How to help a dog in season

How to help a dog in season

If you’re planning on breeding from your bitch, you might look forward to the time she comes into season. If not, a dog ‘in heat’ can be quite challenging to look after.

Here we’ll highlight some of the telltale signs that your bitch is in season and show you how to cope with the potential change in her behaviour.

Dog insurance from Purely Pets gives you access to a 24-hour vet helpline. So if you have any questions about your pooch being in heat, or a potential pregnancy, you can call the specialists 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


What does ‘in season’ mean?

Female dogs that have reached maturity (between six months and two years of age) but have not yet been spayed, will naturally come into heat once or twice a year.

This means that this is the time when they could become pregnant. Being in heat (or in season, as it’s also known) can last for about three weeks.

A husky laying on a living room floor

What are the signs your bitch is in heat?

A dog’s heat cycle can be broken down into four key stages. These are:

  1. Proestrus (spotting of blood and swelling of the vulva)
  2. Estrus (when the dog is fertile and ready to find a mate)
  3. Diestrus (the dog is no longer fertile, whether they’re pregnant or not)
  4. Anestrus (the resting stage that lasts 100 or so days before the heat cycle starts again).

Watch out for any of these telltale signs that your beloved pooch is coming into season:


  • Vulva swelling

You will notice that your dog’s vulva has increase in size and become quite prominent. The amount of swelling can vary from dog to dog.


  • Red, bloody discharge from the vulva

    This is where the lining of the uterus becomes softer and ready for a potential pregnancy. You may notice spotting on the floor or your dog licking that area excessively.


  • High activity levels

Some dogs get restless or very tired during this period of heat.


  • Increased aggression

Your pup may start to display anger or aggression towards other dogs, especially males who try to mate with her that she doesn’t want to mate with.

However she may well display increased mounting behaviour, even trying to mount your leg, cushions and other objects around the house.


  • Increased appetite

Your pooch may seem hungrier than normal when she’s in heat. Equally those bitches who act more lethargic may seem disinterested in their food and have a lack of appetite.


  • Increase in unwanted attention

Male dogs will go to great lengths to reach an unspayed female in heat, so keep a close eye on your pup and don’t leave her unattended, tied up outside shops and so on.


  • Frequent urination

You may notice your pooch urinates more when she’s in heat. Be aware though that increased urination could also be a sign of a urinary infection.

If you’re not sure, speak with your vet immediately.


  • Tail tucking

Your pup may hide her tail between her legs in the early stages of heat. No she’s not scared, she’s just protecting her vulva.


Will my dog’s behaviour change when she’s in season?

A dog laying with its owner getting attention

Just like humans, all dogs are different and will display different behaviours when they’re in heat.

Some pups may demand more of your attention and become overly clingy.

Others may become more aggressive or stop following instructions that they would normally do.

It’s your job as a responsible pet owner to learn what’s normal for your pup and to help her accordingly.

Female dogs in heat may try desperately to reach male dogs – something that they might actively avoid at other times of the year.

That’s why you should always keep a close eye on your pooch when she’s in season and never let her out of your sight.

The urge to mate might make her run away and get lost, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar place.


Should I separate dogs while they’re mating?

If your dog does get ‘caught’ with another hound, do not attempt to separate the two animals. This could cause injury to either hound.

Instead, there are injections that a vet could give if you wish to avoid unwanted pregnancies after two dogs have mated. Speak to the Purely Pets 24-hour vet helpline if you have any questions.


Top tips for helping a dog in season

  1. Try to avoid talking your pup for a walk when there will be lots of other dogs around.
  2. Avoid open spaces like parks if there will be lots of dogs running off the lead.
  3. Keep garden gates closed to deter other dogs wandering onto your property.
  4. If you do encounter other dogs on your walks, try to distract your pup with games and treats.
  5. Use a GPS tracker to keep tabs on her whereabouts in case she runs off in the heat of the moment!
  6. Dab some menthol on the tip of your dog’s tail to help mask the scent.


Should I get my dog spayed?

If you don’t intend to breed from your pup, you should seriously consider getting her spayed.

Not only will it protect her from unwanted pregnancies, it can also help to reduce the risk of certain diseases like cancer.

If you want to spay your dog it’s best to do it after around eight weeks old and before she enters her first season.


Protecting your pooch with dog insurance

As a responsible pet owner, you’ll want to do everything you can to protect your hound, whatever life stage he or she is at.

Dog pregnancies can require expensive vet treatment, so you need to know that you’re financially protected against high vet bills.

That’s why it’s a good idea to get the right dog insurance in place as soon as possible.

Purely Pets lets you manage your dog insurance policy online at a time that suits you. We can offer lifetime cover from £1,000 to £15,000 with a choice of excess level so you can find the right policy for your pup and your pocket!

Get a quote today.