If you have an unspayed female dog, you're going to have to deal with her heat cycle. When female dogs are in heat, they go through a series of mental and physical changes. While you may not be able to see these changes immediately, you will certainly notice the changes in behavior. You may also observe a significant change in dogs that come near your female dog.
The heating season is when your dog's mature eggs drop into the ovaries. Basically, it's when your dog is ready to mate and have puppies. Males tend to go in heat at the very same time.
Eventually, natural instincts take over, which could lead to a host of problems.
Caring for a female dog in heat can be tough. It's important to remember that this is not something dogs can control. While it may be frustrating and slightly confusing at first, you need to do your part to make your precious canine companion feel at ease.
What Happens To Female Dogs in Heat?
To better understand what your dog is going through, you need to understand what's going on in their bodies. Hormonal changes start to occur during the heat season, stemming from the pituitary gland in the brain.
This gland releases and regulates other glands throughout the body. During heat, the pituitary gland starts working very differently, effectively throwing your dog's entire endocrine system out of whack.
All of those hormones from the endocrine system work to regulate metabolism levels, energy levels, mood, and so much more. When things start working differently, your dog will feel a rush of strange emotions and feelings.
Chances are, your dog is scared, confused, and anxious. Many female dogs start crying and whining during heat because of all the emotions they are feeling. This can lead to potentially aggressive and destructive behavior.
They will also start acting differently, making it seem like you have a completely different dog in your home.
How to Help and Care for a Dog in Heat
There are many things you can do to keep your dog comfortable and safe. It's important to be patient and vigilant as the heat cycle passes.
Provide Emotional Support and Attention
Despite all of your dog's strange emotions, they will still enjoy some extra loving from their owners. The heat cycle is a very emotional time for female dogs. They can easily lash out or get anxious because they don't know what's going on with their body.
This is especially true during your pup's first few cycles. You can put her at ease by simply spending more time with her.
Sit down with her, give her some extra head rubs, and play with her. Not only will this make her feel good, but it can also distract her for a bit. You can speak to her in a gentle voice and reassure her that she will be alright. Eventually, she'll start to feel a bit more confident.
Keep Her on the Leash
You should never, under any circumstances, let your dog out of your home without a leash during a heat cycle. Remember, she's not her same old self mentally.
Even the most well-trained dog may not listen to their owner's commands during this time period. If your yard is fenced in and secure, you still need to make sure that your dog is always attached to a leash.
You're not just protecting your dog from herself, but also other dogs in the neighborhood. Males know when females are in heat because of the hormonal changes and pheromones they produce. You may notice that more dogs are drawn to your home.
It's because they want to mate with your precious pooch! You can never be too careful when it comes to battling off the natural instincts of a strange dog. It's best to keep your dog nearby at all times.
Change Up Her Walks
Changing up your dog's standard walking schedule during heat has a couple of different benefits. The first is that you can avoid running into other dogs.
Try to take your pup out in the early mornings and evenings. There's less foot traffic on sidewalks during these hours, decreasing your chances of having a bad run-in with a male dog.
You can also keep your dog calmer with more frequent walks. Try to take more frequent short walks. Most dogs feel calm and relaxed after a walk. Whether you go a mile or only a few blocks, they're likely to take a nap afterward.
You can use this to your advantage by going on shorter walks throughout the day whenever you notice that your pup is starting to feel anxious. Take a quick stroll around the block and your dog should feel comfortable enough to take a nap.
Provide Plenty of Exercise Time
Female dogs often have a lot of pent-up energy when they're in heat. They're going to have to get rid of that energy at some point, so why not take control and let your dog get some exercise?
By going for a run or vigorous play session in the back yard, you can tire her out pretty quickly. This will cause her to fall asleep, which leaves less time for constant worry and misbehavior.
Keep Her Distracted With Toys and Treats
Toys are a great way to keep your dog busy. While a simple ball or doll may work for a few minutes, the best option is to go with a toy that's designed to provide mental stimulation.
Puzzle toys or products that hold hidden treats can keep your dog occupied for hours. Constant play will keep her distracted and tire her out mentally. Treats can also do the trick. Lasting treats, such as antlers, take many hours to fully consume.
Make Your Home a Calm Place to Rest
Don't assume that your dog will stay calm during heat. Even if they don't normally react to loud noises, they may do so when their hormones start changing.
You don't need to keep your home completely silent, but you should prevent sudden noises that could scare your pup. It's best to avoid loud televisions, screaming kids, and alarms.
It's also a good idea to create a safe space for her. If she's crate trained, she probably already has a place that she can go to.
You may want to try covering the crate with a blanket to create a dark hiding place. Alternatively, a comfortable bed may work as well.
Utilize Calming Products
Will spraying calm a female dog in heat? That all depends on the product itself and how your dog reacts to it. There are many sprays and drops on the market.
Most of them utilize herbs, essential oils, and pheromones to promote a sense of calm. Sometimes, it takes a few tries to find something that works for your pooch.
Once you find it, simply spray the product around your home, paying close attention to their bed or crate. You should never spray these products at your dog directly, as this could only cause more anxiety.
Mask Her Scent
Masking your dog's scent will let you venture out of your home virtually undetected. As mentioned earlier, male dogs can sense a dog in heat. By masking her scent, you're disguising this fact. You'll be able to avoid alerting male dogs and prevent them from following you home.
One of the best ways to do this is by simply using your car. Instead of taking a walk near your home, drive to a different destination. When you transport your dog in a vehicle, you're breaking up that scent trail.
Another option is to use menthol. You can apply a tiny bit of menthol oil to the tip of your dog's tail. The strong smell will cover up the scent she produces. There are many scent-erasing products on the market as well. They utilize menthol and other ingredients to ensure that your pup remains undetected.
Use Pants or Diapers
One physical side effect of being in heat is bleeding. Your dog may produce some bloody discharge here or there. While you may not notice it right away, the blood can easily get on your furniture or carpet as your dog walks around. To keep everything clean, you can invest in dog diapers or pants.
Diapers are relatively common nowadays. Many are used for housetraining puppies. However, there are products that are made to absorb blood from your dog's estrous cycle.
In addition to catching blood droplets, they can provide your dog with an extra layer of protection should they encounter a male dog. The physical barrier will prevent your dog from getting pregnant.
Secure Your Property
When you notice that your dog is in heat, it's a good idea to secure your property. If you have a fenced yard, make sure that there are no holes that other dogs can slip through.
Also, remove anything dogs can stand on to get over the fence. Make sure that your trash can is securely closed and that no local dogs can get into your pup's potty spot.
It may seem like overkill, but male dogs are determined creatures. The moment they get a whiff of your dog's scent, they'll do all that they can to get near her. It's not uncommon for owners to see turned-over trash cans, holes around their fence line, and lurking dogs around their property when their female is in heat.
If you don't plan on breeding your dog, you may want to consider sterilization. Spaying can help prevent future heat cycles and keep your dog's hormones under control.
Generally, veterinary professionals agree that sterilized dogs have better overall mental health compared to their unsterilized counterparts.
Spaying can also reduce the chances of your dog experiencing a number of reproductive health issues. Consult with your vet to see if its a good option for your dog.
Dealing with a dog in heat for the first time can be a very daunting task. It's a confusing time for both of you. Keep these tips in mind. All dogs are different, so you may have to try a couple of techniques until you find a routine that's suitable for you and your dog.
Once you find it, you can provide the comfort and relief your pup desperately needs.