At 6 months of age or a little after that for larger dog breeds, female dogs begin to be in heat. This means they are in a fertile season of their reproductive cycle every 6 months or so. This period can come with a bit of discomfort and cause your dog to be fidgety and restless. So, how do you calm a dog in heat?
You can calm a dog in heat by balancing exercise and rest, providing mental stimulation, keeping male dogs away, and showing some extra love. In addition, you can use dog diapers, anxiety vests, and calming chews or relaxants. If you don’t intend to breed your dog, spaying is a permanent solution.
In the rest of this article, I’ll explain these methods in detail so you know exactly how to calm a dog in heat. Let’s cut to the chase!
Use Dog Diapers for Comfort
Most female dog owners use a diaper when their dog is in estrus to protect their carpets, couches, and other home surfaces from stains. However, fitting your dog with a diaper is also comforting for your pet during this period.
Besides, it can save your dog from the stress of having to groom consistently to clean the bloody discharge.
If you go for diapers, ensure they are well-fitting and of a comfortable brand. Otherwise, you’ll only add to your dog’s discomfort.
I have found that the Simple Solution True Fit Disposable Dog Diapers tick all the boxes concerning comfort and fit. These also come in a range of sizes to fit your furry friend.
Also, don’t leave your dog with the same diaper for long hours. You can find more details about how long a dog in heat can wear a diaper in our complete guide.
Balance Exercise and Rest
You may have heard that a dog in heat should be left to rest.
While that’s true, a good amount of exercise is crucial. Exercise distresses your furry friend from the strain that comes with being in heat.
Because being in heat does not change the dog’s nature and needs, your dog still needs its daily dose of walk and play.
Besides, your dog can be prone to boredom and destructive behavior if left idle for those 4-15 days of estrus. Remember that destructive behavior usually results from anxiety, and your female dog can be prone to anxiety when in season.
Because of the biological and physical changes, your dog can become lethargic, appear unusually tired, and show little interest in play. For this reason, exercising a dog in heat comes with an element of caution.
So here are the 3 rules for exercising a dog in heat:
- Avoid strenuous exercise.
- Go for shorter walks around the home.
- Invest more in indoor play.
Keep Male Dogs at Bay by Increasing Indoor Time
Taking our furry friends for walks or outdoor exercise is something we do daily. But, when in heat, it’s best to keep your female dog indoors for the better part of the day.
Because during the estrus phase of the heat cycle, a female dog produces a sex pheromone known as Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate. This vaginal secretion makes her a magnet for male dogs by alerting them that she is in season and ready to mate.
If outdoors during estrus, your female dog will also be attracted to male dogs. Mutual attraction can cause restlessness in your dog.
So, to keep her calm, take only half the time you walk her daily for a shorter walk and keep her on a leash. Leave the dog indoors for the rest of the time.
Show Some Extra Love
Being in season may not be painful, but it comes with some discomfort for your pup. You can be a good parent to your pet by offering extra attention and a bit more love during this period.
Cuddling, massaging, or brushing your dog’s coat are effective ways to help your dog relax and feel loved. That‘s because, just like in humans, loving contact with your dog helps release the ‘feel-good’ chemicals and promotes a sense of bonding.
If you choose a massage, it’s crucial to learn which parts of your dog’s body generate a feeling of relaxation. This short video by the American Animal Hospital Association could be your first lesson on how to massage your dog:
Maintain a Calm Home Environment
Have you heard of emotional contagion, a theory that suggests humans can transfer their emotional status to their pets?
Well, that’s the truth!
If you are agitated, your dog is bound to perceive it and will be anxious too. This is especially true if your female dog is already prone to the anxiety and discomfort of being in heat.
So, it is important that you maintain a calm home environment to help your dog stay relaxed. Also, ensure your pet has its own safe space in the house where it can retreat if the common living space is noisy or too animated. This could be the case in a home with children playing around.
Enhance Mental Stimulation with Environmental Enrichment
Mental stimulation is a productive way of keeping your dog busy and distracted so she doesn’t focus on the discomfort of being in season. You can promote mental stimulation by providing different stimuli and activities and making your indoor space more engaging for your dog, also known as environmental enrichment.
There are many indoor options to keep your dog mentally stimulated when on heat. Below are some of the easy ones to provide:
- Hiding your dog’s food so he can sniff around to find it.
- Offering interactive or food puzzle toys.
- Teaching your pet new tricks.
- Having your dog put away toys after play.
- Promoting sensory enrichment by listening to classical music or sightseeing through a window.
Dogs, like infants, can get easily habituated to toys. So, it is advisable to provide new toys for your dog when in heat.
A study found that dogs get habituated to different toys at different rates and that chew toys were less habituating compared to rope toys and squeaky toys. That suggests you should choose chew toys when buying new toys for your dog in heat.
Consider Dog Calming Chews
Dog-calming chews are dietary or herbal diets and supplements that contain ingredients meant to create a relaxing effect on your dog. Common ingredients in these treats include probiotics, synthetic pheromones, and Alpha-Casozepine.
You’ll easily find these products in their numbers and with enticing descriptions about their efficiency. Nonetheless, it is important to bear in mind that many of them have not been scientifically tested for efficacy and safety in dogs.
For this reason, you should consult your vet before feeding your ‘in heat’ dog with calming treats.
Consider Dog Calming Relaxants
Dog-calming relaxants come in the form of sprays, tablets, drops, powders, or collars. They are made to mimic natural pheromones that calm and relax your pet.
To calm your pet, relaxants must contain properties that produce positive pheromones.
Although calming relaxants are considered safe and work for most dogs, your dog might show reduced sensitivity to the product. As such, veterinarians advise that you use them alongside other behavior and environmental relaxants.
As a general rule, always speak to your vet first before using any dog product. And that also goes for calming relaxants.
Try Anxiety Vests
Anxiety vests for dogs are wraps for calming anxious dogs. The vests exert a bit of pressure on your dog’s torso, creating a calming effect similar to the one provided by a hug. This can bring relief to your dog when in heat.
An anxiety vest brand popular among dog owners is the Thurdershirt Dog Anxiety Treatment. The drug-free, easy-to-use vest applies gentle pressure on your pet and will help your in-heat dog rest comfortably.
Check out the Thurdershirt vest on Amazon below. You can choose what fits your dog best from the available sizes and opt for your favorite color.
As with other dog products, the anxiety vest will work differently for different dogs and owners. Further, it is especially important to note that these pressure vests are a temporary anxiety remedy, not a permanent solution for canine anxiety. That’s why it is best to use them for the short period your dog is in heat.
Spay your Dog
This method only applies to dog owners who don’t intend to breed their dogs. It is a permanent solution to the discomfort your dog experiences when in heat because it stops the heat cycle altogether. It will save you the worry of how to calm a dog in heat.
Spaying also calms your dog because the pet will no longer feel the need to attract or look for mating partners. Besides, there are many other health benefits of spaying your dog.
If you still have questions about calming your dog in heat, these FAQs will come in handy.
Are there Home Remedies for a Dog in Heat?
Most of the methods discussed in this article are already home remedies for calming a dog in heat. Others include:
- Spoiling your dog with their favorite food.
- Keeping away smells that irritate your dog.
- Regularly cleaning the dog with wipes.
- Using essential oils that have a calming effect, like chamomile and lavender, but only after consultation with your vet. These also have a scent-blocking function for a dog in heat.
How Do I Stop My Male Dog From Whining When a Female Is In Heat?
The top 3 ways of calming your male dog when a female is in heat are:
- Keeping the two pets separated for the period the female is in season.
- Masking the scent of the female dog using essential oils or other safe scents.
- Distracting the male dog with vigorous exercise and frequent walks.
Read about more ways to calm your male dog when a female is in heat to help prevent his agitation, restlessness, or aggression.
What Are Some Signs That My Female Dog Is In Heat?
Some signs that your female dog is in heat include:
- The swelling of the vulva.
- A bloody discharge.
- Frequent urination
- Restlessness and a general sense of discomfort.
Noticing these signs will help you know when to apply the methods of calming a dog in heat discussed above.