There is a common misconception that a dog in heat can't be exercised, but that is far from the truth. The average dog will be in heat for 2-4 weeks, so our Fort Collins vets are here to tell you how to safely walk and exercise your female dog in heat.
Should Dogs Exercise When in Heat?
Even when she is in heat, your dog should be exercised to prevent boredom and depression. This is especially important for dogs who are used to being exercised often or have lots of energy to use up. However, the way that you exercise your dog should be modified for her safety.
How To Exercise A Female Dog in Heat
Every dog is different, and all dogs react differently at the start of their estrous cycle. Some dogs exhibit a sudden change in personality and energy levels. Others become more reserved and defensive. If your dog reacts in the former way, it doesn’t hurt to give her extra exercise during this confusing and difficult time.
When your dog is in heat, it can be a very stressful time. To help destress her, exercise is helpful. There is a misconception that female dogs in heat shouldn’t get any exercise, but she still needs walks. Avoid strenuous physical activities, a brief walk around the block will already do great wonders. We also suggest a non-strenuous version of fetch. Teach your dog to play catch with their soft toys to give them some mental stimulation without the excessive running involved with a game of fetch.
How To Walk Your Dog in Heat
When your dog is in heat owners must be extra vigilant in order to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Here are some tips from our Fort Collins vets.
Always have her on a leash
The most important rule when walking your dog in heat is to always use a leash. You must always keep her on a leash, no matter where you take her. Whether it’s down the road, out in the country, or in a park, staying on a leash is important for ensuring her safety. Not only this, but you will need complete control of your dog if she sees and wants to approach a male whilst outside.
Avoid male dogs
Whilst you walk your dog, she will be giving off pheromones that advertise the fact that she is in season. This will attract any unneutered dog in the surrounding vicinity. If a male dog is allowed to, he will follow your dog’s pheromone trail in hopes of mating with her. Whilst walking, stay clear of other dogs to help to prevent disaster, especially males who are off-leash in public. Even males who are on leashes can break free from their owners to follow your dog, so always be mindful of other dogs when out in public.
Cover her tracks
If you live in an area with a lot of free-roaming or off-leash dogs, it’s important to try to cover your female dog’s tracks. Male dogs can be very determined and may follow your own dog back to your front door. Chances are, they could follow you home and wait outside your home for your dog to come outside. So, if possible, put your dog in a car and drive half a mile away or more to walk your dog in heat to reduce the pheromone trail left behind.
Are There Products Available To Help?
Menthol and commercial deodorizers for dogs in heat may help if a male dog appears at a distance but not if he comes closer. If he does, or even smells the urine left by your dog, he will know that your dog is in heat.
Female dog pants or dog diapers may also be an option to lower female scent distribution and reduce the risk of your dog getting pregnant if she meets a male dog. However, they are not contraceptives and should not be treated as such.
The only real benefit of pants is keeping your female dog from making a mess indoors while she is in heat. Wearing them on a walk to reduce scent distribution and the risk of unwanted pregnancy is just a good side effect.
What Are The Stages of a Dog in Heat?
The dog estrous cycle is made up of four stages. These are the proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. The proestrus is the most obvious stage, while the other stages are more subtle.
Proestrus - This stage lasts for nine days on average but can reach 27 days. This is the most noticeable part of the estrous cycle. Your dog may produce blood-tinged discharge and her vulva will be swollen. At this time, your dog will not be receptive to any male’s advances.
Estrus - Ranging from four to 24 days in length. This period is when your dog is fertile and receptive to mating attempts.
Diestrus - Your dog is no longer receptive to males. This stage lasts for two months. Her estrogen levels stay low, while her progesterone levels peak three to four weeks after the beginning of diestrus.
Anestrus - The time between diestrus and the next proestrus. This stage lasts for four months or longer.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.