Do Dogs Get Period Cramps?

labrador retriever not feeling well and sleeping on the couch

Unspayed female canines usually experience an estrus cycle once or twice per year, and you’re curious if that includes period cramps. I’ll tell you what you need to know in this article.

Do dogs get period cramps? Dogs can experience period cramps, which are usually marked by mild pain and discomfort. To soothe your dog, use cold and heat or massage her. Medication might be warranted in very painful circumstances but requires veterinary approval.

Ahead, I’ll talk about what a period looks like in dogs, what symptoms it comes with, and how you can relieve the pain and discomfort your poor dog is going through. You won’t want to miss it, so make sure you keep reading! 

Can Dogs Get Period Cramps?

Female dogs have a reproductive cycle that’s known as estrus or a heat cycle. The cycle goes on for between 18 and 21 days and recurs one to two times per year.

Dogs four months and older can go into heat.

There are four stages of a female dog’s heat cycle, and the first one–proestrus–is when the period symptoms will start. You’ll notice a vaginal bloody discharge that can be spotty or more persistent, but what about pain?

Well, every dog is different, but yes, dogs can experience period cramps. 

If you’re a woman who’s suffered from menstrual cramps and you’re reading this, you might be wincing. Worry not, as a dog’s period cramps are not nearly as painful and intensive as a person’s are.

The reason is that the cramps–while they occur at the same time in a cycle–are not caused by the same thing. 

Human women have menstrual cramping and bleeding when they shed their uterine linings. 

Dogs bleed because high levels of estrogen increase the permeability of the blood vessels in the uterus. Then diapedesis occurs and so the blood vessels leak. 

That’s why a dog doesn’t bleed so much as they have bloody discharge when on their periods. 

Does diapedesis hurt?

Not really. What likely causes the period cramps in canines is their sudden shift in hormones. 

How Do You Know Your Dog Has Period Cramps?

It’s not like your dog can tell you she’s crampy and please get her the ibuprofen. You have to guess.

I should note that the intensity of pain that a dog experiences in estrus varies. Some dogs might seem fine even when they start bleeding while others won’t quite be themselves. 

Your dog can even be okay one cycle and then not so good the next. Here is what you should look out for.

Back Arching

Your poor pup is just trying to get comfortable, so she may arch her back like a cat a little more often when she’s in heat. 


If you didn’t just take your dog for a vigorous walk and it’s not hot out, then she shouldn’t be panting excessively. Well, unless she’s in heat. The panting could indicate she’s not feeling her best. 


Period cramps can bring out the worst in all of us, humans and dogs alike. 

If your normally sweet baby is growling or physically moving away from you, it’s a good idea to create some distance between you and her for the time being. 

Twitching or Shaking

A dog who’s having period pain may twitch or shake as well.

Your dog may exhibit some of the above symptoms, all of them, or none at all, and she can still be in pain. 

What About Whining?

Female dogs often whine at the beginning of their heat cycle. 

Although you might immediately jump to the conclusion that whining = suffering, don’t be so hasty.

Dogs can whine to express themselves, and that may be what yours is trying to do.

The hormonal changes she’s experiencing can leave her feeling moody. 

She may be lonelier than usual, more anxious, or more tired. Your dog is whining to let you know how she’s feeling. 

If not an expression of her feelings, then whining could have another origin.

Your female dog could be trying to call the males in the neighborhood to tell them she’s in heat.

You may hear more crying or moaning instead of whining, but the sounds would mean the same thing in this case. 

How to Relieve Dog Period Cramps

You can tell that your poor girl isn’t feeling great right now. Although she won’t have period cramps every month as humans do, you still hate seeing her in pain.

How can you lessen her discomfort? Per the intro, here’s what I would recommend.

Use Alternating Heat and Cold

Hot packs and cold packs, when applied in alternating order, can soothe the pain your dog may be going through. Place the packs directly on the dog’s stomach.

Ensure that a hot pack is not so hot that you’ll accidentally scald your dog. She’s going through enough right now and doesn’t need further pain!

This treatment isn’t a permanent fix, so if you notice that your dog is wriggling in discomfort a few hours later or the next day, feel free to use heat and cold again.

Massage Your Dog

I’d only recommend this if your dog is non-aggressive, even during her cycle. Your dog should also be used to being touched and handled.

If she isn’t, then now is no time to start!

Should your dog be okay with being handled even on her period, then you can massage her. Don’t just focus on her stomach, but her entire body. 

Gently knead and rub. If your dog seems uncomfortable, then move on to a different area or stop. 

Massaging your dog will do more than lessen her period pain. Her blood flow will increase, and she’ll feel very de-stressed as well.

If you really wanted to, you could use essential oils to make the massage experience authentic. You should only do this if your dog is not allergic to essential oils.

Get Some Exercise

A recommended treatment for period cramps in human women is to exercise, so why not the same for your dog? 

I’m not suggesting vigorous exercise here, of course. A short play session indoors or a walk around the block may reduce her pain.

The reason this works is that the body produces endorphins after physical activity. This feel-good hormone can temporarily block pain signals in both people and animals alike.

Try a Natural Remedy

If you’re into holistic treatments, then turmeric, valerian, and ginger root supplements are highly recommended for dogs who are in pain from their periods. 

Turmeric is supposed to act as an anti-inflammatory. Valerian is often used for–among many other things–menstrual pain. Ginger root is known to be efficient for human pain, and it may work for your dog.

That said, before you administer any of these treatments, be sure to call your pup’s vet and ask for their advice.

Use Anti-Inflammatory Medication

I’ve established throughout this article that most canine period pain is not severe. However, that’s not always the case.

If your dog is listless, lethargic, and refusing food after her estrus cycle begins, she may need a stronger treatment than a massage or ginger root supplement.

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can lessen your dog’s pain quickly. I must stress though that you have to call your vet before you pop pills into your dog’s mouth. 

Anti-inflammatory meds can cause yellow gums, yellow eyes, further lethargy, further decreased appetite, tar-colored or bloody stools, diarrhea, and vomiting. 

Your vet will create a dosage plan for your dog which may last a day or several. Follow this plan to prevent or lessen the above symptoms. 

Consider Spaying 

Did you know that dogs don’t go through menopause?

That means that for the rest of your dog’s life, however long that may be (and I hope it’s long!), she will go into heat at least once per year.

If the thought of regularly putting her in a diaper, massaging her, and monitoring for behavior changes seems daunting, then you might want to consider getting her spayed.

Today, reproductive surgeries like spays and neuters are quick, inexpensive, and not very painful for the animal. 

All the unwanted sexual behaviors your dog exhibits like humping and peeing all over the place will stop. 

Your dog’s heat cycles will be a thing of the past as well!

 Most importantly, your dog could live a long time, as spaying can prevent your dog from developing breast cancer later in life. 

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