Women have a period once every month or so. Dogs also get periods, but not once a month. Instead, unspayed female dogs release discharge that lasts about three weeks once every six months. This may be bloody, yellow, or white depending on the stage of the dog's cycle. As Care.com explains, this part of the dog menstrual cycle is often referred to as being "in heat" or "in season." These periods can be messy since dogs can't exactly use pads or tampons.
How to Deal With a Dog's Discharge When She's in Season
Dog in heat symptoms
Before you know your dog is in heat, symptoms like being more cuddly, paying more attention to male dogs, hiding from male dogs, eating less frequently, urinating more frequently, trying to mount other dogs, or letting herself get mounted can be indications that she's in season, says Tractive. Of course, discharge is also a common symptom, and you might also notice that male dogs are suddenly popping up out of nowhere and won't leave her alone. If you aren't sure if she is in heat, you can look downstairs too. A dog in heat will be very identifiable since a dog vulva while in heat will be up to four times its normal size.
Understanding dog discharge
While fertile human females are constantly going through their reproductive cycle, dogs only go through it for three weeks out of every six months. That means they menstruate and then ovulate almost immediately after.
When a dog's cycle first begins, Doglistener says you may notice some yellow discharge. Soon, it will become bloody when she starts her period. As the period wanes and ovulation begins, the discharge turns from red to pink and will be clear when ovulation is in full swing, according to VCA Hospitals. It's at this point that a dog can get pregnant.
Dealing with dog discharge
Dog discharge can be very messy, so it can be tempting to leave your dog outside while she is in heat. This is not a good idea, though, as male dogs can smell a female in season from as far as 7 miles away. Male dogs are often undeterred by fences or other obstacles and will climb, dig, and crawl their way into the enclosure of a female in heat in order to mate.
Of course, if you keep her inside, that means your dog's discharge could get all over everything, and it's not only messy but also smelly. That's why the best option is to keep her in a tiled or concrete area like your garage or basement. If your dog will stay behind a baby gate without breaking through, this can be a good option for confining her that will not make her feel isolated behind a closed door, though many dogs will simply jump over or break down such barriers.
You may choose to crate your dog as well, but if you do this, be sure you put the crate somewhere where she will be around her family and not be lonely. Also, be sure to give her plenty of exercise. Never leave her in the crate so long that she feels like she is being punished.
There are also specially designed dog period panties available at pet stores to contain the discharge, but some dogs will do anything they can to remove them, so they will not work for every pet owner.
If you really don't want to deal with the dog's discharge, you can always have her spayed, which will stop her from going through her cycle ever again. This will also help ensure that you'll never end up with a litter of unwanted puppies.