Love is in the Air: What to do About your Dog in Heat

There are some basic precautions to follow when you have a female in heat. As she goes through her unique cycle of reproduction she will no doubt have an affect on those around her and need your protection and supervision to keep her safe and to prevent any unplanned pregnancies.


You may notice that your female dog is in heat if she appears nervous, easily distracted and more alert than usual. She may also urinate more often than she normally does. She may exhibit changes in her behavior caused by a shift in her hormone balance and initiate sexual interactions with other dogs like elevating her hind quarters toward males when they approach, deflecting her tail to one side and tensing her rear legs. Initially, she excretes vaginal discharge that is blood-tinged and the vulva is swollen. When the female is receptive to males, vaginal discharge decreases in amount and is straw-colored.

If you have detected that your female is in heat, what do you do next?

The first and most important precaution is to never leave your dog in the yard alone. Protecting your dog from male dogs and unwanted pregnancy is priority number one when your dog is in heat. A dog who is usually fine to let outside without a leash to do her business quickly and come back is the same dog who can dart out of the yard never to be seen again as she is driven by her natural instincts to find a mate near or far. She should be kept on a leash or tether in the yard and especially on walks where she may encounter other dogs from the neighborhood. She is likely not to respond to usual commands to come and stay and her scent will influence the other dog to do be rebellious as well. Having control in such a moment is critical.

Your female dog excretes a strong and distinct scent while in heat that works as a magnet to attract male dogs to her. Otherwise obedient male dogs are powerless to this scent and even the most obedient of dogs will lack the self control needed to withstand the luring scent. As the owner of a female in heat it is your responsibility not to socialize your dog during this time. Unless of course it is for breeding purposes. Cancel trips to the dog park and obedience classes and even dog shows until your pooch is out of the cycle.

The same scent that attracts male dogs to your female can serve as a trail of breadcrumbs that leads them to your home after a walk around the block. Consider breaking the trail  by driving to a near by point to start and end the walk from there and  then driving home in the car. Some have even used a drop of menthol at the tip of the female’s tail to mask the scent when there is a possibility she will encounter other dogs.

Since it is not uncommon for females in heat to excrete some blood you may consider putting pants or doggy diapers on your pup or keeping her out of certain areas of the home to prevent any staining.

Finally, if you never intend to breed your dog you may want to get her spayed. While some may think this an unfair procedure it is important to consider whether you want your dog to continue to go into the heat cycle year after year and being overwhelmed with a desire to mate that you have no intention of ever allowing her to act upon.

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