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How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat? (And Other Dog Period Questions Answered)

How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat?

“How long does a dog stay in heat? And how do I deal with the mess in the meantime?” Yeah, you probably have some awkward questions when it comes to your dog getting her period. We’re here to answer all of them. Here’s your dog period guide!

What Is Estrus or Heat?

The heat is on! Estrus or heat is a phase of the female dog’s reproductive cycle. During this time she is receptive to mating with males. Her estrogen levels first increase and then decrease drastically and eggs are released from her ovaries. She might also produce a bloody discharge from her vagina. All this will happen if you do not spay your dog (which we HIGHLY recommend!).

How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat?

Unspayed female dogs generally first go into heat between the ages of 6-24 months old. First estrus tends to happen earlier for small dogs and later for bigger dogs. While frequency varies according to breed and individual dogs, usually dogs go into heat about twice a year or every six months. Each estrus period lasts about 18 days. Male dogs will be attracted to a female dog for the full 18 days, but the female dog will only be receptive to males for about half that time.

How Do I Know If My Dog Is in Heat?

You’ll know your dog has her period if she cries at the smallest things and binges on Lifetime movies and chocolate M&Ms (ha! Just kidding). But in all seriousness, your dog might appear nervous, distracted or highly alert if she’s in heat. She might also be raising her hind quarters toward male dogs when they’re around her. Afterward, she’ll push her tail to one side and her rear legs will get tense. The other major sign of a dog in heat is bloody vaginal discharge and a swollen vulva. When the female dog is ready to mate, the vaginal discharge decreases and changes in color from red to the color of straw.

What Should I Do When My Dog Gets Her Period?

You’ll have two main concerns when your dog is in heat: male attention and the blood. First you need to isolate your dog and keep her away from all unneutered male dogs, even ones that are related to her. Also always keep her on a leash when you leave the house and don’t ever leave her alone outside, even if you have a fenced-in yard.

The second issue during estrus is bleeding. To help control the mess, you have a few options: You can either restrict her access to areas of your home that are easy to clean, such as the laundry room and bathroom. You can also crate her for short periods of time. Lastly, you can also try using diapers. They’re an easy way to contain the mess without restricting where your dog can go in your home.

All in all, caring for a dog when she’s in heat is tricky. You need to be attentive to her physical and mental needs, giving her lots of affection, but also being aware that she might be irritable. The easiest way to forgo dealing with estrus entirely is spaying your dog!