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Is your dog having their period? You may be wondering if there is anything that you need to do. Many times, these heat cycles will last a few weeks then will go away. There are, however, occasional issues that would require you to see your vet.

When trying to figure out what to do when your dog has a period, you need to understand a few things about your dog’s heat cycle.

What to do when your dog gets her period?

When your dog gets their period, there are a few things that you need to do to make sure that everything is normal during their cycle.

These things are:

  • Keep her clean: This can be a mess at times. Most dogs are very good at licking themselves to keep themselves clean. If your dog is not staying clean, you will need to wipe their vulva area twice a day to keep their fur clean and free of blood.
  • Breed them: If you want to have puppies, this is the time that you need to breed them. If you do not want them to have puppies during this cycle, keep them away from any male dog. A male dog will go to great lengths to get to your female dog. They can even climb very high fences and get into your yard. It is best not to leave your in-heat female dog unattended anywhere near a male dog.
  • Monitor for signs of infection: During their period, your dog may develop a vaginal infection or urinary tract infection from constantly licking. If you notice any smelly discharge coming from your dog’s vulva or urine, it would be best for your vet to check them out.
  • Put a Diaper on them: If you do not want your dog to drip blood drops all over your house, you can get a doggie diaper that will help collect this blood. Many of these are washable and can be reused, as well as they make disposable ones. You will need to remove these when you take your dog outside to potty so that they do not urinate or poop in these diapers.

If your dog has problems such as not eating during their heat cycle, feeling sick, not eating, drinking, swollen vulva, or bad odors, then be sure to read our post Dog in Heat: Problems and Help.

dog diaper for period

How to stop a dog period from bleeding?

If your dog is having their period, there is no way to make the bleeding stop without spaying them. Spaying your dog will remove their ovaries and uterus. This will make them unable to get pregnant and will keep your dog from having a period and bleeding.

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Many vets will spay a dog while they are in heat, but some would rather wait until your dog has finished their heat cycle. This is because the procedure can be a little bloodier when your dog is on their period.

You may even have to pay a little extra for an in-heat dog spay than if your dog was not in heat due to the increased time of surgery.

How long do dog periods last?

If your dog is going through their heat cycle, their periods (or the time that they are bleeding) will last 7 to 10 days. Their whole heat cycle from beginning to end will usually last 2 to 4 weeks.

For other questions relating to dog periods such as when do they start, how long do they last, do dogs get period cramps, etc, be sure to read our post Dog Period Questions answered by a veterinarian.

What are the symptoms of a dog in heat?

If your dog is in heat, there are a few symptoms that you may notice that would indicate that your dog is in heat. These are:

  • Swollen vulva
  • Thick bloody to almost clear red discharge
  • Increased urination
  • Receptive to males
  • Excessively licking their vulva
  • Aggressive or agitated behavior
  • Change in position of the tail

If you notice any of these signs in your intact female dog, they are most likely going through their heat cycle.

dog licking vulva

Dog Heat Cycle Chart

When your dog has their cycle, there are 4 different stages that they go through as this chart shows.

dog heat cycle chart

Proestrus

This is the start of your dog’s heat cycle. You will notice that your dog’s vulva is starting to swell. You will first see that your dog is starting to bleed. Sometimes this can be missed as at first, it will just be a little. This cycle lasts about 9 to 10 days but can last up to 3 weeks.

Estrus

This is when your dog has ovulated and is ready to be bred. During this time, you will notice an increase in bloody discharge. This period of time will last about 5 to 9 days. This is the main time when you will see bloody discharge.

Diestrus

This is the period of time right after your dog goes out of the heat and is no longer acceptable to any male. If your dog is pregnant, they will give birth during this time.

The average gestation length of pregnancy in a dog is 64 days. The vulva will go back to normal size during this time. The Diestrus stage lasts about 2 months.

Anestrus

This stage is the 3 to 5 months when your dog is not showing any signs of heat. Their vulva is not swollen, and they are not able to be bred. During this time, your dog will act and behave just like a spayed female dog.

During each of these phases, your dog is undergoing many hormonal changes in order to get their body ready for pregnancy, or their body is recovering from their last cycle or pregnancy.

How to tell if your dog is in heat

The easiest way to tell if your dog is in heat is that they have a swollen vulva and bloody discharge.

At first, you may just see a slightly swollen vulva. This will slowly become more swollen, and then you will start to see a discharge.

The discharge at first will be slightly pinkish, and eventually, you will notice that it is very red and bloody.

Other signs that you may see are your female dog trying to breed with other dogs. They may even mount males or other female dogs.

Behavioral signs of a dog with her period

Your female dog may also behave a little differently when they are on their period. Common signs that you will see are:

  • Receptive to a male dog: When your female dog is in heat, you may notice them backing up to a male dog and allowing them to mate. If your female dog is not ready to be bred, they will not allow the male dog to mate and usually will run away from them when they are trying to mate.
  • Licking their vulva: Most dogs like to be clean. If your dog is bleeding, they will constantly be licking their vulva to clean any discharge that may be happening. This can cause your dog to have an infection. The bacteria in your dog’s mouth can enter their vulva and urinary tract. If you notice any whiteish-green discharge, this could be a sign that you need to see your vet.
  • Urinating more frequently: When your in-heat female dog urinates, it releases pheromones to signal to male dogs that they are ready for breading. During their heat cycle, you may notice that they are urinating a little more frequently
  • Mating with other dogs: You may see your female dog mounting other dogs, either male or female, during their heat cycle. This is their way of letting other dogs know that they are ready to be bred.
  • Agitative and aggressive behaviors: Some female dogs will have behavioral changes associated with changes in hormones. Some dogs will become a little more aggressive and agitated during this time.

Dog Period Problems: When do I need to see my vet?

Many times your dog will have their period and have no issues. Some dogs may have signs that would indicate that you need to see your vet. These signs are:

  • Excessive bleeding: If your dog is bleeding more than normal, this could indicate that there is something going on inside her vulva. This could be a mass or blood clot causing your dog to bleed more than normal. Your vet may recommend that your dog have an emergency spay to help with these issues.
  • Pus coming from vulva: This could indicate that your dog has a pyometra. A pyometra is an infection in your dog’s uterus. This can become a life-threatening issue if not treated right away.
  • A longer length of period: Some dogs will have longer periods than normal. If your dog bleeds for more than 2 weeks, it would be best for your vet to check them out. They may have an issue causing them to constantly bleed or have an infection.

Final Thoughts

When your dog is having their period, they usually take care of any issues themselves. It’s best to know what you are looking for and when you need to seek medical help for these issues.

Some dogs will have their heat cycle without any issues, while others may get a uterine infection or urinary tract infection that would require you to see your vet for medication.  Knowing the signs to look for and seeking medical help right away will help your dog stay healthy and happy for many years.

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