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How to care for your dog in heat

It’s not a fun time for either of you—it’s messy, lengthy, and not too comfortable for your pup either. However, until you have baby girl spayed, she will go into heat.

The canine heat cycle (estrus cycle) consist of various stages: a mash up of bleeding, behavioral changes, and high fertility. So, while your vet can provide you with medical advice during this time, we are here to offer tips to keep your furry one comfortable, and you sane.

Heat Cycle Cleanup Tips For Dogs

The first thing that might be an indication your dog is in heat, is blood. Maybe there will be a spot on the bed, or maybe you have a breed that leaves joyful red sprinkles all over new carpets.

Here are a few ways to handle this:

  • Invest in a good doggy diaper. On some pups, these will slide right off, so suspenders or a comfy bodysuit will work. You can find disposable options, or reusable ones with liners, on either Amazon, or at general pet stores. The AKC offers directions on how to use doggy diapers.
  • Designate a special blankie for her use during this time, and place it wherever she is about to cuddle up—on the bed at night, on the couch, etc. By the end of the cycle, (hopefully) only one blanket will need washing.
  • Quick cleanup is best. Keep disposable wipes on hand so you can rapidly swipe across furniture or hard floors. If carpets do become soiled, the PowerDash Pet Compact Carpet Cleaner is a miracle worker that’s affordable, and small enough to fit in a coat closet.

Keeping Your Dog Comfortable While In Heat

Being in heat for the first time can be a confusing experience for your girl. She’s going to need extra love and attention.

  • Pups tend to get quite snuggly during this time, so set aside some extra slots for lots of cuddles. Maybe consider a lap desk so you can work and snuggle simultaneously.
  • Offer a safe, chew resistant toy that she can nudge up against. This too will provide a sense of security.
  • Never scold your pup if she happens to make a bloody mess, just calmly reassure her while you clean it up.
  • Make sure she’s eating well and drinking plenty of water.
  • Provide extra potty breaks, as there is a lot going on down there and she may feel the urge to relieve herself more often.

Preventing Pregnancy While Your Dog Is In Heat

There are special considerations to be made when your dog is in heat. Simple steps can reduce risk of pregnancy or any aggressive interactions. Keep these important things in mind.

  • Male dogs will be on the hunt, and the smell of hormones given off by your dog, can be detected by instinctual noses from far away. Monitor her at all times during outside potty breaks, and keep your own male dogs separate if not wanting any puppies on your hands.
  • Male dogs can also become quite aggressive when they sense a nearby female in heat. So, anticipate that you may have to be extra vigilant in preventing mishaps—especially on walks, dog parks, etc.
  • Just because she’s stopped bleeding doesn’t mean her cycle is over. Another phase follows, where she becomes extra fertile and may produce an unnoticeable discharge.
  • Watch for any changes in your dog’s health, as any major events such as this could create a health issue. If you suspect something is off, go to your vet.

Having your dog spayed will prevent complications down the road, such as uterine infections which can be life threatening. And as a bonus, you nor your girl will have to deal with the hassle of dreaded “in heat” moments.

Editor’s Note: Is spaying and neutering pets helpful or harmful to their health? Here’s what you need to know about spaying or neutering your dog—from benefits to myths and post-surgical expectations.


Karyn Wofford is a “Mom” to her fluffy, sweet dog Halli. She spends much of her time traveling and advocating for Type 1 diabetes—and Halli sometimes accompanies her on her adventures. You’ll find Karyn’s work on sites like Mother Earth Living, and in magazines such as Diabetes Forecast.

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