How to Comfort a Dog in Heat

Discover how long your dog is in heat and how to comfort your dog during her heat cycle.


Intact (unspayed) female dogs typically have two heat cycles per year, driven by rising and falling levels of estrogen and progesterone. These changes in hormone levels can change how your dog feels physically and emotionally. In the days leading up to the start of her heat cycle, a female dog may start to act skittish and startle easily. She may start to act clingy and always want to have you in sight. Her appetite may decrease and she may become less active.

Comfort a dog in heat by giving your dog a little extra attention during her heat cycle. Make sure she continues to eat but don’t force her to eat more than she wants. Let her sleep if she needs it and keep noisy distractions to a minimum.

Once her heat cycle has started, your dog will begin spotting blood from her vulva. She may spend a lot of time licking her vulva to keep that area clean. Dogs with thick fur may require your assistance with keeping the fur around the vulva free of discharge.

You can help support her by making sure that her bedding is always clean. Consider laying an absorbent pad (like a pee pad) on top of her bedding to absorb discharge from her vulva. Dogs who experience moderate to heavy discharge may benefit from wearing a sanitary diaper until the amount of discharge begins to decrease.

How to prevent unwanted pregnancy during your dog’s heat cycle

A dog’s heat cycle typically lasts about two to three weeks. There are two phases to a dog’s heat cycle. Intact male dogs will be attracted to her during both phases, but she will become receptive to mating and can become pregnant during the second phase.

If you do not want your dog to become pregnant, do not leave her unattended outside during the second phase of her heat cycle. Avoid off-leash walks and dog parks. And most importantly, do not let her out in the fenced-in yard without direct supervision. A fence is no match for an intact male dog who wants to mate with your female dog!

Since her outdoor activities will likely be curtailed during her heat cycle to prevent mating, she will need additional indoor activities to keep her occupied. Consider getting her an interactive puzzle toy to provide her with both mental stimulation and physical activity. Play indoor games of fetch or hide training treats inside boxes or blocks that she can search for and find.

The best way to provide comfort to a dog in heat is to not have her go through a heat cycle at all! Having your dog spayed eliminates the risk of developing pyometra (a life-threatening infection of the uterus) and minimizes the risk of developing mammary cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about the best time to spay your dog.


  1. I have a Siberian Husky that showed up in our yard in the fall of 2022. After being unable to locate her owner we decided to keep her. I had worked for a vet, so we shaved her belly and I swear I saw a scar. Much to my surprise the following April she came into heat. She didn’t act like you described at all. About a week before she actually came into heat, She wanted nothing to do with us, she attacked my neighbors neutered male dog, and started running away. We had a tracking collar on her so we were able to track her down, but every chance she got she ran. When she did finally start to bleed she still didn’t act clingy and would have happily run away if she’d gotten the chance. She is spayed now, and never runs away.
    I’d never had an intact female before, and I never will again. We got through it without her getting pregnant, but boy what a nightmare that whole thing was for me.

  2. Many years ago, we adopted a dog from a local shelter. They couldn’t tell if she had been spayed nor could our vet. The consensus was to wait and see and spay later, if she went into heat. Well, she wasn’t spayed. We followed our vet’s advice and had the surgery done after the heat period, as I recall. And then things went crazy — she had a false pregnancy and spent days crying and searching for non existent puppies. She wouldn’t let us near her or her bed and actually dragged an oval dog bed and its pillow through a doorway, through the living room, up a flight of stairs and into one of the bedrooms. She was not a big dog. The whole thing was an awful experience for her and us. I’m sure that nowadays it can be verified whether a dog has been spayed or not. At least I hope so. As I said, it was awful– she was in pain and we couldn’t help.