Do Dogs Get Period Cramps? What You Need To Know

Many female dog owners may wonder, do dogs get period cramps?

Female dogs going into heat for the first time can be a confusing time for their owners. They have estrus cycles just like female humans do, but there are some differences you should be aware of during this time.

Female dogs can experience a variety of symptoms during their heat cycle – some more severe than others.

This article will discuss everything you need to know about female dog periods – including what period cramps are in female dogs and how to manage them, so you can take good care of your furry friend!

Do Dogs Get Period Cramps?

Yes. It is not uncommon for female dogs to experience period cramps during their heat cycle. However, female dog periods are very different from female human periods. And the good news is that there are a few ways to make her relaxed, comfortable, and calm during her heat period.

The female dog’s estrus cycle – also known as “heat” or “period” will occur every six months to seven months on average (but sometimes more frequently). This means that an unspayed female dog can go into heat twice a year, but it could be once per season depending on the individual animal and breed of the pet.

The periods can start once she reaches puberty after 6 months old and the length of the period can vary greatly between different breeds. Some may have it for only two to three weeks while others could experience symptoms over four weeks long.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is In Period – 4 Stages Of Dog Heat Cycle

It may be hard as an owner to know if your female pet has gone into heat for some time without having witnessed signs such as vaginal bleeding or swelling of their vulva.

dog lying on dried leaves outdoors

However, to better understand the heat cycle in female dogs, let’s take a look at the four stages of the heat cycle.

In female dogs, the heat cycle is divided into four stages:

  • Proestrus
  • Estrus
  • Diestrus
  • Anestrus 
  1. Proestrus

During this stage of a female dog’s estrus cycle, her vulva will swell up as blood rushes to it in preparation for mating with a male partner. Owners may notice that their pet has bloody discharge from her vagina or spotting on her rear end where she sleeps.

The bleeding tends to go away after several days though some female dogs have persistent vaginal bleeding throughout their heat period even when not mated by an intact male animal during proestrus.

Besides vulva swelling, other symptoms in this cycle can include appetite changes (feeling more or less hungry), personality change (expressing affection or grumpiness), and tucking the tail between her legs.

  1. Estrus 

This is the first phase of female dog reproduction when she is most fertile. The female dog will be in heat and receptive to mating during this time. This is when she will follow her natural instincts to breed.

Symptoms that are most common in this stage include flirting (inviting males with her tail), vulva softening (the vulva will soften enough to allow penetration), light discharge (the previous red discharge will be changed to pink-ish).

  1. Diestrus

In this phase, the fertile part of the period cycle is coming to an end, and the female dog will no longer be fertile (which can last from 60 to 90 days).

If she becomes pregnant, then diestrus can last up to 60 days (until the puppies are born).

If no fertilization occurred and there was no embryo implanted in the female dog’s uterus during estrus through mating with a male partner, then her period cycle should return about two months after ovulation.

The symptoms in this phase include a disappearance of the vulva swelling and losing interest in flirting.

  1. Anestrus 

Anestrus is the resting period where the female dog will not be receptive to mating and shows no interest in male animals. This period usually lasts from 100 to 150 days, until the next Proestrus stage starts over again.

How Can You Tell Your Dog Is In Pain During Period?

When female dogs are in heat, then they may exhibit the following symptoms of pain:

  • Shaking
  • Twitching
  • Aggressiveness
  • Excessive panting
  • Arching their backs

So pay close attention to these symptoms and do your best to manage them properly.

Managing Your Dog’s Period And Easing The Symptoms

Owners can take steps to ease female dog period pain by: 

  • Keeping your female dog indoors

Female dogs in heat should not be allowed outside of the home alone during this time because they could get pregnant unwantedly. Or if you want to walk her outside, always make sure to walk together by using a leash – never leave her alone no matter how well she is trained.

  • Match her behavior

If she is feeling tired, make sure to give her a rest. If she becomes too restless, go for a walk (with a leash). Balance between rest and exercise to keep her more comfortable.

  • Have a chat with your vet

Although being in heat is a normal thing for female dogs, you can consult with your veterinarian if you are concerned about some unusual symptoms.

  • Use reusable or disposable dog diapers

If a female dog period is too much for you to handle, then using a pet diaper can be very helpful. You can either use reusable or disposable diapers.

Female dogs in heat will not be able to control their female dog period, so using diapers can help both of you get through the heat easier.

What Can You Do To Relieve Period Cramps In Your Dog?

There are some things you should consider to relieve period cramps in your female dog:

  1. Give a relaxing massage to your dog with essential oils. This can lower her stress levels, provide relaxation and improve blood flow.
  2. Apply a hot or cold pack to your dog’s stomach and see if that helps.
  3. Provide a balanced healthy meal followed by regular exercise.
  4. Consider alternative therapy such as acupuncture from a licensed holistic vet.
  5. Consider medications (such as anti-inflammatory drugs) but only in rare cases, because they can come with side effects.


It may not be the most pleasant topic, but it’s vital to know how to care for your pet during the heat cycle.

This article should serve as a helpful guide that covers everything from what female dog periods are, to caring for them when they’re in heat and beyond – including tips for managing their period cramps!

Do you have any other questions about female dogs going into heat, or want to share a helpful tip? Leave us a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!

Photo of author

Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

19 thoughts on “Do Dogs Get Period Cramps? What You Need To Know”

  1. Dear Lovelia,

    Thank you for answering all my questions so well. My little 4lb. Chihuahua is in her first heat. Your well written and well presented article has been so very helpful. I am so grateful.

    Carole Jordan

    • I also have a 4 pound Chihuahua and this article has enlighten me. Thank you, I previously had a Papillon mix but she was spayed. However, this Chihuahua I have now is so small that I am not planning on spaying her, either way she is an indoor dog and I am do not intent on breeding her. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for this very informative article. Now I know why she wasn’t eating normally and became closer to me. Thankfully I don’t think she has cramps.

  3. Omg,thanks so much I applied a hot water bottle containing warrm water to my very restless 16 year old springer Spaniels tummy and she fell fast asleep

  4. My 7 year old not spayed Chihuahua baby girl has actually yelped in pain, cried tears,and other unusual behavior in this heat/period; would it be ok to give her a warm bath?

    • Make sure you watch her very closely. I had a 14-year-old Maltese that went through almost the same thing look like she was cramping had a belly ache her belly actually kind of swelled up though and it turned out she had a severe uterine infection. They had to go in and do an emergency hysterectomy owner. She about lost her life. So now I make sure that my new puppy is getting spayed here in a couple months. I thought it was a one in a million chance of this happening to us but then turn around 4 months later are elder cat did the same exact thing cuz we never got her fixed so that was another thousand bucks out the window but they both lived. So I wouldn’t change a thing. Just make sure and take caution that you might need to go to the vet. Your sincerely Becky

      • Becky, I don’t know how old your ‘puppy’ is, but I remember reading – I think in this article – that spaying them any earlier than two years old put them at risk for some type of tumors. I should go back and try to find it, for accuracy . . . I don’t want to intrude, but after reading your response, I just wanted to make certain you’d seen that, and referenced it for consideration.

        Blessings for you and your little girl.


  5. So Becky you’re saying that I should get my soon to be 5 yr old pitbull spayed before something similar ro uour experience happens? I want her to have at least one litter, but the people I plan to do it with flakes out at rhe last minute and the artificial insemination is so expensive. I said if I can’t find a mate for her this time then I’ll have her fixed. Poor gurl she’s in heat now and I just gave her a little CBD and a belly rub and shes out like a light. That’s for the advice.
    Yours truly

  6. Thank you for all the information, I have a little 7 lb Pomchi, she is 7 months old & just started her cycle…I got to wondering if our fur babies have cramping as us humans so I googled & I’m grateful for all this information provided! Thank you so much ❤️

  7. My 9 month old is having her first cycle. She seems to be in so much pain. She’s chewing and biting her back legs and crying out. Could this be from her period? She has all signs of discomfort listed except for lifting her back. What should I do? Is this normal behavior?

    • That is excessive. Go see your vet!! No dog should have to suffer. Get her spayed as soon as you are able. My pup went into heat two days before shebwas scheduled to be spayed. She was in pain, and so unhappy. I am now scheduling her operation, and will not let her go through it again. There are too many people who see dollar signs in the puppies. It’s so depressing. Fix your dogs, folks. It’s easy, and we can end the need for
      euthanasia. Spay and neuter your Pets. Don’t believe you can make money off of them. C-sections are expensive, and can cost you the life of your beloved pets.

  8. What about whining? Do they whine while in heat at all my dog Minnie is whining more then usual it’s a low and short whine but still weird

  9. I took my 8mth Poochon to the vet to be spayed. That was 2 weeks ago and they said she was coming into heat so it couldn’t be done. She still hasn’t come into heat but this information has explained some of the behaviour she is now displaying so I will be watching her carefully over the next few days. I now know how to help her through it. Thank you.

  10. My minnie goldendoodle was scheduled to be spayed, 2 days before she started bleeding. My husband and I didn’t know that she couldn’t have surgery. We took her to the vet but was told that surgery could not be done while on her period. He rescheduled the surgery for 2 weeks, Aug. 4th. She is still bleeding and hopefully she will end her period by then. It will be 18 days.

  11. This has helped me so much. I have never had a female dog that wasn’t fixed so when my pit puppy went into heat it was a little nerve wracking. I really appreciate all of the information here!


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