Do Dogs Get Period Cramps

Do Dogs Get Period Cramps

Period pains are prevalent among women around the world. According to different global studies conducted in varying years, the presence of period cramps ranges from 16% to 91%. Since dogs also experience periods, many pet owners wonder if their fur babies experience the same discomfort. Do dogs get period cramps like humans? Read further and discover the answer.

Do Dogs Get Cramps On Their Periods?

Dogs may feel discomfort during their period. Dog owners may notice some whining or crying from their pets. Other dogs may lose interest in physical activities or lose an appetite for food. These signs make fur parents assume that their pooches are having period cramps.

However, the pain dogs experience during their period is not exactly the same as the cramps in women. This is because the canine reproductive cycle is different from that of humans. For us to understand their difference, let’s backtrack a bit. What is the cause of period cramps in women? Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for painful periods in women. Every month, the uterus sheds its lining if pregnancy does not occur. This results in a discharge of blood and tissues out of the reproductive organ. This process is called menstruation.

For bleeding to occur, the uterus needs to contract to push the tissues out. Contractions are made possible by a hormone called prostaglandins. A high level of prostaglandins increases uterine muscle activity causing painful cramps. After each menstruation, a new egg is produced during ovulation and the uterus renews its lining. This is to prepare for any fertilized egg in case pregnancy happens. If not, it continues with the same cycle all over again. All of these activities in the female human body are influenced by the rise and fall of different hormones.

Similarly, a dog’s reproductive cycle is also controlled by hormones. Just like humans, a dog’s ovaries also release an egg that will stay and develop into offspring in the uterus. However, the specific reproductive processes between humans and dogs are different. In humans, periods happen every month and signify the end of the cycle. On the other hand, periods in dogs happen only twice a year and mark the beginning of their fertility.

What Is “Period Cramps” In Dogs’ Terms?

When dogs bleed, it indicates the start of a heat cycle. So, it’s a sign that a female dog can mate and become pregnant. Do dogs get cramps when in heat? Dogs don’t shed their uterine linings like humans. In contrast, dogs reabsorb them instead. The blood coming from the dog’s vulva is not a result of uterine contraction and discharge. Instead, it’s the result of an increase in the female hormone estrogen. It triggers the dog’s uterus to be more absorptive.

During this process, diapedesis happens which means blood vessels leak through. This causes bloody discharge in dogs. Diapedesis is the transmigration of blood cells through the gaps in the blood vessels. It doesn’t entail any muscular contraction, spasm, or cramps. So, do dogs get menstrual cramps? Technically speaking, dogs don’t experience cramps when in heat.

But, without the cramps, are dog periods painful? Dogs can still feel a different kind of discomfort when in heat. However, it could be due to other reasons and not caused by cramps. Hormones take charge of your dog’s heat cycle. The surge in their hormone levels may cause fatigue, irritability, or fear, especially if it’s your dog’s first heat cycle.

The whining and crying that you observe in your pooch may not always mean they are in pain. It could be their way of luring potential suitors to let them know she is in heat.

How to Tell If Your Dog Has Period

Now that we have tackled the general differences between human and dog periods, let’s dig a bit deeper. Let’s check out the details of a dog’s reproductive process so you would know how to tell if your dog has a period.

Typically, dogs begin their first heat cycle when they reach 6 months of age. However, this may vary depending on the breed and size of the dog. A dog’s heat cycle is divided into four stages. Let’s tackle each one of them.

1. Proestrus

This is the first stage of the heat cycle. It lasts around 3 to 17 days. The average number of days for most dogs is 9. The most noticeable sign that this stage has begun is the swelling of the dog’s vulva. You can also observe some bleeding from the dog’s vagina during this phase.

As previously mentioned, this bleeding is not the shedding of the endometrium but the reabsorption instead. Your pooch may also tuck her tail, which means that at this time, she isn’t receptive to males yet. You may also notice some appetite changes. Your dog may eat more than usual, and this is still caused by hormonal changes.

2. Estrus

The fertile stage starts during the second phase of the heat cycle. Your dog’s ovaries release the egg for fertilization during the estrus stage. At this time, your pooch will be receptive to male dogs. You’ll see that she’ll follow her mating instincts and start flirting with potential suitors.

Your dog’s discharge will lighten and her vulva will soften during this stage. Fertile females will tend to urinate more frequently and lick their private parts more often than usual. They will also release a specific scent to arouse male dogs.

3. Diestrus

This phase signals the end of the heat cycle. The fertile window comes to an end and your dog will no longer be interested in mating. This stage lasts between 60-90 days. If pregnancy occurs, the diestrus stage lasts until the puppies are born from the 60th to the 68th day.

If your pooch did not mate during the fertile stage, the diestrus phase may last until 90 days. The most common sign that the heat cycle is done is when your dog’s vulva returns to its normal size. The swelling will subside and your furry pal would stop her flirting behaviors toward male dogs.

4. Anestrus

The final stage of the heat cycle is the resting phase. This may last from 3 to 5 months, and even longer for larger breeds. During this phase, there will no longer be any vaginal discharge present. Uterine healing also happens during the anestrus stage for previously pregnant dogs.

Hormone levels also go back to normal during this stage. So, your dog will not be receptive to mating anymore. Your dog’s body will also prepare for the next proestrus after 100 to 150 days.

Do Dogs Feel Pain During Their Period?

We’ve established that dogs don’t deal with period cramps the way humans do. But despite the absence of cramps during her period or heat cycle, dogs may still feel pain. Some of the abnormal behaviors dogs show during their period suggest they might be in pain. According to a study, dogs and cats have neurotransmitters and neural pathways similar to humans. Thus, it’s possible for them to feel pain like we do.

The same study suggests that losing interest in activities, frequent messes, and aggression may signal pain. However, dogs may not feel the same intensity of pain compared to humans. Since dogs are not able to communicate how they feel, we are only left with assumptions, and more studies are necessary to prove this point.

Nevertheless, you should still watch out for common signs of pain or other health issues when your dog is in heat. These may include:

  • Trembling
  • Excessive panting
  • Twitching her back
  • Whining
  • Sensitive reaction to touch
  • Restlessness
  • Arching her back
  • Aggression
  • Prolonged diarrhea or vomiting
  • Hanging her head

Although some of these symptoms may seem normal, it’s best to contact your veterinarian right away once you observe any of these signs. In this way, you can rule out any serious health problems. At the same time, you’ll learn the correct way to handle the situations as advised by the vet.

Can Dogs Have Period Cravings?

Many women will agree that hormones affect their cravings. Some women would crave sweets, others for salty or sour foods on or before their period. In fact, a study revealed that women’s cravings fluctuate depending on which phase they are in their reproductive cycle.

Since hormones cause food cravings in humans, it’s possible that dogs get cravings too. After all, their bodily and behavioral changes are also influenced by surging hormones. Another reason your dog craves more food is because of the comfort it brings. Having periods can bring pain so they want to feel better by eating their favorite treats.

If you suspect that your dog has food cravings, feed her more small meals frequently than usual. This will help stabilize her blood sugar so she will not overeat. You may also offer her more healthy treats during this time. But make sure the calories still fall under the suggested intake for your pooch.

How to Relieve Dog Period Cramps Pain

Your pooch may go through a lot during her period. But, there are some steps you can do to help ease her pain. We gathered some tips to help you provide comfort and relief for your dog’s period pain. Let’s go through each of them.

Give a Complete and Balanced Meal

Your dog needs quality nutrition during this critical phase of her reproductive cycle. So, make sure to provide a complete and balanced meal. This will help her body manage all the hormonal changes and fight any discomfort or other health issues that are lurking during this stage.

Give Aromatherapy Massages

Apply some aromatherapy or essential oils and massage them slowly to your dog. A massage not only relieves stress but also improves blood circulation. Additionally, it helps the muscles relax and promotes good quality of sleep. Just make sure to use dog-friendly essential oils.

Keep Her Indoors

If you don’t want to deal with puppies in two months, it’s best to keep your female dog at home. The scent your dog secretes during her fertile window will invite a lot of male dogs. So, if you let her out off-leash, she’ll find a mate sooner than you expect. Also, if there are many male dogs in the area, your female in heat will trigger aggression and may result in dog fights.

Apply Cold or Hot Pack

Cold or hot packs help soothe the pain in your dog’s abdominal area. Cold packs help numb the pain while hot packs aid in the relaxation of muscles. Just make sure to time the application, especially for hot packs.

Give CBD or Her Favorite Treats

Help your dog perk up by offering her favorite treats. Sometimes, a dog may become picky on food during her period. As a result, she misses out on the nutrition she needs during this critical phase. Keep her nourished by giving her high-quality and nutritious treats that she loves.

You may also try giving CBD to ease your dog’s pain. CBD has been used recently for chronic pain in dogs. In fact, one study revealed that 80% of dogs with osteoarthritis showed improvement after giving CBD to dogs. However, the use of CBD is not yet widely accepted in many states in the US.

Provide Plenty of Rest

Some dogs may feel aloof or uninterested in physical activities when in heat. So, if your dog wants to stay in bed, let her sleep as long as she likes. Periods may be stressful and draining, so having lots of rest is the key to regaining her energy.

Give Enough and Appropriate Exercises

If your dog shows some interest in fun games or puzzles, then invite her to play some indoor activities. Mentally stimulating games like treat-dispensing puzzles will keep her occupied. So, she won’t mind the discomfort she is feeling. You may also play some physical exercises such as indoor fetch games or tug-of-war.

Use Other Natural Remedies

Natural remedies may aid in providing relief to your pup. Some herbal options include turmeric or ginger root teas, valerian, and other herbal teas. However, it’s best to ask your veterinarian about the safety of natural remedies especially if your dogs have other health issues.

Give Your Dog a Vet-Approved Pain Reliever

If you sense that your dog is suffering intense pain, consider using a vet-approved pain reliever. Some are available over the counter, so you can get a hold of them easily. But, remember not to decide on the medicines yourself. Always ask your veterinarian first before giving any medications to your dog.

Use Pet Diapers

Dogs may feel scared to see the bloody mess she made on the floor. To avoid having to clean the discharge on the floor for the entire duration of your dog’s heat cycle, get her some pet diapers. Both you and your dog will greatly benefit from it. Plus, you can opt for environment-friendly variants too.

Get Her Spayed

A permanent solution to your dog’s period pains is spaying. This process stops the reproductive cycle at once so your dog will not experience periods ever again. Aside from that, spaying comes with other pros too, such as behavioral and health benefits. Plus, no more discharges for you to clean. And to top it all, spayed and neutered dogs live longer, and that’s backed by a study.

Consult Your Vet

If you are still in doubt and don’t know where to start, nothing beats a visit to the veterinarian. Bring your pooch for a check-up so your vet can give the best professional advice tailored to your dog’s needs.

Period pains are troublesome for humans and dogs alike. However, with the right knowledge of your dog’s reproductive health, you’ll be able to help her manage the discomfort she may feel. With the tips that we shared, you’ll surely help your beloved pooch get over this bothersome phase easily and comfortably.