The Root of the Behavior
Many owners report that they have not noticed any change in smell when their female is in season, but experiences vary from owner to owner and dog to dog. Some families report that the odor is particularly strong and unpleasant. It may depend on the olfactory sensitivity of the families or the intensity of the odor of the discharge. On the opposite end of the spectrum, most male dogs are able to detect even the subtlest of hormonal changes in an intact female. Since dogs are wired with an innate need to reproduce themselves, they are equipped with sensitive nasal passages that are capable of sensing when a heat cycle is imminent. It is not uncommon to see an intact male dog crazy with lust long before there are any signs of visible discharge or swelling of the vulva. This is due to the extreme sensitivity he has been wired with to allow him to fulfill his role in the reproductive process.
Encouraging the Behavior
Metritis, a condition that affects females after having whelped a litter, also produces an odor that is a cause for concern. Metritis occurs when the lining of the uterus swells due to placentas or unborn puppies that were not expelled at the time of birth. This serious medical problem typically only affects female dogs who have whelped a litter, so if your female has never been bred, metritis is not something that should cause you worry. Of course, there are always other issues unrelated to reproduction or whelping that could be troubling your female dog and causing unpleasant smells. Infections of the skin and ears, whether yeast or bacterial in nature, can cause a female dog to have a strong, pungent odor. Poor dental hygiene and anal glands that need to be expressed can also be culprits for offensive canine smells.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Many experienced breeders and pet owners recommend dosing a female dog with liquid chlorophyll at the first signs of heat. This method has proven to be quite effective in reducing the odor and even masking the scent to male dogs. It is not foolproof, however, and in order to have the most efficacy, timing is critical. It must be started at the very beginning of the female's season in order to be a viable scent-reducing option.
Pet stores and many online retailers also sell doggy diapers. They come in a variety of different styles from a basic cloth diaper in bright colors to tutus and skirts. Each diaper can be lined with a simple panty liner which can be easily removed and discarded as needed. This helps contain any odor. To further eliminate the scent, a small dab of Vicks VapoRub can be rubbed on the outside of the diaper to act as an odor repellent.