The other day I looked over at my dog Shirley and was surprised to see her looking kinda wobbly and sleeping a lot, sort of the way I do when I have a hangover.
She kept staring at me with those sad, droopy almond-shaped Rottweiler eyes. Except, this time they looked extra sad. Like she was trying to tell me something.
I wondered if she was okay and kept checking on her to find out what gives. I got extra worried when she whimpered like she was in pain. After checking, and doing some calculations, I found the root cause of her discomfort.
As it turned out, she was in heat for the very first time. If you are anything like myself, It can be hard to handle seeing your dog in so much pain. Plus, it isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to find the right pet medicine for pain relief for your pet.
Whether they have been stung by a bee, have a sore paw, or have their period, watching them suffer is something no pet parent wants to do. There are many symptoms that a dog in heat experiences.
One symptom I find unnerving to see is when my pooch cries. During their phase of heat, female dogs sometimes cry to the point where it almost seems as if something is wrong. I decided to look further into the matter.
Do Dogs Get Period Cramps?
Yes, dogs do get cramps during their periods. Perhaps the process is not identical to human cramps, but similar nonetheless.
This is an opportunity where we, as her human owner can help make her comfortable, relaxed, and calm. Indulge your dog a bit by giving her an extra soft pillow, some quality time, and dog treats during her time of heat, especially if she is going through this for the first time.
There will be both behavioral and physical signs when your dog is in heat. Your dog will also have a swollen vulva, blood-tinged discharge, and urinate more often.
She may also be more receptive to male dogs, distracted and nervous. She may even go after your male dogs herself until her period is over. This lasts for around 3-weeks. The discharge turns pink and she may become pregnant even after the second week.
What Causes Period Cramps In Dogs?
What causes period cramps in your pooch is not exactly the same from what causes them in humans. In humans, prostaglandins which are substances like hormones cause dysmenorrhea, also known as period cramps.
This causes contraction of the walls of the uterus to shed its lining, which essentially, is what a period is. Often, cramps are associated with higher prostaglandin levels. You might say that the natural process of uterus walls being shed each month is what causes period cramps in humans.
Of course, your she-dog is physically different from humans. Remember, however, that the process of reproduction is quite similar.
Since they can’t verbally express themselves, however, the general agreement is that a female dog that goes through heat is not unlike human discomfort during their menstruation cycle.
It is presumed that the cramps that contractions caused in a human’s uterine walls are more or less what goes on in your dog’s uterus during the heat cycle, as well.
Remember, though that humans’ and canines’ reproductive systems are similar but not the same. In humans, menstruation suggests that no fertilization has occurred.
However, in dogs, it is the opposite. When your dog begins bleeding or having a period, this begins her heat cycle which means that she is receptive to the possibility of becoming pregnant.
Thus, they are not shedding the lining of their uterus. Rather, instead of getting rid of their linings, they tend to reabsorb it. The heat cycle is when the hormone estrogen triggers the blood vessels of the uterus to be extremely permeable.
It leaks through a diapedesis process and causes a discharge of blood. This process does not involve muscle spasms or contractions. Rather, diapedesis is a passive process.
When your dog starts crying and is in heat at the same time, it can be due to the hormonal changes and discomfort she feels while she is in heat. Her crying can also attract male dogs and act as a mating call.
How Long Do Dog Periods Last?
Depending on their breed, female dogs tend to reach maturity around six months old and get their first estrus cycle, also known as their heat cycle. In this stage, their levels of estrogen increase and then decrease sharply.
Then, eggs are released from her ovaries. Typically, a heat cycle lasts between two to four weeks. Among breeders, the best practice is to wait until the third heat cycle of your dog before breeding. Your vet can tell you when your dog is ready if you want to be sure.
Typically, dogs go on heat every 180-days. Smaller dogs get their periods more frequently, as much as every three months. Larger breeds like Saint Bernards and Great Danes only get their periods once a year.
What Can You Give A Dog To Relieve Menstrual Cramps?
Your vet can prescribe something after an examination to help with the pain. However, when your vet is out of town, knowing what to buy ahead of time does come in handy.
For humans, over-the-counter pain meds are easy to come by. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and paracetamol are common to use for pain. Many humans are tempted to give the same meds to your dog when he is in pain.
The thing is, the biology of your dog is just too different from yours. Giving your dog medication and possibly in incorrect dosage could cause more, rather than less, trouble.
When you give human pain meds to dogs, this could cause your pet to develop kidney and liver damage, holes in the lining of their stomach, ulcers, or gastrointestinal bleeding.
You can, however, give your dog non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs designed for dogs called NSAID’s. These reduce fever, pain, and inflammation.
Your vet may even prescribe aspirin, which is an NSAID to your pet, under strict supervision. the list of NSAIDs for dogs includes Metacam, Previcox, Deramaxx, Rimadyl, or Novox.
Your vet will prescribe these for your pet if needed. If your dog is taking these medications for the first time, watch out for possible side effects including vomiting, diarrhea, digestive issues, skin redness, loss of appetite, and changes in behavior.
Your vet will be more familiar with what is causing pain in your pet and will know what to do. Remember to read the instruction leaflet as well, since this will tell you everything you need to know about administering medication to your pet by yourself.
Recently, hemp seed and CBD oil have also been administered to dogs to treat pain. Oils, supplements, and treats that contain cannabis contain cannabinoids which are pain relievers. CBD comes from the stalks, leaves, and flowers of the hemp plant.
On the other hand, the oil of hemp seeds is extracted from the seeds and contain low CBD levels. Even with no formal research regarding hemp seed oil or CBD oil products, many pet owners have testified and seen great results. Talk to your veterinarian if you want to use hemp seed oil or CBD to treat your dog’s pain.
Alternative Pain Treatments
When it comes to pain relief for your fur child, there are alternative therapies that could help her feel less pain and improve her life quality at the same time.
For example, cold or heat therapy may just do the trick. Apply a hot gel pack or an ice pack to your dog’s stomach area and check to see if this helps her relax.
Aromatherapy might also work. Using essential oils will relieve stress and encourage relaxation. Massage therapy is another treatment you might want to try. Dogs are known to benefit from getting a massage.
This lowers her stress level, promotes better blood flow, results in relaxed muscles, and makes her sleep better. Lastly, you can use acupuncture to help relieve your dog’s discomfort. Acupuncture needles enhance blood circulation and release the body’s natural anti-inflammatory responses.
Consult a holistic vet near you and remember that alternative therapy needs to be performed by a veterinary massage therapist, a vet acupuncturist, or any licensed professional.
When your dog is in pain, feed her a high-quality diet of her favorite, age-appropriate meal, and ensure regular exercise. Help keep your pooch in great shape by maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Don’t forget that being a good pet parent will do wonders in terms of alleviating your dog’s discomfort.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about what your dog goes through when she is in heat, and how to relieve her discomfort.
Everything you need to know about what medications to take, what alternative therapies are available, and what actually occurs each time your dog is in heat has been explained above. I hope all the research I did to figure out my dog Shirley will come in handy for your own dog, as well.