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If a female dog is not fixed, she will go into heat starting at the age of about nine months. The most obvious sign of a dog being in heat is vaginal bleeding, but they can also experience an increase in urination (because urine has scent signals that can attract a male dog to her), and you may notice her agitated more than usual, licking her genital area, and holding her tail in a different way. Unless your dog stays outdoors 24/7 (ideally with adequate shelter and provisions to be comfortable,) she'll need to be dressed in dog period diapers to keep blood and discharge from staining your floors and furnishings.
According to VCA Hospitals, an unaltered female dog will usually go through about two heat cycles per year, and with a heat comes spotting or bleeding. Although there are store-bought dog diapers available for purchase online and at pet shops, making your own at home can be easily done with just a few basic materials and a little time.
DIY dog diapers
Diapers for dogs in heat can really be made from any absorbent material that will cover your dog's vagina. Some people opt to use diapers designed for children on their dogs, assuming their dog is small enough to fit into them. To make a DIY diaper out of an existing diaper, simply cut a hole for your dog's tail to fit through and secure the diaper around your dog's waist as one would a baby. The same things can be done with a baby onesie, which usually fit well on small dogs.
Dog diapers from old materials
An easy way to get a homemade diaper on your dog is to look to materials that you already have in your home. The easiest upcycled dog panties involve human underwear with a hole cut in the back for your dog's tail. Be sure to use brief-cut underwear or string-tie bikini bottoms, no boxers, in a size that's small enough to fit around your dog's waist without falling off, suggests K9 of Mine. For extra protection, you can line the underwear with a sanitary pad, pantyliner, or cut a bit from a puppy pad and change it out as needed.
You can also make a diaper out of an old T-shirt, which may be a better fit for larger dogs who may not be able to comfortably slip into human undies. A DIY dog diaper made from a shirt requires no sewing, though the final fit may wear a little loose and may not be best for dogs with a heavy flow. To make a dog diaper from a T-shirt, start by laying the shirt out flat, then fold the seam of one sleeve to about the center of the neck of the shirt. Do the same thing on the other side and then fold the top down until the shirt forms a T-shape, fold the lower half of the shirt up until it's the correct size and shape, and then put it on your dog so that her tail pokes out through the neck hole.
When DIY doesn't work
Sometimes crafting homemade items for your dog in heat can add up to time and money you don't want to spend. Innovative dogs can find a way to wiggle out of onesies, dislodge diapers made for humans, or chew up and make a mess with sanitary pads. Wrap-style doggie diapers such as Pet Parents Washable Dog Diapers stay in place and are more comfortable with a pet-oriented design.
Each diaper has a sewn-in absorbent pad that holds up through many trips through the washing machine. The high cut allows your dog natural freedom of movement, meaning it won't rub or be uncomfortable for her. An elasticized tail hole keeps moisture in. The snug fit is more likely to deter successful mating than a loose-fitting human diaper.
For travel or other times when washing is inconvenient, use disposable varieties of female dog diapers such as Simple Solution Disposable Dog Diapers for Female Dogs. The dog-specific diapers have fur-friendly closures that won't pull your pup's hair or leave gummy residue behind.
Caring for dogs in heat
Of course, dealing with a dog's period is only part of caring for a dog in heat. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, dogs in heat may also need to urinate more often, so be sure to allow your dog more bathroom breaks than usual if this is the case with her. Dogs in heat may also be a little more anxious or nervous during this time, so keep an eye out for any triggers and offer her as much quiet, serenity, and structure as possible.