Many women experience period pains, with studies showing that anywhere from 16% to 91% of women around the world are affected. But what about dogs? Do they experience the same discomfort during their reproductive cycle? Let’s find out!
While dogs do have a reproductive cycle similar to menstruation in humans, they do not experience period cramps. Instead, female dogs go through a heat cycle, which involves the possibility of pregnancy. So, while our furry friends may experience some discomfort during their heat cycle, it is not the same as the period pains that humans experience.
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 a female dog bleeds, it signals the start of its heat cycle, indicating they are ready to mate and become pregnant. Unlike humans, dogs don’t shed their uterine linings, but instead reabsorb them, which is why the blood is not a result of uterine contraction or discharge. Instead, it is caused by an increase in the hormone estrogen, which makes the uterus more absorptive. This process causes diapedesis, which means blood cells migrate through gaps in the blood vessels, leading to bloody discharge.
Although technically dogs don’t experience menstrual cramps, they can still feel discomfort during their heat cycle due to hormonal changes. These changes can cause fatigue, irritability, or fear, especially during the dog’s first heat cycle. However, discomfort may also be due to other reasons.
The whining and crying that you observe in your dog during their heat cycle may not always indicate pain. It could be their way of attracting potential mates to let them know they are in heat.
In summary, when a female dog bleeds, it is a sign that they are in heat and ready to mate. The blood is not a result of uterine contraction or discharge, but rather an increase in the hormone estrogen, which makes the uterus more absorptive. Although dogs don’t experience menstrual cramps, they can still feel discomfort due to hormonal changes during their heat cycle. The whining and crying observed in dogs during their heat cycle may not always indicate pain, but rather a way of attracting potential mates
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Excessive panting
- Twitching her back
- Sensitive reaction to touch
- Arching her back
- 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.
Like humans, dogs can have food cravings, although for different reasons. Dogs may crave food due to boredom or anxiety rather than hormonal changes. To prevent overeating, try feeding your dog smaller, more frequent meals and offering healthy treats in moderation
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 dog may experience discomfort during her period, but there are ways to help her feel better. Here are some tips:
- Give your dog a complete and balanced meal to help her manage hormonal changes and fight discomfort.
- Try aromatherapy massages with dog-friendly essential oils to relieve stress, improve blood circulation, and promote good sleep.
- Keep your female dog indoors during her fertile window to avoid unwanted pregnancies and dog fights.
- Apply cold or hot packs to soothe your dog’s abdominal pain, but be sure to time the application for hot packs.
- Offer your dog her favorite treats to keep her nourished and consider CBD as a natural remedy to ease pain. However, consult your veterinarian first before giving any medication.
- Provide plenty of rest for your dog to regain her energy, and try fun indoor games and puzzles for mental stimulation.
- Consider natural remedies like herbal teas but consult your vet first, especially if your dog has other health issues.
- If your dog is suffering from intense pain, consult your veterinarian for a vet-approved pain reliever.
- Use pet diapers to avoid having to clean up blood discharge on the floor during your dog’s heat cycle.
- Consider spaying your dog as a permanent solution to her period pains and other health benefits.
Remember to always consult your veterinarian for 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.