If you have a female dog in heat not eating, then this guide is for you. It is a common scenario during heat cycles (it happens once or twice a year), and we are going to explain to you the symptoms and signs, as well as the many changes that your pet will go through.
It is important for you, as an owner, to learn about the female dog in heat behavior, because it will allow you to take the appropriate tips, and more importantly, to worry less because it is completely natural. Of course, we are also going to show you how to get your pet to eat more, to avoid nutritional deficiencies and other health ailments.
To further your reading on the female dog estrus cycle, check out this FAQ.
Why Are Female Dogs in Heat Not Eating?
First off, it is completely normal that your female dog does not want to eat during her heat, especially if it is her first one. Brace yourself for very odd behaviors!
The only priority of your pet is mating, and therefore, everything else falls below it. Her hormones are in a constant rush, and therefore, she will do anything to mate with a male. In fact, these hormonal fluctuations allow her to attract males because according to this study, male dogs displayed more interest when presented with cotton pledgets exposed to the vaginae of female dogs with higher levels of estrogen than those with lower levels. Therefore, it determines her success rate in getting pregnant.
Hormones are very powerful, and therefore, they will drive her to do very odd things with the sole purpose of breeding. Be it climbing over a fence, chewing through a wall or digging to the other side of the fence. She will do anything in her power to fulfill her biological role. Hopefully, thanks to the tips you will find below, you can remedy this situation by taking certain steps.
As you have read, during estrus, the only priority of your pet is to mate, because she is in optimal conditions for doing so. It is due to the massive increase in estrogen levels, along with changes in other hormones such as progesterone, estradiol, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone.
As you can see, your dog is undergoing very sharp hormonal changes during her heat, and therefore, her appetite will be affected. It is a very complex process that outputs strange behaviors and changes in the appearance of your dog.
This fluctuation of hormones makes her display behaviors that allow the males to know that she is fertile and ready to breed. For instance, moving her tail from side to side, also known as flagging, is a common way via which she allows male dogs to take alert.
Furthermore, such hormonal changes also allow the release of pheromones, which help to attract male dogs. The smell is so inviting that male dogs can smell a fertile female dog from kilometers away. Therefore, the combination of specific behaviors and the release of pheromones come from critical hormonal fluctuations to make breeding possible.
Such a heavy fluctuation, as stated before, makes other functions to fall lower in the ranking of priorities, such as eating. This phase usually lasts 9 days (although it can range from 4 to 24 days), so there is not much to worry about. However, we will also bring you tips to encourage your pet to eat during this cycle.
The hormonal changes that your pet will undergo during the estrus will make her display some odd behaviors such as crying, sleeping more than usual, frequent urination, laziness and running away unexpectedly.
The highest priority of any animal is to reproduce, and therefore, when she is in the phase of her life where it is possible, it becomes a top priority.
Due to an increase in laziness and lethargy – which is common amongst female dogs in their heat – she might become more reluctant at the hour of eating because she will not be as interested as usual. She will spend as much energy and effort as possible into breeding because that is what nature and her body will demand her to do.
You will see that she will demand to go out more often because it will be an opportunity for mating. Your dog will tease any potential partner when she gets the chance by running away unexpectedly, for example. Be very careful.
Encouraging Your Female Dog in Heat to Eat
Now that you understand how powerful hormonal changes are, and how they interfere with the normal behavior and temperament of your dog, it is time to learn how to encourage your pet to eat more. Remember that the absence or reduction of appetite is completely normal, but these tips will make a difference.
Give appealing food
During her estrus, your pet will become even pickier at the hour of eating, so you should make things easier. Make her food more attractive by feeding her tastier cuts of meat, some tasty fats like fish oil and delicious fruits like blueberries. If you choose to bring your dog kibble or dehydrated dog food, add some water to it to make it tastier, and if possible, add any of our suggestions. You can also sprinkle some tasty food toppers to enhance the meal’s palatability.
Provide nutritious dog meals
Because your dog will eat less, it is even more critical to provide her optimal nutrition, to ensure that she meets her nutritional requirements. You can choose between well-balanced kibble and wet food, or alternatively, choose to prepare it yourself. Make sure to make high-quality protein the protagonist, accompanied by healthy fats and some carbs she loves like her favorite fruits and leafy greens, to encourage her to eat.
Organ meats and meat, in general, are highly palatable and rarely ignored by dogs, even in heat. They are also incredibly nutritious. You can serve these cooked or raw if your dog is on a raw-friendly diet such as paleo and keto.
According to many owners, one of the best ways to get a female dog in her estrus to eat more, is to encourage her with extra treats. It will help to ignite her appetite, so make sure that her plate of food is ready. Bonus points if you choose treats that provide her complete nutrition.
You can also place these treats on top of her bowl because it will encourage her to eat more.
If you want to try something new besides the normal dog treats, especially if they have not worked, then here you have some useful ideas:
Frozen Coconut Oil + Blueberries Treats
You will only need ½ cup of solid coconut oil, frozen blueberries and a small silicone mold with the shape of your preference. Here are the instructions:
- Put a blueberry into each hole of the mold, it can be a square, circle, star or any other shape
- Heat the solid coconut oil in a saucepan or in the microwave oven
- When the oil becomes liquid, pour it into each hole of the mold
- Put the mold into the freezer
- Once solid, pop them out of the mold and store in the freezer
- Now you have a great set of treats that your pet will love!
Banana and Strawberries Smoothie Treats
You will need an ice cube tray, 2 cups of strawberries (sliced), 1 banana (sliced), 1 ½ of Greek yogurt (low fat preferably), ¼ of skim milk and 3 tablespoons of honey. The instructions are the following:
- Blend all the ingredients for 2-3 minutes
- Pour the mix into the ice cube trays or your preferred mold
- Freeze for 4-5 fours
- Pop the treats out of the mold
- Store in the freezer
Now you have in your hands two excellent recipes that will wake up the appetite of your pet!
Give your dog her favorite food
It is an evident suggestion because you must make things easier for your pet during this stage. You can combine her favorite dishes with the treats we have suggested because, in the majority of cases, dogs love them.
Give her extra attention
During a heat, your dog will undergo physical and mental changes, and therefore, she will become more affectionate and demanding of attention. Therefore, you must provide tons of attention, playtime, and affection to your pet, because it will protect her wellbeing, and as a result, it will incentive her to eat more.
Keep all the male dogs away
Because the focus of your pet will be on breeding, you need to keep all the males away, because as soon as she sees one, she will leave everything aside to get to reproduce with a suitable male.
Therefore, you should keep your pet indoors most of the time, especially during the times she uses to eat. If you must go outside, take her out on a leash and add some menthol on her tail, to dissipate the effect of the pheromones.
It will be hard to keep her distracted during this phase, but you can help it by increasing playtime, and by challenging her more. You can buy her new toys, take her to new places (preferably away from male dogs) or try new games. Do anything in your power to keep her distracted.
Now you understand that a female dog in heat not eating is not strange at all, to the contrary, it is natural because the forces that drive procreation are too strong to ignore. Now that you know why it happens and how you can help it, put these tips into practice to support your dog during this stage, especially if it is her first heat. They will make things easier!