Humans have a menstrual cycle every month, but for some reason dogs don’t have this monthly period.
They do, however, experience a similar phenomenon called “estrous cycles” which are also known as heat cycles.
Dogs and humans share many similarities.
For example, both species share similar hormones that regulate our reproductive systems.
This is why it is so difficult to tell the difference between when your dog has her or his period and when they are having their estrous cycle.
In fact, there isn’t even any real scientific evidence that dogs actually suffer from cramps.
However, it is possible that dogs could be experiencing some form of discomfort during their estrous cycle.
So what causes these symptoms in dogs?
Let’s look at the different types of cramping that dogs may experience throughout their life.
What Causes Cramps in Dogs?
The estrous cycle takes place in female dogs and it lasts about four weeks.
During that time, your dog goes through several stages:
- Proestrus: This stage is when your dog starts showing signs of sexual activity such as urinating more frequently, and exhibiting increased scent marking and mounting behavior.
- Estrus: This is the next phase where your dog will be sexually active and ready to mate.
- Metestrus: This is when your dog is likely to be fertilized by the male dog during mating, and she may show interest in other males.
- Diestrus: After being fertilized, your dog will go into diestrus, where they will be less interested in mating and will stop producing estrogen or progesterone.
During these phases, your dog will also exhibit different physical changes including an increase in appetite, weight gain, and urine production.
She’ll also start to feel lethargic and tired, and may even become aggressive at times.
Dogs can sometimes develop reproductive problems like cystic ovaries, which causes them to produce less estrogen than normal.
Other issues include polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) and pyometra, both of which cause your dog to have an extremely painful vaginal discharge.
In some cases, dogs who aren’t able to reproduce may develop uterine tumors, which can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
It’s important to note that all dogs go through these stages, even those without reproductive organs.
So, while some dogs may experience cramping or discomfort, others won’t.
The only way to know whether you dog has cramps is to see her veterinarian.
How to Tell if Your Dog is Having Cramps
Dogs can still experience cramping during estrous cycles just like humans do.
The difference between a human and a dog experiencing cramps is that a dog will never go through menopause, nor will they ever develop any type of hormonal imbalance.
A dog’s estrous cycle usually lasts longer than a human’s due to many factors including the size of their reproductive organs.
If you think your dog is having cramps, there are several things you should know about them before taking them to the vet.
1. Dogs Will Not Have Premenstrual Symptoms
Premenstrual symptoms are those that occur in women during their menstrual cycle.
These include bloating, breast tenderness, water retention, or headaches.
Women may also experience these types of symptoms up to three weeks before the start of their menstrual cycle.
In contrast, dogs will not experience premenstrual symptoms.
This means that they won’t feel bloated, uncomfortable, lethargic, or experience any other problems before their estrous cycle starts.
2. A Dog’s Estrous Cycle Can Last Up to Five Weeks
The average human menstrual cycle lasts anywhere from four to five days.
However, it can last as long as 21 days in some cases.
This is because a woman’s ovaries release an egg at the beginning of her menstrual cycle.
The egg then travels down into the fallopian tube where it meets sperm.
If both parties are ready, the fertilized egg will travel back up into the uterus where it will implant itself onto the wall lining.
After that, the uterine lining thickens so that blood can flow normally.
Dog’s estrous cycles are much shorter than human menstrual cycles.
Some dogs will only experience one estrous cycle per year while others may experience multiple ones throughout the year.
3. A Dog’s Ovaries Are Smaller Than Humans
One way that we can tell if a dog is experiencing cramps is by looking at its reproductive organs.
In humans, the ovaries are located right above the bladder.
In dogs, the ovaries are much smaller and they’re located near the kidneys.
While it’s true that they both produce eggs, the fact that the ovaries are smaller in dogs makes it easier for them to be affected by diseases.
For example, endometriosis in humans can affect the ovaries, making it difficult for them to produce eggs.
Endometriosis causes scar tissue to form around the ovary, preventing it from producing a healthy egg.
4. A Dog Has Three Types of Estrus Cycles
Most dogs will experience all three types of estrus cycles.
The first phase is called “proestrus”.
During this stage, a female dog is sexually receptive and she’ll want to mate with anyone who comes along.
During the second phase, the female dog will become more aggressive, exhibiting signs of aggression.
She’ll be less interested in mating and more interested in protecting herself from predators.
The third phase is when a female dog goes into heat.
During this phase, she’ll be very sexual and she’ll want to mate with anyone who comes along.
It’s important to note that females that are in heat will not always show signs of aggressiveness.
What You Can Do to Help Your Dog with Cramps
Dogs can experience cramps just like humans and so it is important that you know how to help your dog when they are experiencing them.
If you suspect that your dog has cramps then there are things you can do right away to help ease their discomfort.
Here are some tips on what you can do to help your dog when they are having cramps.
1. Keep Them Hydrated
Your dog will be dehydrated if they start to feel nauseous or dizzy or if they are passing blood in their urine.
This happens because they are no longer absorbing enough water from their food.
If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms then make sure they are drinking plenty of water.
Also, try giving them an electrolyte-rich drink such as Pedialyte to boost their hydration levels.
2. Offer Your Dog Some Calming Medication
If your dog starts to exhibit signs of anxiety then you should give them something to calm them down.
There are many calming medications that you can buy over the counter from your local pharmacy.
These include antihistamines, antidepressants, and anxiolytics (also known as sedatives).
You should only offer your dog one of these calming medicines at a time and keep track of how effective they are.
Once you find one that works well then you can use it regularly to reduce their stress.
3. Monitor Their Movement
Watching your dog move around during their period can tell you a lot about how they are feeling.
If they are limping, dragging themselves around, or seem lethargic then you should take them to see the vet straight away for a checkup.
4. Make Sure They Have Enough Exercise
Exercise is good for everyone and especially for dogs.
It helps them stay fit and healthy.
However, they may need more exercise than usual if they are suffering from cramps.
Try making sure that they get plenty of walks or playtime every day.
Even just a short walk will go a long way towards helping them feel better.
5. Give Them Something to Chew On
Dogs love chewing on bones, rawhide chews, and even treats.
All of these things contain protein which is great for keeping them nourished and hydrated.
They will also help them relax by providing them with something to chew on while they are waiting for their next meal.
6. Be Patient With Them
You should never force your dog to eat anything.
This includes food and water.
If they don’t want to eat then leave them alone until they decide to start eating again.
Don’t worry though, they will eventually let themselves eat once they realize that they need to replenish their energy levels.
The same applies to water.
If your dog doesn’t want to drink then you shouldn’t force them to either.
Wait until they are ready to drink before offering them more water.
When to See the Vet for Dog Cramps
If your dog is experiencing severe pain or discomfort during her estrous cycle, it’s time to see your vet.
She may be having an infection, blood clotting disorder, or other health problem that can cause severe pain and discomfort.
A veterinarian will perform a physical exam and check your dog’s temperature, heart rate, breathing, and general overall well-being.
If your dog is exhibiting any unusual behaviors, has a fever, or seems lethargic, she should be seen right away.
It could be something minor like a bladder infection that needs a simple antibiotic prescription, but it could also be more serious.
The signs and symptoms for each situation are different, so you need to know how to tell if your dog is having cramps.
1. Signs of Infection
If your dog has an infection, she might seem lethargic, have a fever, or appear disoriented.
A dog with an infection may also vomit, urinate abnormally, have diarrhea, or lose her appetite.
You should always take your dog to the vet when she appears ill, even if she doesn’t show all of these symptoms.
Sometimes, infections aren’t easy to diagnose because they can look very similar to other conditions such as allergies, food sensitivities, or kidney disease.
2. Signs of Blood Clotting Disorder
Your dog may experience severe pain and discomfort at certain times during her estrous cycle.
This can be caused by a number of things, including excessive bleeding, excess fluid in her body, or a uterine tumor (which would require surgery).
If your dog is having a lot of vaginal bleeding and is uncomfortable, lethargic, or has a fever, she should see the vet immediately.
The vet will perform a complete medical exam and test to make sure there isn’t another underlying condition causing your dog’s symptoms.
If it turns out she does have a blood clotting disorder, she may need to stop breeding and start taking anticoagulant medications.
3. Signs of Kidney Disease
If your dog is suddenly showing signs of weakness, vomiting, or difficulty walking, especially around the time of her heat cycle, she should see the vet immediately.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is one possible cause of this type of behavior, but it could also be due to kidney failure.
Another possibility is that your dog has polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which causes her kidneys to become enlarged over time.
PKD usually requires dialysis treatment, but it’s treatable early enough that many dogs live long, happy lives.
Possible Treatments for Dog Cramps
There are many possible treatments for dog cramps that can help relieve your dog’s discomfort and pain.
A veterinarian should be consulted before trying any of these methods on your dog.
The following list is a brief guide to what you can try on your own.
1. Pain Medication
If your dog has been experiencing severe pain or discomfort during estrus, it could be due to hormonal imbalances.
If your dog has been displaying signs of distress such as excessive panting, pacing, licking, or biting at her genitals, she may need an anti-inflammatory medication to reduce inflammation and swelling in her reproductive organs.
These medications can include NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.; or steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as prednisone, dexamethasone, betamethasone, etc.
It is important to note though that these medications are only used to treat mild to moderate cases of canine estrus.
For more serious cases, your vet will prescribe stronger medications, such as opioids.
2. Ultrasound Treatment
Ultrasounds are noninvasive procedures where high frequency sound waves are used to produce images inside the body.
They are commonly used when treating certain types of cancer, but they can also be used to detect other abnormalities inside the body like tumors, cysts, or foreign objects.
An ultrasound treatment is a safe and effective way to reduce inflammation and swelling in your dog’s reproductive system.
This treatment involves placing your dog on a table while a technician performs an ultrasound scan on her abdomen.
The technician will then use a needle to inject a fluid into the area being examined, which causes the tissue to swell up and become visible under the ultrasound machine.
Once the area is swollen enough, the technician will remove the needle from the area and apply pressure to stop the bleeding.
Finally, the technician will use the same needle to inject another solution into the area that helps break down the tissue so that it can be absorbed by the body.
3. Steroid Cream
Another common method of relieving dog cramps is using a topical cream containing steroids.
Steroids are synthetic chemicals that mimic hormones produced naturally in the body.
They are often prescribed by veterinarians to reduce symptoms associated with certain diseases, such as arthritis, skin conditions, allergies, and even cancer.
Topical steroids are applied directly to the skin and are absorbed through the skin.
They work best when used early in the day to prevent them from interfering with normal hormone release.
While there is no evidence that applying steroids directly onto the vagina of a female dog increases the risk of cancer, it is better to err on the side of caution and avoid doing so.
There are many different brands of topical steroids available, including hydrocortisone, flurandrenolide, mometasone, and triamcinolone.
4. Anti-Inflammatory Herbs
A number of herbal remedies are available to help reduce inflammation and swelling in your dog’s reproductive organ.
Some examples include ginger, garlic, black pepper, horseradish, and chamomile tea.
These herbs are thought to contain active compounds that help block the production of inflammatory substances in the body.
Ginger contains active compounds called gingerols, which are responsible for its ability to reduce inflammation.
Garlic is rich in allicin, which is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Black pepper, horseradish, and chamomile tea are also rich in compounds that inhibit the production of histamines, which are known to cause inflammation.
However, it is important to remember that these herbs cannot replace proper veterinary care.
Consult a veterinarian before giving your dog any type of home remedy.
Prevention of Dog Cramps
The most common cause of dog cramps is stress.
This can be caused by anything from changes in your life to just normal day-to-day activities.
Stress can make your dog feel tired and lethargic, which can lead to them having a hard time moving around.
It can also make your dog more likely to suffer from food allergies or other health issues.
If you notice that your dog has been acting lethargic and isn’t able to move around easily, it may be because they are experiencing cramping.
If this sounds familiar, try keeping an eye out for any signs of trouble.
These could include things like excessive licking, panting, or drooling.
Another sign could be diarrhea or vomiting.
If you see these symptoms, take your dog to your vet immediately.
They will help diagnose what is causing the problem and then give your dog treatments depending on what they think is going on.