Your Dog’s First Heat Cycle & How to Prepare!

Your pet’s first heat cycle can be stressful and messy for both you and your pet. We are here to offer some tips and tricks to make your life easier while your dog is in heat. For medical advice, we recommend contacting your veterinarian.


What is a heat cycle and when will my dog go into heat?

A female dog can go into heat anywhere between 6 and 24 months of age. Typically, smaller breeds are earlier than larger breeds falling on that 6-month to 24-month timeline. Most of them enter their heat cycle every 6 months. Their cycle lasts anywhere between 2 to 4 weeks. There is so much variation between the timelines because every dog is different!

Each cycle lasts around 18 days and is made up of different stages. These are proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. During the first stage, your dog bleeds. This typically lasts about a week. Once the bleeding stops, they enter the second stage. The second stage is when your pet can become pregnant. This “heat” stage will normally last about 2-3 additional weeks. The last stage occurs when your dog is not in a fertile state. Typically lasting 4-6 months!


What abnormal behaviors can happen during my dog’s heat cycle?

There are many abnormal behaviors that can occur during your pet’s heat cycle.

A few include:

  • Bloody discharge and bleeding
  • Swollen genitals
  • Excessive grooming and licking
  • Frequent urination
  • Easily agitated and aggressive
  • Excessive peeing in front of male dogs
  • Arching their back and wagging their tail
  • Overly snuggly 

Will my dog get pregnant during her heat cycle?

Yes, this is when your dog is most fertile and can get pregnant by other male dogs. It is important to keep an eye on your dog when they are outside and keep them on a leash when walking. Your girl will be letting off a scent that can be smelled by male dogs from quite a ways away. Anticipate that you may have to be especially vigilant in preventing your pet’s pregnancy.


How do I keep my dog comfortable while she’s in heat?

This can be a confusing and uncomfortable time for your girl. Especially if it’s her first heat cycle, be prepared for abnormal behavior and lots of cuddles. Most dogs become extremely cuddly during this time. She’s going to need all the extra attention, love, and treats during this time!

  • Never discipline her creating a bloody mess. Calmy reassure her because she might be embarrassed or upset that she left a mess. This is not a time for discipline.
  • Make sure she continues to eat and drink enough.
  • Let her out to potty more often than normal. Your dog may need to relieve herself more often because of all that is going on down there.
  • Lots of exercise. Exercise will both tire your dog out and distract her. Playtime and exercise can keep her calm and use up some of her energy in a productive way!
  • Give your pet calming treats and keep noises to a minimum. A heat cycle can stress out your dog, keeping a calm environment can really help their stress levels, especially if this is their first cycle.


Tips for the mess.

One of the most obvious signs your dog is in heat is blood. Each breed is different, some have spray droplets of blood and some just have drops. Whichever it may be, bleeding typically lasts anywhere from 7 to 10 days. In most cases, larger breed dogs bleed more than smaller breeds. Each dog is unique, but you will get in a routine, similar to an adult female!

Handling the mess:

  • Doggy diapers.
    • Invest in some good doggy diapers! If you are worried about them falling off your pet, there are recovery dog suits and onesies you can slip on over the diapers to keep them in place. Both reusable and disposable diapers are great options!
  • Use one blanket and one bed.
    • If you are anything like us, our girl is allowed everywhere; the bed, the couch, our chairs, her 3 beds in the house, and more. During her heat cycle, we use one blanket and only one of her beds. This way, only one blanket and one bed need washing when her heat cycle is done. When she sits on the couch, we grab her blanket to protect against any mess.
  • Keep wipes and carpet cleaners on hand.
    • Pay close attention to your pet during her heat cycle because staying on top of messes is the easiest way to keep your carpets and furniture clean. Disposable wipes are perfect for quickly swiping across surfaces if they become soiled.
  • Confine your pet when you're out of the house. 
    • If your girl is crate trained, an easy way to contain the mess is to crate her while you are gone. We do not recommend ever crating them for more than 8 hours, but it can be a convenient and comfortable way to keep your house clean.


Having your pet spayed is the best way to prevent heat cycles and make your life a bit easier. Hopefully, this article answers some of your questions and makes you and your pets more comfortable during their heat cycles!


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