When a female dog is coming into heat, pet owners usually either panic a little or pretend the situation isn’t happening and treat their dog as they normally do. Just be clear, neither reaction is the right one!
Here are some DO's and DON’Ts for parents of dogs in heat.
DON’T: Leave Your Dog Outside Alone
The most important thing you need to do for your dog is to protect her from strange male dogs and an unwanted pregnancy. Male dogs can smell your female from miles away, and the call of that scent is strong. Even males fenced in yards will attempt to jump their fence and yours to get to your female. So never let your dog into your back yard alone! You must protect your female when she is in heat, at all costs, because she tends to be a wanted woman!
DO: Exercise Your Dog
There is a misconception that female dogs in heat shouldn’t get any exercise, but she still needs walks. But NEVER walk your dog off-leash. This is a no-no for any dog, but especially a female in heat. While you may think she is the best trained dog on earth, no obedience training can outsmart animal instincts. Your dog WANTS to mate when she is in heat, and this can cause her to go a little crazy and lose control (It sounds a little dramatic, I know, but it is serious)! She is apt to take off running and could eventually become lost or hurt. Always walk your dog on a leash.
DO: Give Your Dog Some Extra Love and Attention
The changes that happen to your dog when she is in heat are not just physical, they are mental and emotional as well (ladies, some times you can relate to this on a personal level, am I right?). She may feel anxious during these times, so it is always a good idea to give her some extra love and attention when she’s in heat. This could mean playing with her more, brushing her, or just to give her some extra "lovin's." Make sure to always have some extra time for her.
DON’T: Allow Her Around Other Dogs
As we’ve mentioned, when a dog is in heat, both she and male dogs in the area have big instincts that kick in, and these instincts yell at them to MATE, maybe not literally, but definitely figuratively! It’s best to avoid places where other dogs hang out while your dog is in heat. This means no training classes, dog shows, doggy day care, dog park, or even taking her into Petco with you, because no one wants things getting out of control.
DO: Strike a Balance Between Rest and Exercise
Different dogs will react differently to being in heat. Some may feel restless and need a bit more exercise, while some may feel tired most of the day. It’s important to really observe your dog’s behavior and offer the right amount of rest and exercise for her. You know her best, so you have to know what is right for her and what makes her most happy and comfortable.
DO: Use Doggie Diapers
One of the most common heat symptoms in dogs is a bloody discharge, and this can be off-putting when it gets on your carpet or furniture. Do you want a nice blood stain on your bed or on your couch? Most of you will hopefully answer no. So we have a perfect solution for you: the best thing to do is have your dog wear diapers for dogs in heat. They will be a saving grace for you and your home. These may actually help to mask her scent when she’s outdoors, as well!
DO: Consider Spaying Your Dog
We highly recommend you have your dog spayed. While you may think that spaying is not natural and therefore cruel, there are numerous health advantages to spaying, not the least of which is a reduced risk of developing certain cancers. Speak to your vet to find out the benefits of spaying your pet.
Your dog is part of your family, so it’s important that you do everything you can to make sure she is safe, healthy, and happy during heat.