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Grooming a Female Dog in Heat

Written by Kalgi
Kalgi is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Thursday 14 May 2020
Last updated on
Wednesday 27 May 2020
How To Groom a Female Dog in Heat
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Grooming a female dog in heat can be an intimidating process. A bitch’s heat cycle usually lasts for 2-4 weeks and comes once every six months. You may also wonder whether to bathe her, how to groom her during her heat cycle, and what products are safe to use.

Cleaning her during this time is very important – she may experience a discharge that needs to be wiped off. Furthermore, the stickiness of the discharge may attract more dirt and dust than usual, which if not cleaned properly can lead to an infection. As for other aspects of grooming your female dog in heat, like hair trimming, nail clipping – these are optional and should be done only if necessary.

How To Clean a Dog in Heat

Cleaning and grooming your female dog in heat requires patience and a little bit of technique. Below are some great pro-tips that will help you bathe and groom her when she’s feeling her worst!

Complete Bathing

Your dog might not be herself when in heat. She may be agitated, irritated and might not like someone touching her either. This doesn’t mean you leave her alone, but be patient and gentle. A bath is a must as it will help her stay clean and might make her mood better if she smells good and feels nice. There are a few things that pet parents should take care of while bathing their dogs.


Use a shampoo that is suitable for your dog’s skin and doesn’t irritate or disturb it. If you aren’t sure which one to pick – speak to your vet or someone who knows their way around dogs. An organic shampoo made with natural ingredients will work perfectly well if it suits her skin.


Using a conditioner is optional if your dog is in heat. Conditioners are only used for dogs with a very long coat, to keep it soft and to avoid matting of the fur. For short-haired, medium coat dogs, avoid this completely – for dogs with longer coats, conditioners are optional when they are in heat. If she is irritable during her bath or is fidgety, end the bath sooner and skip the conditioner.


Apart from the products you use – it is also important to take a quick check at the drying technique you use for her post-bath. A good way to be gentle and not irritate her is to towel dry her. Take a soft towel and pat her down, be extra gentle around her privates but don’t leave her intimate areas damp. If her flow isn’t too heavy and if she feels fine, use a hairdryer on low voltage to dry her – but remember, no heat drying!

Spot Cleaning

Spot cleaning is an effective way of grooming your dog in heat. It is safe and will not agitate her as much as a full clean. If your dog shows refusal or apprehension at being bathed during her heat cycle, spot cleaning is the way to go. It involves spraying only those areas that need cleaning on her body, leaving the rest of her, untouched. There are two ways to go about this – spraying and wiping or wiping her down with a wet/damp cloth.


This is very effective for dogs who tend to get very dirty. Simply fill a spray bottle with water and spray it only areas of her body that need complete cleaning. Get rid of dirt, mud, or any bloodstains you may see around her privates. Follow this up with a gentle wiping with a soft dry cloth. For those looking to take it one step further – you can add a little bit of chamomile tea in your spray bottle. This is known to keep infections at bay and clam your dog in case of stress – however, consult with your vet before doing so.


Wiping her down with a wet or damp cloth is great if your dog hates the feeling of water on her body. It is gentle and can cleanse her well. Follow this up with a light pat-down with a dry cloth too. You could also buy commercial pet wipes, that come with anti-bacterial qualities. Consult your vet before your using a new product on your dog – especially when she is menstruating.

Partial Bathing

This is a quick bathing method that alternates between bathing and spot cleaning your dog. It is best used if your dog is very agitated but needs to be cleaned. Don’t forget to keep her entertained through the process. A lot of pet parents have recommended this method of cleaning and grooming for their female dogs in heat.

The Spray & Brush Technique

This method involves spraying your female dog with water and gently brushing her with a soft-bristled grooming brush. This is especially recommended to groom those female dogs that have medium to long coats. Not only will the hair get rid of any matting, but brushing will also clean out any dust particles there may be on her body. This is also a great way to speed the grooming process of your female dog in heat – the brushing, bathing, and cleaning all happen in one go. For a lot of dogs, brushing also has a soothing and calming effect. So if she won’t stay still during her bath, this is a great way to ensure that she does.

Soak, Rinse, & Dry

Soak, Rinse, and Dry the dog
Simple – Soak, Rinse, and Dry!

This method is the canine equivalent of soaking in a soothing bath when you’re having a bad day. It works well for dogs who like water. You can run them a bath in their paddling pool or in the sink, fill it with tepid water, and have them sit in it for a while. Squeeze a little shampoo and run it across her body, giving her a gentle massage.

Once it is done, have her stand and rinse the soap off her back with a shower. Next is to pat her dry. This method is relaxing but works well only for dogs that are well trained to sit and stand when commanded. You can skip the soap and just soak her in the water, rubbing off any dirt or stains from her body while she is in the water.

Trimming Hair Around The Dog’s Vulva

A large part of grooming a female dog is to trim her hair and clip her nails frequently. This ensures that she doesn’t get dirty or prone to infections. But when it comes to grooming a female dog in heat – you must take certain precautions while using anything sharp around her. She is agitated and may be prone to mood swings. Here’s all you need to know on how to groom your female dog in heat, using clippers and trimmers and keep her calm.

Care & Caution

Your dog’s vulva can get swollen when in heat. Your dog might not like you touching it even if you just want to trim the hair from there. Some dogs don’t require a trim while others are messy and to maintain their hygiene, the fur around the vulva can use a good trim.

When in heat, the vulva becomes sticky due to the constant discharge. So, be very careful if you choose to do so – you could also hire a professional to do it for her, as long as she is comfortable with the groomer – try and get a groomer that travels to you. If you choose to do it yourself, use a size 10 blade for the clippers. Make sure that you don’t burn or cut the sensitive areas of your dog. Be gentle and careful with your dog because, if you end up clipping some part of their skin, your dog can have serious injuries.

A great way to trim the sensitive area would be to do it when bathing her – the warm water might help her relax and it will help you separate the fur from the skin. Trimming the hair from her vulva is a great way to keep her from getting irritated with the discharge – but it also requires extreme caution and care.

Does Your Dog Want To Be Groomed?

Grooming your female dog in heat isn’t very different from grooming her regularly, the little changes are in the mood swings and extra physical sensitivity.

Your dog might push you away when you wish to groom her, based on how she is feeling. If she isn’t in a good place mentally, then don’t force her to be groomed. You can try as that might make her genital irritation and discomfort feel better and that can keep her in a better place mentally too.

If it doesn’t happen, don’t bother too much and instead give her space. Her behavior will tell you what mood she is in and based on that, you can decide whether or not you should go ahead with her grooming. Watch her and observe, just be calm, composed, and understanding with her. She just needs someone to be around and be there for her, or she may require space, each individual is different.

agitated dog in heat
Female dogs in heat can be more agitated than usual.

Taking Your Female Dog In Heat To A Groomer

You should never take your dog to the groomer when she is in heat. The groomer’s place would be filled with other dogs and that is risky for your dog. Male dogs get attracted to female dogs and when in heat, male dogs track them and come to them, which might leave them pregnant. A male dog will know when a female dog is in heat – both males and females are aware during this time period.

Male dogs can go to extremes to find a female dog in heat, including jumping fences. So, it’s not a very good idea to send your female dogs to the groomers when in heat. There is no guarantee that the groomers will take care of your dogs, even if you mention that they are in heat.

You should keep your dog indoors so that she isn’t in sight of the male dogs and not let them roam freely outdoors also. Even when you take her for a walk, she should always be leashed and not let her be on her own. That way, she will be safe and secure inside and not get pregnant.

Avoiding the Heat Cycle

When you get a female dog, you would be aware that their heat cycle is every 6 months and that lasts for 2-3 weeks at least. It is all a very messy business. So if you are certain from the beginning that you don’t plan on breeding her then get your dog spayed to avoid all the hassles when they are in their cycle. This will not only save you all the trouble but keep your dog relaxed as well as they will never get their heat cycle.

You will not have to go through the extensive and up-to-the-mark cleaning process. This will, in turn, will reduce the risk of several health diseases. It will also prevent you from worrying about her during this time period. You will not have to be on your toes throughout her heat cycle, as spaying will completely take away their heat cycle and everything will be clean and tidy. No blood spots or clots to clean, or forcefully make your dog wear dog diapers. You will also not have to keep them away from male dogs. Spaying her will prevent her from ever having puppies, so be sure this is something you are happy doing.

Grooming a Female Dog in Heat – FAQs

To make sure we have answered all of your questions concerning grooming your female dog in heat, we have composed these FAQs

Should I Clean My Dog’s Vulva When It’s In Heat?

The vulva will be very swollen when your dog is in heat. It is important to clean the vulva as it will be very sticky and moist. This is due to the blood and discharge. If your dog is in a bad mood, then she might not even let you near her and at that time just leave her. Dogs usually lick and clean themselves, but not all dogs do a good job at it, which is why you will have to check if your dog needs cleaning or not.

Sometimes, they over-clean and that leads to rashes, skin dryness, and irritation. See how you can help them and if you are unable to figure out how, take your dog to the vet. You can also call and ask your vet about what can be done.

grooming female dog in heat with care
Grooming a female dog during her heat is just like usual; with extra gentle care!

What Is Sanitary Trimming On A Dog?

Due to the blood and discharge, your dog’s hair can get matted and dirty. To avoid diseases and keep your dog hygienic, trim their hair from her private parts. Make sure to not hurt her or cut at a sensitive point as that can lead to major injuries. Let her sit in a warm water bath before you decide to trim her. As she might allow you to trim her hair and pat her, even though she isn’t in her best of moods.

How Do You Clean A Dog’s Recessed Vulva?

Cleaning a dog’s recessed vulva is very important when the dog is in heat as urine and debris can get collected in the skin folds. The best way to clean the vulva is through the use of wipes. If you observe dirt or redness, pull it out gently and clean it lightly. As it might be swollen, you will have to be very gentle and kind while cleaning it. Clean the vulva and also around it very delicately, so the dog doesn’t get irritated. If that would happen then she might not let you clean it at that time or even the next time.

Is It Important To Groom Your Female Dog In Heat?

It is important to groom your dog always, especially when she is in heat as hygiene is important. If your dog is well-groomed, your house will not have blood spots or discharge at every step that you take. So you will only have to worry about cleaning it now and then. Making your dog wear a diaper can be an option to consider. However, there is a possibility that your dog might not allow that, and so you should just give her regular baths (the kinds that she likes) and be patient with her.

Now you should be confident in grooming a female dog in heat. Be sure to tailor the care you provide to her and be gentle with her during this time.

One comment on “Grooming a Female Dog in Heat”

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