Dogs in Heat at the Salon

Okay, so female dogs go into heat. It’s a natural part of life and reproduction that we as groomers encounter regularly, as do pet parents.

For people who don’t know, when a female dog is in heat, or in season, she is able to reproduce. Her genitals and nipples swell and she bleeds for a few weeks, then remains swollen for another couple. Eventually, the swelling goes down and she is no longer fertile, until the next time she comes into season. The only time this cycle stops (unless there’s a medical problem) is when a female dog is spayed.

Many people I encounter don’t know that their dog is in heat. If they do, they don’t often tell their groomer that’s the case when they come in for an appointment. In one recent encounter, a customer thought their dog was spayed and so was very confused when we told her that her dog appeared to be in heat (This would need to be confirmed by a vet, seeing as being in heat and being spayed are two things that are impossible to happen together).

Now, not knowing your dog is in heat is somewhat confusing to me because you should be aware of what’s going on with your dog. Not to mention, her bleeding from her vagina is usually pretty obvious, what with the swelling and the blood going on back there. However, not knowing your dog is in heat makes it so you can’t tell your groomer so I’ll just say that you should pay more attention to your dog in this case.

If you know your dog is in heat, TELL YOUR GROOMER.

Some groomers won’t take dogs in heat. This is because of the hormones that fly around the salon as a result of a dog being in season. Dogs operate mostly off of their sense of smell. When you combine a female dog that’s in heat with dogs that are intact (male un-neutered dogs), you get a crazy situation full of horny males that smell a female in heat and therefore are harder to groom.

The female is often also high-strung and harder to handle for her grooming appointment. They’re emotional and not always very thrilled to have to stand or cooperate in the middle of their heat.

We had 3 intact males and one female in season in the salon very recently. It was a rough day for the dogs and their groomers.

Even if your groomer is willing to take a dog that’s in heat, you should absolutely tell them. Most groomers don’t appreciate having vaginal blood suddenly appear on their hands or arms from handling a dog they’re grooming and not know the dog they’re working with is in heat. We get up close and personal with every part of the dogs on our table, and that’s a somewhat gross surprise.

Another reason to postpone your grooming until after your dog has gone out of heat is that she’s going to be bleeding. I groomed a white dog the other day that left with fresh blood on her back legs. There is no way to keep a dog clean while she’s in heat, and (in my opinion) it’s a waste of a groom to wash a white dog and then send her home so she can get messy again.

Also, some salons are kennel free and let the dogs intermingle while they’re present at the groomer. That’s a great recipe for surprise puppies. Even if they aren’t allowed to intermingle, it doesn’t take very long for dogs to breed. One distracted second or a miscalculated distance between dogs and voila! Puppies.

Pay attention to your dog. Know if they’re spayed or not, know when they’re due to go into heat and how long it goes for. Keep in mind that they’re still fertile once the bleeding stops for a couple weeks or so. Every dog is different on their cycles, so learn your dog.

and TELL YOUR GROOMER or simply reschedule when your dog is in heat.

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