Female puppies will go into estrus, also referred to as "heat," once they reach sexual maturity. If this happens, you can regularly bathe your puppy to reduce the scent of her pheromones so she is less likely to attract the attention of a male dog.
When your puppy will reach sexual maturity can vary from around 6 months of age to 18 months of age. Although the best way to stop your dog from experiencing a heat cycle is to have her spayed, you can do a few things like bathing her to keep away potential mates.
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Why bathe a puppy in heat?
When puppies go into heat, their bodies will produce pheromones that they emit from their genital area. These pheromones are used to attract male dogs to the area so that they can mate with them. Female dogs emit these dog-attracting pheromones through their urine. Whenever they urinate, these pheromones will emit a powerful scent that only other dogs can smell. They will also bleed during their heat cycle from their vulva.
To combat the scent of your dog's pheromones and deal with the blood from her menstruation cycle, it's best to regularly bathe and clean your puppy while she's in heat.
How to bathe a puppy in heat
To bathe a puppy in heat, use warm water and gentle shampoo designed specifically for dogs. Human shampoo or dish soap is very drying to a dog's skin, especially the delicate skin of a puppy. Gently wet your puppy down in a bathtub or kitchen sink and lather her up with the dog shampoo. Specifically lather the genital area to remove the scent of the pheromones.
Allow the shampoo to sit for a few minutes before completely rinsing it out. Finish off the bath with a dog-specific conditioner to keep your dog's skin and coat shiny and rinse it off as well. Dry off your dog with a soft towel and keep her warm on a heating pad or in a heated pet bed until her fur is completely dry. Puppies can become chilled very easily, so it's important to keep them nice and warm as they dry off.
How to clean a puppy in heat
Bathing a dog in heat can help remove the scent of her pheromones and the blood that she emits during her heat cycle. This cycle can last around two to four weeks in total and occurs every six months to a year, depending on the size of your dog. Larger dogs tend to go into heat less often than smaller dogs.
During the heat cycle, you can bathe your dog once or twice so you don't dry out your dog's skin and coat. To combat the scent of your dog's pheromones between baths, gently use pet cleansing wipes on your dog's genitals after she urinates or spot clean the area in a sink. This will keep the area clean of blood and remove the scent of the pheromones from her coat.
Another option is to use a powder like Heat-X for dogs that you dust on your dog's genitals after she urinates. The powder contains ingredients that help mask the scent of your dog's pheromones. Or, use a spray scented with essential oils to dilute the odor.
Dealing with a puppy in heat
The only way to prevent your puppy from going into heat is to have her spayed. You can have your puppy spayed as young as 8 weeks old, if they are healthy, which means that your puppy will avoid having to go into heat at all. After spay surgery, don't bathe your dog for at least 10 days.
Even if you plan to breed your puppy, it's best not to breed her as a puppy while her body is still developing. For this reason, keep your pup indoors or in a securely fenced yard while she is in heat, away from male dogs, use doggie diapers to contain her period blood if it's heavy, and clean her regularly after she urinates to reduce the amount of pheromones her body emits.