Dog stretching in a diaper.

A female dog in heat can be messy business. If you have a dog who you are planning to breed, though, it is necessary to figure out how to cope. Long Animal Hospital has some tips for pet owners when it comes to surviving a heat cycle and choosing a diaper for a dog in heat. 

How to Get Through an Estrus Cycle

Estrus, more commonly referred to as being “in heat,” is the time when a female dog is hormonally ready to breed. Dogs begin to experience estrus at the time of sexual maturity (between 5 months and up to two years of age depending on the breed) and typically occurs twice a year. 

During estrus, which typically lasts around 2-4 weeks, the female dog will often have an engorged vulva and nipples and may have bloody vaginal discharge. She may also urinate more than normal and lick her vulva. 

During this time period, make things easier on yourself and your pup by:

  • Keeping her secure from intact males with which you do not wish for her to breed 
  • Not leaving her unattended outside
  • Giving her some space away from other dogs
  • Trying not to worry too much if her eating habits seem erratic
  • Provide her with love and reassurance during this sometimes stressful time
  • Protect your home from discharge with washable blankets and throws
  • Consider using a well-fitted dog diaper 

Choosing a Diaper for a Dog in Heat

Using something to protect your home from estrus discharge is a no-brainer, but choosing a diaper for a dog in heat can be overwhelming. 

Being sure that the diaper fits well is the primary thing to pay attention to. While some people convert diapers for human babies or incontinent adults into a makeshift doggy diaper, these can be challenging to get to fit well. Humans don’t have tails and are shaped a little differently. 

There are certainly commercial dog diapers as well. Some are washable and reusable while others are partially or fully disposable. When choosing a diaper for a dog in heat, consider:

  • Whether you prefer reusable or disposable
  • Your dog’s breed and size
  • The fabric type (you want something that wicks moisture and is breathable)
  • How tight the diaper is around her waist (too tight can cause chafing and discomfort while not tight enough may not stay up)
  • If your dog may need something like suspenders to help the diaper stay up (helpful for sloped back ends such as that on a German Shepherd) vs a belly band

Be sure to change your pet’s diaper often to prevent skin irritation and urinary tract problems. Some dogs will need training to associate good things with wearing a diaper, so be prepared to reward your pet.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for the best doggy diaper because it depends on your pet’s shape and individual needs.

Of course, there is one way to not have to deal with heat cycles–we do recommend spaying any pet who is not being bred. Please feel free to ask if you need help deciding how to handle your pet in heat or regarding spay/neuter. We are here to help.