Dog Heat Cycle

Here’s a comprehensive guide about managing a female dog in heat, including signs, practical care tips, and a key takeaway:

Understanding the Female Dog Heat Cycle

  • What it is: Estrus, or being “in heat,” is a normal part of a female dog’s reproductive cycle, indicating readiness to mate and conceive.
  • First Heat: Typically occurs around 6 months of age but can vary depending on the breed. Smaller breeds tend to mature earlier.
  • Frequency: Heat cycles usually occur twice a year but can vary across breeds.
  • Duration: Each heat cycle lasts approximately 2-3 weeks.

Signs Your Dog is in Heat

  • Behavioral Changes: Increased restlessness, nervousness, frequent urination, interest in male dogs
  • Physical Changes: Swollen vulva, vaginal bleeding or discharge (starts heavy, lightens in color during estrus stage)
  • Excessive Licking: Of the genital area

Managing Your Dog in Heat

  • Hygiene is Key:
    • Washable dog diapers: Help contain discharge and minimize messes.
    • Doggie sanitary pads: Can be placed inside the diaper for added protection.
    • Regular cleaning under the tail: Helps prevent irritation and infection.
  • Supervision is Essential:
    • Avoid unsupervised time outdoors: Prevents unwanted mating.
    • Leashed walks only: Maintain control and safety.
    • Indoor vigilance: Helps minimize staining on furniture and surfaces.
  • Managing Other Dogs:
    • Keep males and females separate if you don’t intend to breed.
    • Consider boarding males away from home if possible, or temporarily confine your female to a secure area for her safety.

Caring for Your Dog During This Time

  • Extra Love: Hormonal changes can make dogs more anxious or unsettled. Offer reassurance and comfort.
  • Increased Activity: Extra walks or playtime can help with restlessness.
  • Mental Stimulation: Puzzle toys and interactive games help keep her mind engaged and reduce boredom.

Important Considerations

  • No Stopping the Bleeding: This is a natural and necessary process. Forcing it to stop can cause health problems.
  • Avoid Open Water: Swimming in ponds or lakes increases the risk of infection due to the vulva being more open during heat.
  • Hygiene Products: Change pads and diapers frequently to prevent infections.
  • Spaying: If you don’t plan to breed your dog, consider spaying after the heat cycle ends. This prevents unwanted pregnancies and offers numerous health benefits.

Key Takeaway

Being in heat is a normal part of a female dog’s life. With proper understanding, care, and supervision, you can ensure your dog stays safe, healthy, and comfortable throughout this cycle. Responsible pet ownership includes managing heat cycles effectively and considering spaying to prevent unwanted litters and potential health issues. If you have any concerns, always consult your veterinarian.

What Is the Dog Heat Cycle?

To better know the symptoms of a female dog/bitch in heat, it is best to understand the different stages of the female dog’s reproductive cycle. Heat in dogs is part of what is known as the estrous cycle. Pets are sometimes said to be “estrum” or “in heat”, and the estrous cycle is sometimes referred to as the “heat cycle”.

The first heat cycle in dogs appears when she attains puberty, at about 6 months of age, although this may vary between individual dogs and breeds. Smaller breeds usually reach maturity earlier, while in giant breeds, the first estrus cycle begins after a year. Larger dog breeds may take some months more than smaller dogs to become sexually mature. And that is quite normal.

The cycle often repeats twice a year. Some tiny breeds, according to the American Kennel Club, can experience heat up to 4 times a year, whereas some giant breeds, such as Great Danes, can only do so once every eighteen months.

Estrus lasts 2 to three3 weeks in dogs, though the exact duration varies according to the individual dog. The pet’s vulva is red and enlarged during this time, and a clear or pink discharge may be seen. According to AKC, female dogs become more tense and suspicious.

What Are The Stages Of the Dog Heat Cycle?

Neither an experienced breeder nor a qualified veterinarian can determine the exact timing of a dog’s cycle and dog’s behavior during estrus cycles or heat. This process is purely individual.

Thus, your dog may get a heat cycle earlier than other dogs. But still, there are some physiological norms by which you can approximately determine the puberty of a dog when the first estrus can already come. There are a total of four stages that is being noticed in most dogs. Here are the stages

Proestrus Stage

It is the first stage of a dog’s heat cycle lasting up to 10 days. The dog becomes naughty, excitable, or overly playful, often making urine marks. Characteristic signs are swelling of the vulva and slight spotting from the genitals of the animal. At this stage, there is no ovulation yet, so the dog is not yet ready for mating with male dogs. And thus, there is no need to separate dogs at this stage.

Estrus Stages

It isthe stage of ovulation, occurring on the 10th day from the moment the first bloody vaginal discharge appears. At this stage, the following signs are observed: the dog raises the pelvis, takes the tail to the side, and lets the males approach him. During this period, the bitch demonstrates sexual hunting, taking characteristic poses, indicating readiness for mating. Under the action of estradiol in the body of a bitch, specific signal substances are produced – pheromones. They are excreted from the body with urine and vaginal secretions.

An increase in the concentration of progesterone occurs immediately before ovulation. In most cases, ovulation occurs within 30-48 hours of LH peak. After ovulation, the fertile period begins, lasting from the 4th to the 7th day, counting from the peak of LH concentration.

Metaestrus Stage

It is the final stage of estrus lasting several days. The dog’s estrus stops, she does not accept male company, meaning she does not allow male dogs near her, and the vulva decreases in size. The duration of Metaestrus is up to 10 days. The beginning of the phase is characterized by a decrease in sexual arousal in female dogs (usually 6-8 days after the onset of estrus or 8-10 days after the preovulatory peak of LH).

The bitch ceases to allow male dogs, the swelling of the loop decreases, and the discharge from the vagina completely stops. At this stage, the development of embryos occurs, and the concentration of progesterone continues to grow. Progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum (even in the presence of pregnancy) The placenta does not participate in the secretion of progesterone!

Up to 60 days, the range of fluctuations in the concentration of progesterone in pregnant and non-pregnant female dogs is the same. Differences are manifested in a sharp decrease in progesterone before childbirth, while in non-pregnant female dogs, the decrease in progesterone is gradual.

Anestrus Stage

Sexual dormancy lasting up to 100-150 days. If the pregnancy does not take place, the dog’s body returns to its normal state. In the presence of pregnancy, this phase is the interval between childbirth and proestrus, during which lactation usually occurs. In the absence of pregnancy, the interval between the end of the luteal phase and the onset of proestrus. All external signs of the sexual cycle are absent.

How to Tell If a Dog Is in Heat Cycle?

Being a dog owner, it is important to know the signs of a female dog entering its heat cycle. Here are the most common symptoms of a dog’s heat cycle:

Paying More Attention To Male Dogs:

In case your female dog in heat notices a male dog, it will start “flirting” with other dogs by exposing as well as raising its rear towards his direction and will move her tail. These are the female dog’s instincts when she is in heat. If you want to prevent unwanted pregnancy then you need to prevent your dog from mating with male dogs.

Frequent urination:

This’s among the most common indications that your canine is entering a heat period, particularly in case they are uncharacteristically peeing in the house.

Vaginal discharges and/or bleeding:

A female canine entering the heat period may lightly bleed and/or discharge from her vagina (vaginal bleeding) when she enters the proestrus stage. At this stage, you can use dog diapers to keep your house clean. The bleeding grows heavier and lightens in color when she enters her estrus stage.

Nervously bold behavior:

As a female dog is perspiring mating hormones in heat, she may show unusually fierce behavior. A dog’s heat cycle or estrus cycle causes aggressive behavior in dogs.

Extreme genital licking:

When a female dog is in heat, it will overly clean or lick her genital region.

Other symptoms of dogs in heat contain tail tucking and swollen vulva.

When Do Dogs First Go Into Heat?

Although it varies by breed, a female dog might begin to feel its heat cycle as soon as 6 months of age. A smaller canine may begin to go through its heat period earlier than larger dogs, whose cycle might not start for up to two years of age.

Until they pass away, female canines will continue to go through heat cycles, although the intervals between them will get longer as they get older. There is no menopause in female dogs.

What to Do When Your Dog Is in Heat?

If you see your dog starting her heat cycle, don’t freak out—it’s quite normal! You can ensure that your dog receives the specialized care she requires during her heat cycle by following a few easy steps.

Don’t Leave Your Pup Unsupervised And Outside:

For female dogs in heat who are alone and stays outside then there is a high chance of your dog mating with male dogs and getting an unhealthy pregnancy. So, when your female dog is in heat, make sure you do not leave her alone.

Walk The Pup With A Leash:

Despite her obedience training, you always need to keep your dog on a leash when she is in heat to ensure her safety. The hormones of a female canine in heat will have a significant impact.

Increase Indoor Control:

Keep your dog off of furniture and keep an eye on her locations because she may normally leave some blood spots behind and perhaps stain surfaces. Moreover, you can use doggie diapers to let her enjoy her chosen resting place without leaving stains on the furniture or carpet, making cleanup time more convenient regularly.

dog heat

Use Washable Diaper Liners And Diapers To Stop Messes:

Some bloody discharge or bleeding is expected during her heat period, and she’ll likely have to pee more often than you’re used to. Diapers can help you and your four-legged dog get through this time without any unwelcome stains or accidents by preventing messes.

There are both disposable and washable diaper options available for dogs that you can use in the heat period. Disposable diapers function similarly to a human infant’s diaper and have a separate opening for your pet’s tail. They’re available in several sizes so that you can select the one that’s appropriate for your dog. Sizing should be correct to avoid leaks.


Deploying these cares when your pup is in her heat cycle will guarantee she has a clean, safe, and also manageable experience.

How to Keep House Clean When Dog is in Heat?

During estrus, dogs themselves carry out hygienic care of the genitals, regularly licking the discharge under the tail. But this does not at all exclude the risk of blood stains on carpets, furniture, and other surfaces in the house, which is especially likely during the estrus stage.

The owner should remove soft coverings from the floor, and not let the pet on the bed, soft chairs, etc. It is better to wipe all stains left on the floor immediately. And it is also better if you clean the stain immediately in front of your dog. A smart dog will quickly understand that you need to “clean up”, and will soon learn to lick the bloody stains on the floor in the house on their own.

Some dog owners purchase special disposable panties for dogs during estrus so that blood-tinted discharge does not damage their upholstery or carpet. They are easy to use and eliminate the risk of blood stains on the floor, but at the same time do not allow the dog to carry out hygienic care of the genitals. It is not recommended to wear such underwear to the dog all the time.

In pet stores, the range of hygiene products for dogs during estrus is large and continues to be updated with new products every year.

The opinions of veterinarians about such products differ. First of all, because the dogs themselves do not need them. They were invented by people to protect their furniture and carpets from unwanted marks. From the point of view of hygiene, it is enough to wash the dog once or twice a day with clean water.

How to Stop a Dog in Heat from Bleeding?

Dogs are naturally very clean animals, so during this period, they lick themselves. There is nothing wrong with this, but you need to make sure that your pet does not do this all the time. Especially if she has a lot of discharge. Excessive licking can lead to intoxication and poisoning.

You may think of stopping a dog in heat from bleeding. However, doing that may cause some serious health issues. When you try to forcefully stop them from bleeding it can hurt their reproductive tract and invite bigger problems in the future. So, you shouldn’t stop the bleeding of a dog in heat.

But one thing you can do is control the bleeding with the help of a hygiene product to make sure you do not leave stains all over the house.

But remember that when using hygiene products, they must be changed daily, because during this period dogs are most susceptible to bacterial infections since the genital tract is more open during estrus. For the same reason, do not let your dog sit on the ground or in polluted areas and swim in open water.


A good owner will not disregard the important sexual cycle in the life of a domestic dog. If you control the process of estrus in a female and correctly plan her mating with male dogs, you can eliminate the unwanted pregnancy of a dog from yard dogs and other health problems, and at the same time get breeding offspring that are not inferior in the breed to the parents of puppies.

If the owner did not take care of the domestic dog during estrus and an unwanted pregnancy occurred, in no case should this problem be solved using medical means to prevent pregnancy without a veterinarian’s prescription! Such drugs are selected individually, as they can cause serious health problems for the dog and lead to infertility.

Watch your dog during puberty and be sure to follow the rules for caring for an animal during estrus.

Aapt Dubey
Aapt Dubey

Aapt Dubey, a devoted canine enthusiast and experienced dog Owner, brings boundless passion to our team. With a heart full of love for our four-legged friends, Aapt is dedicated to sharing insights on dog care, behavior, and training to make every pup's life happier and healthier at

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