If you want to get a dog, it’s important to learn how to be a responsible dog owner. From picking the right dog breed for you and preparing all the necessary pet items, to finding the right things that will help your dog stay healthy, there are many things you need to prepare.
If you get a female dog, you’ll need to be prepared for her ‘periods’ – or, to be precise, her estrus cycles. This is because dog’s periods are quite different from human’s.
One of the questions not many dog owners think about is: Do dogs get period cramps? Are they hard to handle, and is it possible to help your female dog during period pain?
Here is all you need to know about dogs and their periods.
Do Female Dogs Get Periods?
Technically, yes… female dogs do get periods. However, they are very different from the menstrual cycle that humans experience, which is why not many dog owners think of them in the same way.
Dogs have what is called the estrus cycle. Some people prefer to call it a heat cycle, which is why we say that the female dog is in heat.
How Do Dogs Get Periods
Before you learn whether dogs get period cramps, it’s important to understand how heat cycles work.
First, you’ll have proestrus. This is the beginning stage of the cycle, and it’s when the heat starts. During this period, males will be attracted to the female, but she won’t be receptive.
The next stage is estrus. This is when a female is ready to mate, and she is fertile. If a female doesn’t get pregnant, then after estrus comes diestrus, during which the estrogen levels are low.
Finally, you have anestrus; a time between diestrus and the next proestrus. During this time, a female’s body prepares the uterus, especially the uterine wall, for another possible pregnancy.
When a female dog is in heat, there are several physical signs that you may notice. For example, your pooch might appear bloated, her vulva will be red and swollen, and there is a chance of a pink or clear discharge. Because of this, many dog owners prefer to give their pups canine diapers during heat.
At the same time, you’ll likely notice some changes in behavior. Female dogs might become grumpier and more aggressive due to the hormonal changes in their bodies, especially if you have another female dog in the household.
Females will sometimes cry or bark, inviting male dogs with a mating call. While it is rare, they might sometimes even run away – although males are more prone to such behavior.
These misbehaviors will last for as long as your dog is in heat. If you don’t want to wait for up to three weeks until the period is over, the only other solution is mating her with a male dog.
When Do Dogs Get Periods?
Dogs will get their first period when they reach puberty. On average, this happens when they turn six months of age, but this can vary depending on the size and the breed of the dog.
Smaller breeds reach sexual maturity earlier, sometimes when they are only five months old. Opposite of that, large dogs can take more than a year until they have had their first heat.
Most dogs will experience two heat cycles yearly. However, smaller breeds can experience heat much more often, while large dogs, such as
Great Danes or Cane Corsos, may only have them once every 18 months.
The dog’s heat cycle lasts for two to three weeks, although, once again, the exact length is entirely individual. During this time, you’ll notice signs of heat that we’ve mentioned before.
Do Dogs Get Period Cramps?
Just like humans, dogs can experience camps. While the process behind them isn’t the same as period cramps in humans, it can still cause them discomfort.
All dog owners want to know how they can help their dog when it is in pain. However, as many of them don’t even know whether dogs get period cramps, they don’t understand that their dog isn’t feeling well.
Most experts agree that dogs don’t feel the same amount of period pains as humans do. However, as dogs cannot express their feelings verbally or tell you that they’re in pain, this is challenging to conclude.
Fortunately, if you know how to recognize symptoms of cramps, you can know that it’s time to get help for your doggie.
How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Period Cramps?
Usually, all you need to look for are standard heat symptoms: A swollen vulva, bloody discharge, and excessive urinating. However, while these indicate that your dog is in heat, this doesn’t necessarily mean your pooch is in pain.
Most dogs will show certain behavioral changes if the cramps start. This includes misbehavior, panting, crying, or even aggressive behavior!
Also, your female might not be as active as usual, as the pains will prevent her from being her playful self.
What Causes Period Cramps In Dogs?
While we’ve established whether dogs get period cramps, the reason behind this is quite different compared to the cramps we humans can get.
In humans, period cramps (also known as dysmenorrhea) are caused by prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are substances similar to hormones that cause contractions in the uterus wall.
As a result of these contractions, the uterus wall will shed its lining, which will then have to leave the body. This is essentially what human periods are.
The natural process of the uterine lining shedding can be painful to some. This is what causes standard period cramps.
While the reproduction process is more or less the same in all mammals, there are many physical differences that set us apart.
In humans, menstruation is a sign that there was no fertilization. This is why the linings of the uterus wall are shedding – they don’t have a purpose, at least not at this moment.
However, this is quite different with dogs. When your female dog starts bleeding, this means that her reproductive cycle has just begun, and that she’ll soon be able to get pregnant.
As such, dogs don’t bleed because their uterus is getting rid of the lining. In fact, it will get reabsorbed. Estrogen will trigger the blood vessels of the uterus to become very permeable. This can result in bloody discharge.
Dogs don’t have contractions or muscle spasms in order to get rid of their lining. In fact, the entire heat process is quite passive, and it happens without any unusual movement of the organs.
Still, your female dog will undergo severe hormonal changes while in heat, which can give her a feeling of discomfort, including pain similar to cramps. This is one of the main reasons why females howl and cry while in heat. This crying, however, may attract male dogs that are looking to mate.
Can You Give Your Dog Medication For Period Cramps?
If your dog is having issues with menstrual cramps, your vet might prescribe you some medication that will help with the pain.
Keep in mind that you should never give your dog medicine before consulting with a veterinarian. Dogs don’t react to drugs the same way humans do, and giving them human painkillers might end up causing them severe health problems.
Here are some medications your vet might prescribe:
The most efficient painkillers your vet might prescribe are, in fact, anti-inflammatory drugs called NSAIDs. They might help with the pain, possible inflammation, and fever.
One of the most famous anti-inflammatory drugs is aspirin. However, don’t ever try to give your pooch human aspirin. These two are not the same, and it might severely harm your pup.
Some other anti-inflammatory drugs that vets usually prescribe are Previcox, Metacam, Rimadyl, Novox, or Deramaxx.
If this is your first time giving a dog any of these medications, monitor your pup carefully. Sometimes, side-effects can happen, and they can wreak havoc in the dog’s body.
CBD Oil And Hemp Seed
In recent years, both CBD oil and hemp seed have been prescribed to dogs as painkillers. The same goes for any other oil supplement as well as treats that may involve cannabinoids or pain relievers found in cannabis.
CBD oil can be gathered from almost all parts of the hemp plant. This includes leaves, stalks, and flowers. Hemp oil, however, is extracted from the seeds, so it isn’t as strong as it contains fewer cannabinoids.
There isn’t any formal research that would suggest that giving CBD oil is beneficial to your dog. However, many owners would swear that CBD oil is what helped their dog go through a difficult time.
While there are no known side-effects associated with CBD oil, it would still be wise to consult with your vet before you use CBD oil on your dog.
How Can I Help My Dog
Dogs are like family members to us; therefore, it is no surprise that one of the main reasons why we want to know whether dogs get period cramps is so we can know how to help them.
There are four methods you might want to try out:
1. Use A Hot or Cold Pack.
This one is pretty much self-explanatory.
Just like humans, dogs might get relief after you heat up or cool down the painful spot. Try using a hot gel pack or an ice pack, and applying it to your pup’s stomach area. See if this will help her relax.
If it does, keep on repeating this method whenever you feel like your dog is having period cramps.
2. Give It Massages.
Not just any massage – try giving your dog aromatherapy massages!
Essential oils help relieve stress. They can help the entire body relax, which is ideal therapy for cramps. At the same time, massages are known to be good for dog health.
Massages help muscles relax, while also promoting better blood flow. This will also help them get rid of stress and improve their quality of sleep.
If you’re familiar with acupuncture, this is another method you might want to try. If done properly, acupuncture can enhance blood circulation while helping the body release its anti-inflammatory responses.
3. Feed Her High-Quality Foods.
Using high-quality dog food is one of the best things you can do to help your dog feel better. In fact, this isn’t something you should do when your pup is in period only. Instead, you need to think about this every day.
Feed your dog with high-quality products that are age-appropriate. Fortunately, you can find lots of products online on sites such as Chewy and Amazon.
Also, give your pup regular exercise. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to give your pooch the best quality of life possible.
4. Get A Holistic Vet.
If nothing else works, try changing strategies and find a holistic vet. Alternative medicine can sometimes help where others couldn’t.
Keep in mind that even alternative medicine has to be performed by a professional, whether it is a massage therapist or a vet acupuncturist.
Any licensed professional will do as long as they have credentials for the job.
How To Care For A Dog In Heat
Photo from: @appapaws
Other than learning whether dogs get period cramps, many pet owners would want to know how to manage a female in heat and how to make it less messy. Not everyone loves to clean after dogs all day long.
These are some things you might want to do:
• As we’ve already mentioned, the best way to deal with an estrous female is to get diapers. Keep in mind that some dogs might require a comfy bodysuit or suspenders, as diapers might be too loose and fall right off.
• Instead of diapers, you might use a special blankie that she can use. Place it wherever you think your doggie might sit. This includes the bed, the couch, and even the dog bed. Once the cycle ends, if you’re lucky, you’ll only have to wash one blanket instead of a dozen.
• Also, it would be best if you could clean everything up right after the mess has been made. The longer you wait, the higher the chances are of stain developing.
At the same time, you probably want to make your pup feel as comfortable as possible during this not-so-pretty period. Here are a few things you can do:
• Females will feel more snuggly than usual, so try to give them a bit more attention than you normally would. If possible, let them sleep on the bed with you, or even allow them to go under blankets.
• Give them a nice chew-resistant toy. This will provide them companionship and a sense of security.
• Don’t scold your pup if she makes a mess. She doesn’t understand how this is wrong. Instead, calmly reassure her and let her know you’re not angry.
• Some female dogs might forget to eat while they’re in heat. Make sure she is eating well. Don’t forget about water as well.
• Finally, give your pooch plenty of toilet breaks, as she might be feeling the urge to relieve herself more often than usual.
Should I Spay My Dog?
The only way to prevent heat and to stop wondering whether dogs get period cramps is to spay your female dog.
All experts agree that spaying and neutering dogs has many benefits. These two procedures serve not just as a method of doggie contraception, but they are rather useful for the dog’s health.
Neutering is the removal of the male dog’s testicles while spaying is surgery to remove a female dog’s ovaries and uterus. Spaying is a lot more invasive than neutering, but this shouldn’t stop you from doing it. This is a standard procedure, and the chances of something going wrong are minimal.
Spayed females won’t go into heat, which means less cleaning for you. More importantly, spaying can deal with some behavioral issues that you’d likely have with a non-fixed female. Your pup will stop calling for mates, and she’ll be much calmer and friendlier.
Some breeders even require their buyers to sign a contract according to which they are obliged to spay and neuter their dogs as long as they are old enough.
Of course, if you plan on breeding your dogs, then dealing with period cramps and heat cycles are something you should get used to. Other than spaying, there is no other way to stop your pup from experiencing periods.
Spaying can also help prevent many health conditions, including several types of cancer. In fact, it is proven that spayed females live much longer than unspayed ones. They usually live longer than neutered males!
Because of all of this, we would highly encourage you to spay or neuter your pets. This will likely be the best option for not just you, but your doggie as well.