, she’s been bleeding but she’s also showing signs of discomfort such as frequently licking her vag and crouching her back as if she’s in pain. Is this normal? A sooner reply would be very much appreciated!

  27. Gavin says:

    Some advice plz. My ab normally gets on well with other dogs and has never been aggressive even if next dog was. At the mo she is being agressive to male dogs, she’s cool with bitches. She came into season on 7th of Jan, has stopped bleeding but still quite swallen. Could this be the reason she is not getting on with her male friends? It’s strange as she’s cool when a bitch has a sniff about. She had a great temperament, do you think this is a season thing and she will get back to her old self in time? This is my first bitch, she is 19 moon and her 2nd season and all verry new to me. The mail dog wasn’t trying to hump her, just sniffing.

  28. Sandy says:

    Do they have diapers for a maltipo while she’s in heat??????

  29. Alan McClain says:

    I have a beagle/Boston mix named Frayah and she has been in a really heavy flow heat for two weeks. She this morning displayed with washed out gums and began shaking as if she was siezing. I’ll grant you losing blood for two weeks would really be hard on ya and it explained the listlessness but is their anything that I can do to help or any advice you would recommend, please let me know, Frayah is my best friend and I just want to make her comfortable or failing that make sure she will be OK.

    1. Alice says:

      Maybe go to the vet. I took my Belle as she swelled up like a baboon at the back. Vet gave her anti inflammatory and pain relief medicine. 5 days on she’s getting better but still bleeding slightly and still some swelling there. Awful for them!!!!

    2. Amanda says:

      Pale gums and shaking are signs of hypoglycemia. I would get puppy nutrical and feed her a little bit of wet food with that along with dry kibble

  30. Jennifer says:

    My Pomeranian is 8 months old and is just coming into heat. I don’t want to breed her at this young of an age. I do have a male pom.who is more than ready. If for some reason they do end up breeding could it be dangerous to the female? The only way I can be certain that they do not breed is to crate them separately and I honestly hate to do that but will if my female could be harmed.

  31. Rachel says:

    I have 2 standard poodle girls, one was bred last week for the 3rd time while the other had her first heat cycle 2 months ago. Up until now my maiden bitch has completely lost it. She is very aggressive toward our other female where before they were the best of friends. She has never shown aggression toward her while in heat or even with pups. I am very stressed and concerned with this new behavior and am hoping this is temporary. Could this continue throughout her pregnancy? Or should she stop this behavior here in a few days when she is no longer in heat?

  32. Gayle Howard says:

    I have a stud and two females in the same pen. Should 2 females be together,with the stud, while 1 is in heat? I want to breed her with the stud but while he’s working hard to get at her the other female is fighting her. It appears that they are double-teaming her.

  33. Omiya says:

    Your information is greatly appreciated! This is my 1st time having a female dog… I’ve only owned male dogs, so when she started to swell and bleed it was NEW for me! I’ve noticed the changes in her as well, she’s sniffing under the gate! & when I take her walking she’s hyper and she has never behaved this way, & all of the dogs in the neighborhood start barking when she’s I haven’t walked her because of that, may I have her spayed now even though she’s already in heat? Or do I wait for it to be over?
    In advance thank you for your time.

    1. Elaine says:

      Hi, I’m not the author of this blog but I thought I could answer your question. Hopefully it’s not too late. My 8 month-old puppy also recently went into heat and we originally wanted her spayed a few days ago. However my vet recommended to continue the procedure once the heat is over and when her vulva starts to go back to normal.

    2. Ashlyn says:

      My vet said that they like to wait 2 months after there first hear too spay them so make a appoitment now and call your vet to see what they think

      1. Alice says:

        The vet said she will most likely go through a phontom pregnancy 5/6 weeks after the heat has settled……. lasting 4/5 day she will mother something so just let her have her time out with it…. awa their so sweet

  34. Shirley says:

    Thanks for the great info!

  35. sameer shrestha says:

    This was very helpful thank you so much

  36. My Roxie in heat again. When she us in heat, she is very affectionate and always wants her stepbrother, older than she is, but not only when she’s in heat, just more.

  37. Jamella Hackett says:

    Thank you so much. This is my first female dog. Your information was very helpful.

  38. Vilma Gomez says:

    Thank you for the information about dog menstruation or in heat.

  39. debbie says:

    i have a australien cattel dog, this is her first heat and she is really strange. i was wondering if it is normal for her to be really depressed, (not agressive )she is just not herself.

    1. Mike says:

      It is totally normal for a dog to seem depressed or distant. Most dogs act as if they don’t like you any more, don’t worry it’s just the hormones.

  40. Andi says:

    We found a dachshund and we think she may have had a baby, her teets were swollen but not leaking milk, but she is in heat! Pls correct me but my thoughts are the babies may had been taken from her before she was threw breast feeding which had caused her to go into heat? The first night she seemed to lactate, but nothing since. Very sad but we will keep her if no one claims her!

  41. A.adams says:

    Thank you that was very helpful

  42. Tracee says:

    I assume then we will have to wait until her cycle is over before she can be spayed. We were supposed to make her appointment this week but she started discharging today.

  43. Dee87 says:

    I have a 5 year old (I think) Chihuahua mix that I got from a woman who claimed she could no longer take care of her. After having this dog for over a year now, I don’t believe anything that lady has told me so I’m not 100% sure she has been spayed. This is the first female dog I’ve ever had and I believe she has come into heat before because she sticks her butt in the air any time I talk to her or go to pick her up & the description of a female being in heat seems to match, but she’s never bled. Is that normal of a dog in heat?

    1. Tatiana says:

      My 8 months puppy Schnawzer is in heat and acting really weird. She lost her appetite, she seems depresed, she doesnt even want to hang out with us anymore. Our vet said that is normal and she will be back to her normal self after this pass. She is basically hurny and frustrated because we dont let her be with a mate. She will be fine.

      1. debbie says:

        ok since this is her first heat, i read from other posts that this is normal . i was really worried because she is just not herself, all she wants to do is sleep.

    2. LINDA ROBINSON says:

      My chis do that when they are not in heat. I call that move a”butt up”” and tel them they have cute butts. Its their way of flirting and looking cute

      1. LINDA ROBINSON says:

        If they were in heat their tiny privates would be swollen.

  44. Coopie says:

    This is my first female puppy she is in heat now, your information was so helpful. Thank you

  45. Tatum says:

    Hi I have a 7 month old husky & she is in heat right now I plan on breeding her but wanted to wait until she is no longer a puppy and has her second heat I was told to not breed her on her first heat but never really was told why just wondering if this is a known fact and why

    1. Linda says:

      The breeder of my dog does not breed their dogs until they are two to two and half years old. They don’t breed even after the second heat. They have been breeders for 30 years. I’m not sure why this is but there must be a reason not to do it too early

      1. Brittany says:

        Breeding a dog when they are toon young is detrimental to their health. It is not good for an immature dog to breed. It can stunt growth and cause a ton of other issues. I would suggest doing A LOT more research before breeding your girl. It is not recommended to breed them until they are two to two and a half years old for safety reasons. There are lots of tests you should have done on her too (ie having her hips and eyes checked and certified as well as her Brucellosis test) before breeding to ensure her health as well as the health of her puppies.

  46. Uus says:

    Hi there, I am a dog rescuer and several times I have had bitches on heat. A way of solving the problem of the discharge is to buy Pampers (appropriately sized) cut out a square where the tail goes and put this on. change her often and allow her time to go to the bathroom. this I do till the discharge has gone and get her sterilized.
    And if your dog behaves differently during her “period” just look at how you feel during that time. Dogs also have feelings, so just be compassionate instead of worried. This strange time will pass too.

  47. Mary says:

    I have a 10 year old chocolate female lab and a 9 year old black male lab. The male was nutered when she got pregnant, we didn’t spay her because I thought since she had the puppies he was the one to get fixed… But now she goes into heat and my male lab will try with her but he gets really tired. I feel she gets frustrated but he gets overwhelmed and he’s had seizures so I get scared when he looks overwhelmed. What can I do? They’re both so close to my husband and me most nights they sleep on our bed so I can’t really separate her, it would be like a punishment for being in heat. Can I spay her at 10?

  48. Jamie says:

    My dog has been biting above her tail while she is in heat and has made it very red and raw is there anything I can put on it?

    1. Trish Ranson says:


  49. Tashelle Sullivan says:

    i have a large rotti x and shes in her 3rd heat (came on when we moved house 3-4 months since her last) my question is, im getting a bichon frise puppy (girl) in a couple of weeks would this cause my rotti to get aggressive because shell be still be in heat? and is their any advice i could have about introducing and signs of her not being interested in the pup?..

  50. Victoria Kelleher says:

    My Zoe is in her first heat, I noticed some strange behavior. She sleeps all day and is avoiding me and others.

  51. Carolina says:

    I have 2 maltese puppies, a male and female 1 month apart. I want to eventually breed them but in about 2 years or so. For now she is in heat and i keep her dog pants pretty much at all times except when i am supervising her to use the potty… are these female dog pants enough to prevent an unwanted pregnancy?.

    1. Danielle says:

      I have two dogs, brother and sister, so they can’t mate. She’s in heat now so I put her in a diaper. If he wants to hump her he’ll have to bite off the diaper. I keep a close eye out for the both of them. So by then I’d have seen if he actually snatched off her diaper.

      1. Danielle says:

        Edit: would have seen him try to snatch off her diaper and separate them.

  52. Bec says:

    We have 2 cocker spaniel babies- 1 male around 7yrs old & 1 female 1.5yrs old. She has just gone on heat & neither of them spayed. As you can imagine this is a total nightmare. We would like her to have 1 litter & then Have her spayed however we don’t want it to be on the first heat as she’s still young & we’re hoping to move on the next few months. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. They cry when they are separated & it’s proving harder to keep them apart especially the past few days.

  53. Tony says:

    If my female is at the beginning of her heat cycle and we plan to breed her this time will taking her to have her teeth cleaned effect her or possible pups. They are not tying yet it is too early

  54. Pat Loyd says:

    My dog has licked her vulva so much during her heat it is bleeding from her licking. Is there something I can put on it?

    1. Danielle says:

      It’s supposed to bleed, right?

  55. Tasha says:

    “Temporary insanity,” that’s quite demeaning for something natural. I guess you feel the same when a woman might be experiencing such a natural response to natures creation.

    1. Jason says:

      It’s a joke.

  56. Eamonn Walsh says:

    Is there anything I can get to mask my dogs oder,

  57. clark says:

    Hello, I have my six-month puppy in heat for a couple of days now. She just had her 2nd deworming last Monday. Today, she’s just acting not the usual. She used to be playful and active. Now, she’s just lying most of the time and does not want to eat her food. Is this normal?

  58. Breanna says:

    my bella just started today
    shes been on our tile floor all day hasnt been really in the mood for playing at all, seems like she doesnt want to move from that place, should i leave her there? also she does have a weird smell and she isnt hungry as much, is that normal? is there eny medicine you can get at a pet store for dogs when in heat? im just very worried and hope this goes away soon

  59. Ana says:

    my female dog has a swollen vulva, her pee does not smell at all. She uses the bathroom normally, eats normal as well. She just hit her 7 months and her nipples look different as well. She has been acting more aggressive or lets say agitated. Should I put like a warm cloth so the swelling can go down?

  60. Ami says:

    If my female dog is in heat and male dogs are attracted to her scent why are the female dogs also coming around her?

  61. Loraine mitchell says:

    In the first week of my dogs heat she ate like a horse this week the 2nd week she is off her food altogether is this normal ?

    1. lindelwa says:

      My dog won’t eat she is in heat is it normal

  62. Lisa says:

    Is it ok to give dog ibprofen while in heat

    1. Deanna Bifulco says:

      No ibuprofen. I gave my dog one, he became very very sick much more than it was and had to take him into ER and he stayed three days there and cost us $1000 so please don’t give your dogs ibuprofen or at least get your vets opinion but my vet said no that’s what caused it.

  63. Pam Carlyle says:

    Thanks for your advice. I have an 8mth old female lab/boxer mix however, I have been reading conflicting reports,- on one hand there is very supportive evidence and encouragement to have your dog spayed early, then another that advises much later-ie; 2yrs, claiming early spaying gives rise to a greater cancer risk-particularly
    heamangiosarcoma, hypothyroidism,joint diseases- forming of the ACL joints. Now I don`t know what to do for the beat. having read the ” How to care for a female dog in heat” – this seems a very daunting prospect to me, but I certainly don`t want to cause her any harm or problems for the future. I should be so grateful for any help/advice on this matter. Pam

  64. Felice Morin says:

    It’s never fun when the dog is in heat. I’ve definitely experienced the male dogs trying to come into my yard as you explained. I found that the best solution was to make a little dog diaper out of some old fabric pieces that were lying around and let her stay in the house. It’s important to remember that the dog is probably not enjoying the event any more than its owner is. Thanks for the information!

  65. Jenna says:

    Hi I have a blue heeler it seems that she is in heat but she got spayed as a baby can she still be in heat???
    She’s also puking white bubbly and her tail is between her legs I know that I got to deworm her cuz it’s almost the day. I just want to make sure all this is normal

  66. Brenna M says:

    Hi. Thank you for the article.
    My roommate has a puppy (she’s 4, but they’re all ‘puppies’ to me. ;), who is in heat (he obviously has not had her spayed).
    I noticed her vulva is very swollen, and she licks it a lot. It looks like it hurts to me, but maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know.
    I was wondering…is there anything I can do to help her…to ease discomfort or anything? I thought about letting her sit in epsom salts for a little bit. Is this a good idea? Is it a bad idea?
    I don’t know. I just have such a soft spot for the Furry Angels, and I would do something to help her if I knew it was actually helping her, but I don’t want to chance hurting her or making it worse, either.
    I have 2, 11 year old, female Lhasa Apso puppies, but I had them spayed when they were just babies, so I have never experienced this before.
    Thanks for your input,
    A Mommy of 4 Furry Angels

    1. Danielle Nelson says:

      I would also really like to know this. Did you by chance find anything since no-one has posted on here yet? My pup is in heat and I just feel like she is in pain. She whimpers so much and I just cant stand that sound, emotionally… I feel so bad for her and I really want to ease her discomfort in any way possible.