Female Dog in Heat Behavior & Tips to Handle a Dog in Heat

Heat refers to the stage in which a female dog’s reproductive cycle becomes receptive to mating with male dogs. Mature eggs are released from the dog’s ovaries and changes in its hormone distribution occurs. While this is a natural process when your dog reaches puberty, her strange behavior during this period can be quite worrisome. Read on for everything you need to know about a female dog in heat behavior and how you can get through your dog’s cycle without any stress.

female dog in heat

Photo by Adam Griffith on Unsplash

Dog in heat symptoms

You will notice some physical as well as behavioural changes in your dog during her heat cycle. You can tell that your dog is in heat when she displays the following symptoms:

  • Bloody or straw-colored discharge from the vulva
  • Swollen vulva
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Being very receptive to male dogs
  • More frequent urination
  • Aggressive, agitated and nervous behavior
  • Change in your dog’s tail position. 

If you notice these changes in your dog’s behavior, you will be better prepared to handle and care for your dog during its heat cycle. 

How to handle female dog in heat 

If this is your dog’s first heat cycle, it can be quite unsettling for both you and your dog. Here are some tips to help keep your dog comfortable and to ensure that this time is as smooth as possible.

Cleaning tips:

  • If your dog lives indoors with you, invest in a good doggy diaper. A comfy bodysuit and suspenders might also be needed on smaller dogs. This will prevent blood spots on your bed or other furniture. 
  • Have a special, designated blanket for your dog to use during this time and place it under your dog whenever she is about to sleep or rest. Again this will prevent blood from spotting your bed or the couch. 
  • Have some disposable wipes on hand at all times so that you can wipe off blood spots quickly to keep it from staining household furniture. 

Preventing pregnancy:

  • Keep your dog on her leash when she’s in heat. She may not head your commands when her hormones are causing her to be intent on finding a male. 
  • Do not let your dog out in the yard alone. Male dogs will be able to smell your female dog’s pheromones from far away. If you have male dogs, keep them away unless you want puppies. 
  • Be aware that male dogs can be aggressive when they sense that there is a female dog in heat nearby. Be alert when you bring your dogs for walks. 
  • Be aware that your dog’s heat cycle is not over when she stops bleeding. She may be producing unnoticeable discharge. 

Keeping your dog comfortable:

  • If it is your dog’s first time in heat, it can be quite a confusing experience. Your dog will need extra love and attention from you in order to be secure that everything is ok. 
  • Do not scold your dog for making a bloody mess, but assure her while you clean it up
  • Set some time for extra cuddles. A safe chew toy can help provide some security for your dog. 
  • Allow your dog more potty breaks as she might feel the urge to relieve herself more frequently. 
  • Ensure that your dog is hydrated by making sure that she has excess to fresh water at all times. 

Preventing complications:

  • Be vigilant and watch for signs of illness. Female dogs can experience health issues such as an uterine infection. Head to the vet immediately if you notice any changes in your dog’s health. 
  • Spaying your dog will prevent complications such as uterine infections that can be dangerous. Consult your vet for advice on the appropriate age or time to spay your pet. 
prevent complication on female dog

Photo by Tamas Pap on Unsplash

How often will my dog go into heat? 

Dogs with regular cycles usually have an average of two heat cycles per year, which are about 6 months apart. Female dogs that are very young or very old may have less regular cycles. Dog breeds what are smaller in size may have three cycles in a year while larger breeds may only have one cycle a year. 

Do male dogs go into heat? 

No. Male dogs do not go into heat. The term ‘in heat’ refers specifically to the time when a female dog is receptive to mating with males. 

While male dogs do not go into heat, they become fertile around 6 months. Larger breeds may reach sexual maturity a little later than small breeds. Once a male dog is fertile, they are capable of mating all year round. 


Having a female dog in heat is a natural dog psychology fact but it can be stressful with all the behavioral changes and the cleaning up that you have to do. Spaying your dog can help with this, and it is probably one of the best ways to manage heat if you do not want to breed your dog. Consult your vet for more advice on spaying your female dog.