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How To Clean a Female Dog In Heat

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Cleaning a female dog in heat is important for controlling smell, reducing stains, and maintaining good hygiene.
  • Bathing and spot-cleaning are two methods of cleaning, with the best approach depending on the dog's needs.
  • Bathing involves washing the entire body and requires gathering supplies and taking precautions to reduce stress for the dog.
  • Spot-cleaning involves wiping the sanitary areas using a damp cloth or water spray bottle and is less stressful but less thorough than a full bath.
  • Spaying can eliminate the risk of a heat cycle, and cleaning can reduce messes at home, but cleaning too much can cause discomfort and dry skin.
Written by Jay
BsC (Hons) Animal Behaviour & Welfare graduate with a passion for advocating for misunderstood animals.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Thursday 16 April 2020
Last updated on
Friday 12 May 2023
How To Clean a Female Dog in Heat
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Cleaning a female dog in heat is an important process. The most noticeable symptom of the heat is blood. While she may keep herself clean by licking her genitals, she may also need help from you. Her discharge can stain easily, potentially staining your female dog’s fur and your furniture.

Preventing these stains and reducing any foul smells benefits you and your dog. It improves hygiene and comfort for both you and your pet. This article discusses how to clean a female dog in heat, including bathing, spot cleaning, and your frequently asked questions.

Why You Should Clean a Female Dog In Heat

When female dogs are in heat, they should be cleaned for three reasons: to control the smell, reduce stains, and maintain good hygiene. The discharge may or may not have an odor, but regular cleaning can help reduce any unpleasant smells. It’s important to keep an eye out for any new or unusual smells, as these could be a sign of an infection called pyometra, which requires veterinary attention.

Vaginal discharge can stain carpets and upholstery, as well as cause irritation to the vaginal area. Regular cleaning can prevent some mess, but it won’t completely eliminate it. It’s also important to keep your dog’s bedding clean for her own comfort.

Good hygiene practices can help prevent vaginal infections, which are sometimes caused by bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Keeping the area clean and dry reduces the risk of infection. It’s also important to practice good personal hygiene, such as washing your hands before and after cleaning your dog’s sanitary area.

Cleaning a Female Dog in Heat

To clean a female dog in heat, you can practice bathing or spot cleaning. The best approach will depend on your dog’s needs during her heat cycle.

Bathing Your Dog

Bathing involves washing your dog’s entire body. You can bathe your dog whilst she is in heat. However, some precautions must be taken during this time. A bitch in heat is easily stressed and can be more prone to snapping. There are four main ways to ensure that cleaning your female dog in heat goes smoothly:

  • Do not force her
  • Use positive reinforcement
  • Use lukewarm water for comfort
  • Be gentle

Gather the supplies you will need before running the bath. You will require the following supplies:

Ensure that your hands are clean before washing your pet. Slowly lower your dog into lukewarm bathwater and gently wet her down. You may use your hands or a showerhead. Lather dog shampoo into her fur and wash her sanitary area using a washcloth. Rinse all the shampoo using fresh warm water. After making sure that the shampoo is thoroughly washed out, remove your pet from the bath and dry her with a towel. If you wish to use a blowdryer always keep it on low heat to reduce the risk of burns. Always end the session on a positive note! You should offer praise, treats, and comfort to your pet for her cooperation.

Fully bathing your dog has several benefits. Bathing improves hygiene, removes dirt, and maintains a good coat condition. Some dogs may even enjoy bonding time and contact with you. However, there are also negatives to bathing some dogs that need to be considered. Bathing too frequently removes natural oils produced by the skin. This causes irritation and dryness. The process of bathing is also extremely stressful for some dogs. When a bitch is in heat she is more easily stressed and bathing can aggravate her.


Spot-cleaning targets the sanitary areas of your dog. This method is best for dogs who are uncomfortable with a full bath. During a heat cycle, your dog may be anxious and sore. This makes bathing more stressful and spot-cleaning more suitable in some cases.

Ensure that your dog is in a calm state before trying to spot clean. Using a damp, clean cloth, wipe between your dog’s back legs to remove discharge. Alternatively, you can also use a spray bottle of water for easier removal of stains. Make sure that the area is dry by using a fluffy towel or soft cloth. Gently patting the area keeps the area from becoming too agitated. The area will be sensitive and easily irritated if you attempt to scrub it dry.

Spot-cleaning is less stressful than a full bath and is quicker to do. Its downside is that it’s not as thorough as a full bath. It is also less likely to reduce any bad smells because no shampoo is involved. Furthermore, It can also be less effective on long-haired breeds because stains can go deep into the coat. The combination of discharge stains and damp long fur can cause a worse smell.

shower a dog in heatShowering a dog in heat tends to be a little slower than usual. Be gentle!

Avoiding the Heat Cycle

Spaying usually eliminates the risk of a heat cycle. If you do not intend to breed your bitch, it’s usually advisable to get her spayed. This is a common surgery to remove the ovaries and uterus of a bitch. Additionally, spaying prevents some womb infections such as pyometra. The surgery also reduces the production of progesterone. Progesterone is a key sex hormone, actively involved in the heat cycle. It governs libido and prepares the uterus for implantation and milk production.

The AAHA recommends spaying puppies between 4 to 6 months of age. Vets do not recommend spaying your bitch whilst she is in heat because more blood flows to the affected area during this time. Because of this, a waiting period of two to three months after the heat cycle is advised. In rare cases, a bitch still shows signs of heat after being spayed. This is called ovarian remnant syndrome. Ovarian tissue remaining inside the body produces enough estrogen to trigger signs of heat.

How to Clean a Female Dog in Heat – FAQs

If this article hasn’t answered your questions so far, you should find what you need in our frequently asked questions section.

How to Comfort a Dog in Heat?

Your female dog in heat is anxious and stressed and in need of comfort. She will seek more reassurance, sleep, and attention during this time. Adapt to her needs and offer more attention as she requests it. Regular cuddles and extra bonding time will be appreciated. Female dogs in heat often have pent-up energy. They will find comfort in extra play and exercise. The exercise will encourage sleep, leaving less time for anxiety and stress.

Do Dogs Make a Mess When in Heat?

Your female dog in heat will produce vaginal discharge which can make a mess. The discharge is red to pink in color and leaves stains. She will also urinate more frequently. This means she may urinate in small amounts in your house. These two processes signal to male dogs her reproductive state. In some cases, your bitch may enter a heat cycle and not make any mess in a heat called “silent heat.”

Thankfully, there are ways to control and prevent a mess in your home. Bathing, spot-cleaning, and pads can be used to reduce the amount of leaked discharge. Some owners restrict their bitch to an easy-to-clean area of the house. If you do this, ensure that your dog is not isolated from you. Isolation and lack of mental stimulation will stress her and suggest that she is being punished.

Can a Female Dog Go into Heat Without Bleeding?

Female dogs can be in heat and show no bleeding whatsoever. How each female dog shows signs and behaves during her heat cycle varies from one case to another. Some bitches exhibit no discharge at all or may have a very light discharge. This is called a “silent” or “dry” heat. You can identify a silent heat through serum progesterone testing. Intact male dogs can also react to silent heat. Silent heat can be normal for your female dog.

When silent heat regularly occurs it can also indicate a reproductive disorder. Hypothyroidism leads to prolonged anestrus, ovulatory problems, and silent heat. You must seek veterinary advice if your pet regularly shows symptoms of reproductive problems.

Should I Clean my Dog When It’s in Heat?

Your female dog will usually clean herself during a heat cycle. However, she may need your assistance. If she does not clean herself you will need to bathe and spot clean to maintain good hygiene. Cleaning a female dog in heat will reduce the mess in your home. You may wish to combine spot cleaning with other control measures. Diapers and pads are also suitable for your pet. Dog diapers are available in multiple sizes, so you can find one that’s suitable for your dog. If not, then homemade diapers can work just as well.

To conclude, a female dog in heat will clean herself but may need some assistance. You can help by spot-cleaning and bathing her as required. Cleaning too much can cause your dog discomfort and dry skin.

One comment on “How To Clean a Female Dog In Heat”

  1. Ellie

    Our havanese puppy is having her first heat at 9 1/2 months. An experience we’ve never had as we have never had a female dog…..always males. Our Vet told us that one heat should take place prior to surgery to make sure hormones and dog are fully developed. We purchased appropriate velcro panties for her and they are working great. I place half of a panty liner inside to prevent so many changes & helps with cleanliness. She is 8-9 pounds. I remove panties when she goes for a walk or out to potty. I clean the area with warm water as needed and change the pads frequently which is real easy to do. She mostly dribbles….no huge blood flow. 1)Does anyone know how long heat lasts? 2) How long one must wait after heat for surgery? Thanks.

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