How to Bathe a Dog in Heat

Easy
10 - 20 Minutes
1 Week

Introduction

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.

Dog's Perspective

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.

The Full Bath Method

Effective
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Shampoo
Dryer
Towel
Step
1
Be prepeared
Have everything ready so you don’t take longer than necessary bathing your dog while she is in heat.
Step
2
Wet and shampoo
Wet your dog down and shampoo with a soothing shampoo that will not irritate her skin.
Step
3
Monitor mood
Work slowly and calmly and pay attention to your dog's mood, as she may react unpredictably. If she seems agitated, take steps to calm her or end bathing sooner.
Step
4
Condition
Apply conditioner to prevent skin irritation, as more frequent bathing during heat can lead to dry skin.
Step
5
Dry carefully
Dry your dog carefully, so as not to overheat your dog, over-dry her skin, or irritate and agitate a female dog in heat. Towel dry and air dry if possible.
Recommend grooming method?

The Partial Bath Method

Effective
0 Votes
Spray
Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Pin Brush
Towel
Step
1
Wipe back end
Clean your dog's back end between baths with pet wipes to remove blood and discharge if necessary. Your dog may clean herself fairly well--allow her to do so.
Step
2
Spray and clean
Clean your dog's hind end with a moist washcloth and spray. Wipe away blood and discharge without soap, which can irritate the genitals if overused.
Step
3
Fill a small bath
If wiping is not sufficient, fill a basin or utility sink with a few inches of warm water and gentle shampoo, like oatmeal shampoo, and have your dog sit in the basin while you gently clean her backside.
Step
4
Rinse
Have your dog stand and rinse her back end of shampoo and soiled water.
Step
5
Dry carefully
Wrap your dog's backend in a towel and pat dry. By not wetting her head and entire body you avoid her shaking and splattering dirty water all over your house. Also, a more limited bath will result in less dry skin or water in eyes, ears, and mouth.
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Caution & Considerations

  • Use gentle shampoo and conditioner, as frequent bathing can result in dry skin.
  • Watch your dog in heat for unexpected behavior. Dogs in heat can be anxious or even unexpectedly aggressive.  Pay attention to her body language.
  • Be prepared to have wipes on hand to clean up discharge. You can reduce mess by covering furniture with old blankets or using doggy diapers specially designed for dogs in heat.

Conclusion


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.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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