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Tips for a Female Dog in Heat

Updated on January 4, 2011
Whitney05 profile image

Whitney has over 10 years of experience in dog training, rescuing and dog healthcare.

Female Dogs

 Personality-wise there is really nothing different from a female dog and a male dog. You've got your dominant and aggressive female dogs just like you do males, and vice versa you've got your submissive and calm female dogs just like males. So when deciding if you want a male or female dog, your main concerns in terms of differences will typically be the dog's size, as females are generally smaller than males (not always but generally), and whether or not you want to get the female spayed.

Although, I personally think that unless you have the intent of breeding, you should get your dog spayed or neutered because it is overall healthier for the dog and you prevent unwanted pregnancies, but it is always up to you, the pet owner, as to what you want to do.

If you have decided upon a female dog, you'll probably want to brush up on some information about dogs coming into heat and what all a spay involves.

Female Dogs

Flickr Image by Christina007
Flickr Image by Christina007
Flickr Image by Bisayan lady
Flickr Image by Bisayan lady

Commonly Asked Questions About a Female Dog's Heat Cycle

  • When will my female dog have her first heat cycle?Generally, a female dog will come into her first heat sometime between the age of 6 months and 24 months.

A lot of the time when your female dog comes into her first heat will depend on the dog's breed. Typically, small dog breeds come into first heat sooner than larger dog breeds.

  • How long will my dog's heat last?

Typically, heat will last an average of 18 to 24 days.

  • How often with my dog go into heat?

Dogs typically go into heat once every 5-8 months, so about twice a year. Although, this will vary per dog. Smaller dogs can go into heat sooner than larger dogs.

  • What are the first signs of my dog going into heat?

The first sign of your dog starting her heat cycle is a swollen vulva and bloody discharge from the vulva.

And, for the first week or so, the female dog will attract the attention of male dogs but she usually won't allow them to mount her. After the first week or so, she will actively court male dogs and will allow them to mount her. At this stage, he vulva may become slightly smaller and she may not have as much discharge or have a clear discharge instead of bloody, but she'll still be in heat and can still become pregnant.

  • I thought my dog was over her heat, but she is having bloody discharge again and it's only been a few weeks?

Typically, when your dog has her first heat, it will be a "split heat" in which she will develop a swollen vulva and have bloody discharge but she won't actually ovulate (release eggs) or let male dogs mount her. But about 2 to 6 weeks later you'll probably notice that she's in heat again; this is your dog's first real full heat cycle.

  • Will my elderly dog go into heat?

Older female dogs do not go through menopause, but after 7 years, your dog's heat cycle will get further and further a part.

Buy Doggie Diapers  Flicker Image by Dance Party Duo
Buy Doggie Diapers Flicker Image by Dance Party Duo
No matter how pathetic it may be, keep the dog inside as much as you can  Flickr Image by simplycute becka
No matter how pathetic it may be, keep the dog inside as much as you can Flickr Image by simplycute becka

Dealing With a Female Dog in Heat

First off, if your female dog is an indoor dog, you'll probably want to purchase a dog diaper, whether that be the dog diapers with the disposable liners or the washable dog diapers. Otherwise, you'll have blood spots all over your carpet, tiles, or wood floors. You can find the diap diapers in sizes from extra small to large, and sometimes extra large.

Next, you want to make sure that you keep your female away from male dogs, which means that if your female dog is an outdoor dog, you want to make sure that she is properly pinned and no dog can get in or out of your yard. I would actually recommend bringing the dog in the house or in an enclosed outdoor patio until her heat cycle is complete.

For indoor dogs, you want to make sure that all doors and windows are shut all the time and you keep any unneutered male dogs that you may have away from the female.

You can consider applying a little dab of menthol rub under the female's tail to disguise the heat just a little and to stop potential suitors. You can also use the menthol rub on your male dogs by putting a dab on the male's nose to make the female's scent.

Sometimes you can mask the smell by giving your female chlorophyll tablets. Just remember to ask your vet for the exact dosage before you give your dog any medicines.

Try to keep her as calm as you can, which means avoid overly strenuous play, but make sure that you still dote attention on her in a more calming manner such as brushes and massages.

And, of course consider spaying your female dog. Check out my hub Spaying Your Female Dog so that you know and understand when you should spay your dog, why you should spay your dog, the process of spaying your dog, and the risks of spaying your dog. Remember that by spaying your dog will reduce the risk of breast cancer in the future. You want to aim at before her first heat, but since you're reading this, I'm assuming your dog is already experiencing her heat cycle, so you want to shoot for after her first heat and before her second, otherwise the risks of breast cancer are the same as a dog who was never spayed at all.

If the dog is older than 2, you can still reduce severe health risks, as long as he dog is less than 5 years old. After 5, an unspayed dog has greatly increased odds of developing a uterine infection, which can be fatal if not caught early. The treatment is surgery to remove the uterus.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. If you have any questions or concerns, you should consult a veterinarian.


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      Marge 17 months ago

      I have a bichon shitzu that just turned one she is in her first heat. And things are smelly i bathed her then read i shouldnt have as she could get a uti i wash the bedding regularily . Is there something i can put on her to control the smell ? I will get her fixed right after this heat, ive only owned males in the past, so this is a

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      jo 2 years ago

      Hi my pug bitch is on her third season. She is approx going into day 10 and has been acting very strange. She was asleep on my lap and all of a sudden yelped out in pain jumped off and starting sniffing her back end. She is still cleaning herself but does appear very frightened of her back end. She urinated and opened her bowels as normal but still is acting strange. Hasn't been in contact with any males either. Is this normal and is she just being abit of a baby ?? I try to give her cuddles but she just shy's away from me which Is most unlike her ?? Help!!

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      nina smith 4 years ago

      my 12 yr old bichon mix is in heat she keeps turning her back to me we know she is to old to breed is there any thing we can do to calm her please help

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      mis-tee 4 years ago

      our female just went through is what i beleave to be her first heating, maybe second. we just got her so not too sure.. well we have done a good job so far to keeping the dogs apart but tonight our male and her got stuck.. what's going to happen now is she for sure pregnant and the risks that are involved. what do i do if anything.

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      4 years ago

      This was very helpful except she did swell about three times her usual size, is that too much ?

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      mary 5 years ago

      when u spay a female dog....will stop been in heat?

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      Nika 5 years ago

      my dog is almost 9months old and is in heat, shes and outside dog, but she has become extremely nicer! they say spaying your dog makes them nice but she already sweet didn't think she could get sweeter

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      Jody Foley 5 years ago

      When should you breed your dog for the first time? Mine is having her 1st Heat now, should we wait till next heat? Thanks Jody

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      robyn 5 years ago

      I have a poodle cross who is 6 months old and she has just come into heat, when can i get he spayed?????

    • kenziegreeneyes profile image

      Holly Mackenzie Cupp 5 years ago from United States

      Hey Stacey - I just saw your comment on here and I think you should take your dog to see your vet. That sounds like Parvo. Has she had her shots? Parvo is very serious and you need to get her in to the vet right away.

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      stacey 5 years ago

      I have a female dog and im just wondering why is she brining blood up in her sick????? she was on heat about 3 weeks ago and both the dogs done the deed!!!! so can anyone tell me why she is bringing blood up in her sick???

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      lisa 5 years ago

      wondering if you still count every six months for heat cycle even if she is pregnant ?

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      shawn 5 years ago

      I have a 4 month old boston terrier i was wondering when she will have her first heat

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      alex 5 years ago

      i have a 8 month old black lab-coon hound mix and she went into her first heat almost 4 weeks ago and our male dog is still trying to ride her. Should i still be worried that she can get pregnant.

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      Eileen 5 years ago

      My Bichon has only had one cycle and she is now two; is there anything I should be concerned about - I am due to take her to the vet but would appreciate some advice

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      samantha 5 years ago


      can someone tell me when a female German shepherd is on heat. and how old will she be when she doe's go on heat .and is there any sings of the female on heat with out you knowing about it . doe's the females bleed right away when they are on heat.

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      Hope 5 years ago

      So after the female dog gets spayed she will not have her period correct.

    • kenziegreeneyes profile image

      Holly Mackenzie Cupp 5 years ago from United States

      thank you so much for this hub! I was freaking out as I was told my dog just finished her first heat and I realized today she's definitely in heat again. Now I get that it's a split heat. Off to get some doggy diapers and making her a future spay appt tomorrow!

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      ESPELLZ 5 years ago

      I have an Italian Mastiff. And she 9mo. And she in heat. And she lay down a lot on her bed. Is that OK.

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      Maggy 5 years ago

      I have a beagle that is gloing through heat or her very first cycle.Usually she is a very happy and excied dog but now she just seems depressed. Is That Normal?

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