If they are not spayed, female dogs have periods just like humans do. The first cycle, also called an estrus, tends to happen when the dog is 6 months old, but there are factors that influence this occurrence, such as the weather or the animal’s health.
In today’s article, we’re looking at everything you should know about dog periods, especially if you’re considering adopting or buying a female puppy.
What are the stages of a heat cycle?
Before we move on to describing the symptoms of periods in dogs and other such details, it is important to look at why the period itself happens in the first place. Although it is a little different compared to that in humans, the whole point of the cycle is to result in ovulation and, therefore, the possibility of puppies.
Typically, a dog’s heat cycle can be split up into 4 main stages. There’s bleeding for a period of up to a week or 10 days, then a similar period where the female dog actually wants to be bred, so she accepts to mate with males, and then there’s a final 7 to 10-day period where the dog’s body starts going back to normal.
The final stage consists of the up to 6 months that pass between one estrus and the next, where the female’s ovaries do not produce any eggs, and therefore, she doesn’t have any period, either.
Do dogs produce period blood?
There’s only one answer to this question, and it is yes. Like any other mammal, dogs have periods that result in bleeding, even though they experience their heat cycles at different times throughout the year or at different distances from one another compared to other species.
Some female dogs are unique, so instead of bleeding for one week in the proestrus part of the heat cycle, they might do it until they are no longer fertile. The biggest amount of blood will be noticeable in the beginning, though, so that’s when owners will notice not just the bleeding but also the following:
- Vulva swelling
- Personality modifications
- A little lethargy
- Changes in the dog’s appetite
- Tail tucking between the legs
After the heat cycle ends, your female dog will no longer be receptive to males, will no longer experience any bleeding, and will not have any puppies if she hasn’t mated – for a period of up to 150 days or more (so at least five months).
It’s important to note here that spaying your dog is a good idea if you want to prevent any unwanted pregnancies – male dogs are extraordinarily resourceful when it comes to mating with females in their heat periods, so they will go to any length possible to breed your dog. Plus, spaying prevents some pathologies, such as pyometra (uterine infections), as well as ovarian and breast cancer.
Do dogs get period cramps?
Your dog is not going to be extremely comfortable while they are experiencing their estrus period, especially in the first 7 to 10 days. Not only is their body bombarded by a hormonal charge all of a sudden, but that also results in bleeding, so there is some degree of discomfort that your pet feels.
Pain symptoms can, of course, vary a lot from one dog to the next, but if we’re strictly discussing period malaise, you might notice the following symptoms:
- Anxiety or fear
- Occasional aggression
There’s also a thing called ‘period poop’ where because of the changes that happen at a local level in the dog’s abdomen and pelvic cavity, their normal transit is somewhat influenced, so your pet’s stools might end up being a little softer than normal. Some dogs can actually experience diarrhea when they get their periods.
If the discomfort is a bit higher, they might also experience vomiting or a lack of appetite for food or water, in which case we recommend going to your local vet clinic and seeing what could be at the root of the issue.
How to relieve period cramps in dogs
Unless your veterinarian instructed you to, we advise not giving your dog anti-inflammatory medication, especially if it is not specifically designed for veterinary use. Human NSAIDs can cause real problems in dogs, maybe with the exception of Benadryl, but even that you should give to your pet only in certain situations.
There are pet-specific painkillers, though, and you can ask your vet for a prescription for one. CBD oil treats might help, too, and if your dog tends to experience digestive distress when they start going into their heat cycle, adding probiotics to their diet might solve a bit of the issue.
Some herbal teas might also be beneficial, such as lavender or valerian tea, both of which can calm an anxious dog, especially one that has never gone into heat before.
Keep your dog in a safe, clean, and calm place, and understand that their body is going through some changes right now and that they might not exactly know what’s happening.
If the bleeding is getting out of control, you can use pet-appropriate diapers. In most cases, the amount of blood is not even noticeable, especially if your pet lives outdoors in their dog house in the warm season.