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If you have an unspayed female dog, you need to prepare for her heat or estrus cycle.
While most animals (including dogs) retain their breeding instincts, your pup may need occasional help from you if a problem arises like difficult pregnancy, bloody messes, uterine infection, etc.
Knowing what to expect, therefore, can prepare you and your pup for any problem during her estrus cycle.
To keep you updated, we’ll try to answer one of the most frequently asked questions about a dog’s heat cycle: How long does a dog in heat bleed?
Before we answer the question, it is important to understand the stages of a dog’s complete heat cycle.
We will also be referring to these stages throughout this post, so understanding them early enough will ensure that we are on the same page whenever we mention them.
Let’s dive in…
Main Stages of A Canine Heat Cycle
A dog’s complete heat cycle has four main phases:
This is the first stage and the onset of the heat period. In this stage, your dog’s body is preparing for the mating process and lasts for about 10 days.
Although your dog will be preparing for the pregnancy phase, she will be unwilling to mate at this stage.
Your dog’s vulva will swell and it is during this stage that she will start to bleed from her vaginal area.
This is the mating phase—when your dog is ready to mate with any male.
It lasts between five and nine days though it can also be as long as 21 days in some dogs.
In this stage, bleeding will lessen and eventually stop. The color of the discharge will also change to straw color.
C. Diestrus phase
This is essentially the stage following the “in heat” phase and often lasts between six and 10 weeks.
Whether your dog gets pregnant or not, her uterus walls will thicken during this stage.
Some dogs may have false pregnancy during this stage. Learn more on this post: Is Your Dog Still Pregnant? 45 Days Pregnant Dog Symptoms.
The vulva returns to normal and the bleeding or vaginal discharge disappears.
Also called the uterine repair phase, your dog will have no interest in mating nor will she manifest any hormonal changes until the next proestrus phase begins.
It can last between 90 and 150 days.
- Dogs go through the heat cycle for the rest of their lives. In other words, dogs don’t have menopause. However, as they age, the bleeding becomes less and the estrus phase lengthens.
- The most noticeable phases are the proestrus and estrus. They are the main phases when a dog is ‘in heat’ and often lasts about 21 days.
- Most dogs come ‘in heat’ after every six months.
So, How Long Does A Dog In Heat Bleed?
Dogs usually bleed during the proestrus stage—when their bodies get ready for the mating stage (estrus phase).
In most cases, this occurs 7 to 10 days before a dog comes into season and usually stops when the estrus stage has begun.
Between the onset of the proestrus phase and the end of the estrus phase is usually 19 to 21 days.
So, most of the “in heat” behaviors and changes that you will see in a female dog will last for approximately three weeks.
What about bleeding?
Well, you will only see significant bleeding during the first two weeks.
Your female dog is most fertile or interested in mating during the second week, and during this time, the bloody discharge begins to subside and slowly becomes lighter in color during the third week.
In the second week, even the swelling of the vulva reduces substantially and most dog owners tend to think that their dogs are out of heat while in the actual sense that’s when the dogs are in their prime fertile time.
However, the above pattern is only what’s typical in most female dogs but it can vary from one dog to another and for the same dog over time.
Can A Dog Bleed After Heat?
Yes, it is normal to see some bloody discharge even after a dog has been bred.
Provided that the discharge is not excessive and your dog is not showing any abnormal signs like being lethargic, vomiting, diarrhea, or not eating, then you shouldn’t be worried because you are likely seeing some remnant bleeding because of the continuation of her cycle.
However, if the bleeding is excessive and continues into the third week of the heat cycle, then you need to get worried and contact your vet for advice.
Your dog may be dealing with conditions like ovarian cysts, which can cause irregularities in a dog’s heat cycle.
Bleeding after heat may also be caused by uterine infection or Pyometra, which is usually life-threatening, especially if not treated in time.
Bleeding after a heat cycle may also be due to a miscarriage, especially if a dog has been accidentally mated. Growth or tumor in the uterus may also cause bleeding.
So, if you notice your dog bleeding after a heat cycle, it is advisable to take her to a local vet for an examination.
The vet will perform a few blood tests to evaluate her hormonal levels, rule out serious conditions, and ultimately help you figure out what could be happening with your pup.
How to Care For Your Dog When She Gets Her Periods
Now that you understand how long your dog is likely to bleed while in heat, you need to know how to care for her or the actions that you should take during this period.
Here are a few tips you can leverage:
- A Little Clean-Up Will Go A Long Way: While your dog will try to keep herself clean during her periods by licking, a little clean-up may be necessary. Consider giving her a light bath or spot cleaning whenever necessary.
- Be Ready To Clean Up: Even if your dog manages to keep herself clean, blood spots may sometimes get sprayed on your floor when she shakes her body. So, you may sometimes find trails of blood posts on your floor. If you have wooden or marble flooring, consider keeping a mop and bucket in hand for cleaning the mess up. Alternatively, put towels down for her, if you always allow her to sit on the furniture. Investing in dog-proof furniture covers is another excellent and long-term solution. Check the best options on this post: 16 Best Dog Proof Couch Covers (Including Clear Options)
- Restrict her access: Another easy way to control the mess is to restrict your dog’s access to areas that are easy to clean up like your bathroom and laundry room.
- Crating: You may also crate your dog for short periods of time.
- Invest in Diapers: Getting your dog diapers or panties can also help contain excessive blood or vaginal discharge. Strive to give your pup time to get used to them first. To be on the safe side, consider preparing your dog for this type of clothing before her heat cycle kicks in. For the best dog period diapers, check out this post: 10 Best Dog Diapers for Periods.
Warning: Diapers/heat pants won’t protect your dog from mating. Some male dogs are very aggressive and creative during this period and will manage to mate your dog despite her wearing the diapers/heat pants. So, your best bet is to keep your dog from males.
- If your goal is to prevent your dog from getting pregnant while she is ‘in heat’, keep her separated from males for 3-4 weeks after the first sign of bleeding.
- And if the whole maintenance process feels like a big hassle, consider spaying your dog. If anything, it comes with a lot of benefits and boosts your dog’s lifespan.
- While being in heat is not an illness, keep in touch with your vet so that you can get help if unexpected things occur.
With a clear understanding of how long a dog ‘in heat’ bleeds, things to expect, and little planning, your dog’s estrus cycle can be easy to manage.
Hopefully, the above tips will help you prepare adequately for your dog’s periods or her heat cycle.
Most importantly, always schedule an appointment with your vet if you notice any abnormal signs like excessive or extended bleeding.
Any health-related questions should also be directed to your vet as he/she can examine your dog and make the best recommendations for her.