Angel is a Chocolate Labrador mix. Her owners adopted Angel from a shelter and were told at the time that she was about 6 months old. Within a few days of coming home however, Angel starts acting particularly odd, following her owners around the house, whining. The next day her owners notice a bloody discharge coming from her vulva. Sounds like Angel either went into heat unexpectedly early, or she may be older than they were told. Since spaying is usually recommended when female dogs are not in heat, her owners are going to need to deal with this heat cycle and bathe Angel occasionally to keep her clean for the next few weeks.
Female dogs come into heat approximately every 6 months if not spayed. Most dogs experience their first heat cycle at 9 months or more but some experience heat sooner, taking their owners by surprise. During this time they are fertile and can become impregnated. Signs of heat cycle include a swollen vulva, bloody discharge, and mood changes--your female dog may be grumpy, unpredictable, or clingy.
Female dogs in heat do not always act like themselves. They may be anxious, clingy, or irritable. In addition, discharge may make bathing your dog while she is in heat necessary, however, you will need to take into consideration that your furry friend is not herself and work calmly and with patience so as not to agitate or upset her.
Whether you are a breeder that routinely deals with dogs in heat, or a pet owner that has been caught unaware by a young unspayed female dog coming into heat, you will probably want to bathe your female dog at some point while she is in heat. Bathing a dog in heat is similar to bathing your dog at any other time, except that you will want to watch for unpredictable, unexpected behavior and avoid over-bathing, which can cause dry or irritated skin. Doing partial cleanings and baths can help avoid some of the irritating effects of skin drying from having a full bath too often. Having your dog spayed will prevent having to deal with messy heat cycles in the future.