Do dogs have periods? If you own a female dog, this is surely one of your biggest concerns. Technically, dogs don’t have their menstrual cycle. However, they bleed during the Estrus cycle and that is somewhat equivalent to a woman’s menstruation. Read on to know what you can do during this critical period.
What is the Bloody Discharge Coming From Female Dogs?
The bloody discharge from a dog often occurs when she is in heat. If the dog is in heat, it should be coming from a dog’s vagina and passes from the vulva. When the blood is in the urine, it is likely a case of urinary tract infection. The blood is dark red and becomes lighter as the female dog approaches the later stages of the cycle.
Your pet’s “period” has physiological functions. This indicates the beginning of fertility in a female dog’s life. The blood consists of pheromones and hormones that entice male dogs even from large distances.
What You Need to Know About Dog Periods
First, your dog does not have that “time of the month.” Instead, she has her bloody discharge roughly every six months. During an Estrus cycle, there is a time where your female dog experiences bleeding. It is normal for female dogs to have a bloody discharge while they are in heat, so there is no treatment needed.
During the early heat cycle or the Proestrus period, your female dog could also emit blood accompanied by a clear yellow discharge called blood serum. To see the kind of discharge coming from the vagina, your pet has to undergo a vaginoscopy or examining it without damaging any other parts of the vulva.
Can you prevent this type of bleeding? Yes! The only way to keep the messy bleeding and the periodic cycles from happening is by having your dog spayed. Spaying or ovariohysterectomy is a major procedure that involves the removal of both the ovaries and the uterus. This traditional way of spaying is a major procedure in female dogs.
If you would like a minimally invasive procedure for your pet, consider laparoscopic spay rather than an ovariohysterectomy. It’s believed to be a safer option because there isn’t a lot of trauma on the tissues. This means there is less infection and even bleeding. This way of spaying uses more up-to-date equipment which means the procedure itself takes a shorter time than the traditional spay.
Removing the dog’s primary reproductive organs comes with many health benefits. It prevents overpopulation in dogs and reduces the risks of reproductive cancer. It, therefore, increases your pet’s lifespan. Still, there’s a little chance for your dog to bleed even when she is spayed.
Do Spayed Dogs Bleed?
Yes, and there are several explanations for this. The first and most common reason for this is Ovarian Remnant Syndrome (ORS). This occurs when the ovariohysterectomy is done wrong. The symptoms, including bleeding, may occur several months and even years after the spaying procedure.
If the spaying is not done correctly, a piece of the ovarian tissue is left inside. The residual tissue can still produce estrogen, which causes the dog to display signs of being in heat. Aside from vaginal discharges, your female dog’s vulva could also swell. Attracting male dogs can also be noticed as one of the behavioral changes.
In such case, it’s best to bring her to a vet to have her checked. She will undergo a series of tests that includes an ultrasound and a hormone stimulation test. Your vet will also perform a vaginal cytology to see if there are existing cornified cells from the vulva.
The presence of cornified cells on the vulva is a clear sign that your pet is under the control of estrogen. If it’s not because of an ovarian remnant, the estrogen might come from outside sources. This outside sources refer to topical hormonal cream used by women. Be careful around dogs in case you are on a topical hormone replacement therapy.
If your dog is tested positive for Ovarian Remnant Syndrome, your veterinarian would likely schedule an operation. A surgery is the only way to have the remaining tissues removed. This should be done while the dog is displaying signs of heat so the remaining tissues will be easier to locate.
The surgery is done by creating a large incision to examine the abdominal opening in its entirety. The remaining ovarian tissues could be found in the ovarian pedicles area, where most of the tissues are located. It could be found either on the left or the right side of the ovarian pedicles.
What to Do When Your Dog Experiences Vaginal Bleeding
A dog in heat should be taken care of and should be guarded carefully. During this time, she will be attracting potential mates as she continues to release pheromones. It is your responsibility to save her from unwanted pregnancy. Keep your female dog indoors. When outdoors, make sure she is not left alone and never walk her without a leash.
When you are worried about the mess and the smelly discharge coming from your pet’s vagina, keep her in an indoor area where her bloody discharge will not be a hurdle to clean up. When this is not possible probably because you have a limited space, consider putting on doggie pants or dog diapers to your pet.
They are ideal when walking your pet outside as it helped mask the odor coming from from her. It prevents male dogs from tracking your female dog to your house. Some pet owners even put menthol on their pet’s tail in order to cover up the odor.
If you suspect that this is not associated with heat cycle, schedule an appointment with your vet to have the dog checked. Your vet will do a series of tests, such as a vaginal swab to determine if the dog is suffering from bacterial infections.
Important Reminders When Spaying Your Dog
The success of a spay procedure can prevent ORS. It’s important to be aware of the things to do before and after the surgery. One of the basics is making sure your pet is qualified for the procedure. In such case, a physical examination should be performed prior to the operation.
Spaying may not be pursued if your female dog showed symptoms of illness. Heart problems are among the top reasons why some dogs do not qualify for this surgical procedure.
Meanwhile, vet clinics these days require that a female dog was vaccinated before the spay. The parvo-distemper vaccine should be given two weeks before the day of the surgery.
Other Possible Reasons for Bleeding in Dogs
Estrus is not the only potential reason for your dog to bleed. If she is bleeding but you are certain she is not in heat, it’s possible that it’s a symptom to an underlying condition. Below are the following conditions that are usually associated with the bleeding of your dog’s vulva:
Pyometra – it could be a sign of pyometra or the infection of the uterus. It’s common among unspayed dogs. The E.coli in the dog’s feces causes this infection. The following are the signs of pyometra:
- Sudden lethargy
- Excessive licking of the back end
- Increased thirst resulting in frequent urination
These symptoms are usually seen during the early stages of pyometra. At an advanced stage, your female dog will start to move slowly, will excrete pus through her vulva, and will have a distended abdomen. Without immediate treatment, this condition can put your dog’s life at risk.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) – a female dog with UTI normally excretes some bloody urine. If you suspect it’s UTI, bring her to a vet as soon as possible to have her urine checked. It can leave your dog in pain so it’s best to treat it as soon as you see the early signs. Once it advances, the infection could spread in the entire body and may even cause death.
There are several ways of treating UTI in canines. The most common way is by administering antibiotics for one to two weeks. Conventional medications such as Cephalexin and Clavamox are often used for they can help in destroying the bacteria.
In some cases, vets may also recommend a holistic approach in treating UTI. This is by endorsing a healthier diet. Foods loaded with additives and preservatives should not be given to dogs with UTI because it can negatively affect the pet’s immunity.
Vaginitis – problems in the urinary tract can also cause vaginitis or vaginal infection. Because of their similar sets of symptoms, it can be mistaken for UTI. There is are several causes of vaginitis, but the common ones are as follows:
- Yeast infection
- Vaginal abnormality
- Injury in the vulva area
- Foreign objects
- Feces contamination
Injury – it’s also possible that your pet just got a wound on her private part. It’s important to treat the injury immediately because it might lead to a bacterial infection. The treatment for this usually involves the administration of oral antibiotics. If you are hesitant to administer antibiotics, you can use a topical treatment approved by your veterinarian.
Blood clotting disorders – a female dog with problems in blood clotting may also have a bloody discharge. For young dogs, the most common cause of blood in the urine is familial hematuria. This is mostly hereditary but other kinds of infections, bladder stones, and bleeding disorders can also cause it.
The proper treatment will be contingent on the primary cause of the bleeding disorder. Vitamin K, IV fluids, calcium, and phosphorous may be given if it is caused by poisoning. If the blood clotting is due to an infection, your vet will likely prescribe antibiotics.
Post-partum discharges – a female dog could also present discharges six to eight weeks after delivery and sometimes even after 12 weeks. If it occurs for longer than the 12th week, you have to visit your vet ASAP.
This could be a case of post-partum hemorrhage, where an affected female dog excretes fresh blood clots from her vagina. The usual treatment for this is antibiotics but vets could also give oxytocin to get rid of any residing placental material from the uterus.
In the advanced stage of post-partum hemorrhage, a female dog has to undergo blood transfusion or spaying. Canine blood transfusion can save your dog’s life from severe blood loss. Spaying, on the other hand, can be done only after more than a month since your dog gave birth to her puppies. It is advisable to proceed desexing when her pups are on the weaning stage.
Neoplasia – a bloody vaginal discharge may occur in dogs with neoplasia or the abnormal growth of tissues in the body. According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, around 2.4-3% cases of neoplasia in dogs are associated with tumors in the vulva and in the vagina. The symptoms of neoplasia include the following:
- Increased vulvar mass
- Apparent pain while urinating
- Bowel movement difficulties
- Unrestrained licking of the vulva
The treatment involves surgical extinction of the non-malignant tumors. Spaying can also be done if your dog has not undergone the surgery. A dorsal episiotomy can be performed if the vet is having a hard time locating the pedicle or the urethral papilia.
Urinary incontinence – this refers to the incapability to hold urine in the bladder. It’s possible that your female dog has a problem in the sphincter which is the muscle that serves as a valve at the cavity of the bladder. It can also occur if your pet is on medication that increases the production of her urine. Below are the usual symptoms to keep an eye on:
- Excessive thirst
- Free flowing urine
- Bloody excretion
- Apparent pain
After the tests concluded that the bleeding is due to urinary incontinence, your vet will prescribe phenylpropanolamine. This medication helps in reinforcing the contraction of the sphincter. A surgery, though, will be required if your dog has bladder stones.
Female dogs do not have a similar menstrual cycle to those of the female humans. The bleeding usually occurs because of heat, but there are other possible causes for it. If your pet was spayed but has a bloody discharge, it is important to bring her to a vet for medical intervention. It could be a symptom of a serious ailment.