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Caring For Your Female Dog in Heat

By Tammy Gagne

If you have a female dog who hasn’t been spayed, she will experience heat, which is the span of time during her reproductive cycle when she is fertile. If you’re preparing for your dog to go through heat for the first time, it’s important to understand why and when your dog’s cycle occurs and how to prepare for a smooth experience.

Many female dogs come into season for the first time around six months of age. However, some don’t reach their first heat phase until 18 to 24 months, and the largest breeds may take even longer. These females may be as old as two years old when they go into their first heat. Likewise, the ongoing schedule can vary depending on the dog. Some dogs come into season every four months, others every six, and others only once a year.

Regardless of when your dog’s heat cycle occurs, knowing what happens during this time and how to prepare is key.

Be Mindful When Socializing with Other Dogs: If you have a
female dog in heat, the most important detail to know is that she can become pregnant if she associates with a male during this time. Male dogs are notorious for sensing when a female is in heat and can track her scent from a distance. If you are not planning to breed your female, it’s important to separate her from all males until the heat cycle has ended, which is typically two to three weeks. If you do wish to breed your dog, it is important to keep her away from all males other than the one whom you choose as her mate.

Be Prepared with Diapers and Pads: Heat can also be a messy time, as your female dog will bleed. This blood, which can range from light pink to dark red, can stain bedding, carpeting, and furniture. Fortunately, owners can prevent any leaking or messes by using a diaper until the bleeding has stopped.

There are multiple types of
diapers for dogs in heat to choose from, including disposable and re-usable garments. Wee-Wee Disposable diapers work much like a diaper for a human infant, plus include a special opening to accommodate your pet’s tail. They’re available in multiple sizes so you can find the one that’s right for your dog, ranging from X-Small to X-Large. Proper sizing is important to prevent leakage!

While some show dog owners opt to spay their females once they achieved championship status, many plan to breed. If your female dog will be giving birth to puppies in the future, she will experience several more heat phases. In this case,
Wee-Wee Washable Diaper Garments are a convenient option you can re-use. Pair these machine-washable diapers with Wee-Wee Diaper Garment Pads to offer your pet absorbency and comfort. Simply toss the pad in the trash and launder the diaper before using it again and again.

With an understanding of why heat happens, what to expect, and some simple planning, you and your dog will be prepared for her cycle—no matter what your intentions are during this time.


Four Paws®, Magic Coat®, and Wee-Wee® products are available at major pet stores everywhere in the U.S. Please check with your local retailer or our Where to Buy page for product availability near you.