5 things to know about a dog in heat

Do you have a female dog that isn’t spayed? Here’s what to expect when she goes into heat!

It’s important to be prepared when your female dog goes in heat. It can help with unwanted pregnancies, and to prepare for any changes during her cycle. So what can you expect and what should you look for? We’ve got the answers right here.

1. How long does a dog in heat bleed?

This is one of the most common questions with a very surprising answer. A female dog in heat will bleed anywhere from 2–4 weeks. It won’t be heavy bleeding all the way through, and the blood will gradually taper when they near the end of their cycle.

There are four stages during the heat cycle, the proestrus, estrus, diestrus and anestrus stages respectively. Dogs typically bleed during the proestrus and estrus stages.

2. Appetite changes

A dog in heat may experience many symptoms, with appetite changes being a prevalent one. Your dog may resist her food, become a pickier eater, or become more ravenous. When you notice significant dietary changes, it could indicate that the heat cycle is about to start.

You need to cater to her changes and provide something delectable her taste buds can’t ignore. Consider pivoting to raw food or, at the very least, top her kibble with a raw or fresh food topper. Most dogs love the taste!

3. Behavioral changes

As you would expect, a female dog in heat will pay more attention to her male admirers. Or in some cases, a more “conservative” female pup will start to hide and run away to practice evading potential male advances.

Other behaviors you might notice include frequent urinating or even raising her leg awkwardly while male dogs are around. She may also exhibit lazy tendencies and want to do nothing but lie around the house all day or become more affectionate with you.

4. Physical changes

You may notice swollen nipples on your female dog and swelling of the vulva while she’s in heat. Of course, like humans, these symptoms vary from dog to dog with some showing very obvious signs while others do minimally. When you notice spotting, the proestrus, or the first stage in the heat cycle is about to start. The bleeding will turn heavy and then start to decrease during the estrus period and going forward.

5. How to handle the heat

When your female dog is in heat, there are certain restrictions to her previous lifestyle you must enforce. For example, off-leash walks are no longer recommended. No matter how well-behaved your dog is, there is no amount of training that can override their natural instincts.

If your dog is lazier, don’t force her to go on walks if she just isn’t up for it. However, if she tends to be the more restless type, then by all means take her on more walks.

The bottom line is, no matter where you are during the heat period, keep an eye on any changes in your pup. The more you get to know her, the more you’ll get to know her cycle!


Jess is an avid dog-lover who grew up with two Jack Russell Terriers, Hot Dog and Ketchup, and an American Eskimo named Topher. Jess' life is never boring and full of loyalty and love from her fur babies. Being able to educate others about animal health and lifestyle, and being a doggy mom herself, gives Jess insight into what’s important when making the right choices for her cuddly pals.