There’s often debate on whether it’s ok to put diapers on a dog in heat. In this guide I will explain why you should put pants on a dog when in season, how long the dog can wear a diaper, and how to keep it on.
As you might have guessed already, I have a firm opinion on this… but will explain the pros and cons to dog heat diapers.
Should dogs wear diapers when in heat? Dogs should wear heat diapers in heat if you are worried about stains and hygiene in your home. It can also act as a barrier for prospective male suitors who might feel amorous around her when she is in heat.
Why dogs can wear diapers in heat / season
Healthy female dogs, that have not been neutered, come into heat or estrus, for the first time at around 6 to 7 months of age. In smaller breeds, the heat cycle recurs every 6-7 months, thereafter, and lasts for 10 to 14 days.
This sends out a powerful signal to male canines that females are ready to mate.
During much of this period, your dog will be discharging sloughed uterine material at regular intervals and urinating more frequently. If she is an inside dog and is allowed to run round naked, she will leave a trail of stains, and accompanying odours wherever she goes.
That is a good reason why dogs should wear diapers in heat.
One of the solutions to this problem, is to clothe her in a doggy diaper or similar apparatus, to prevent damage to your décor. This practice has pros and cons which will discussed below.
Why you would want your dog to wear a diaper during heat
1. Aesthetics might be a primary reason for using a dog diaper
Unfortunately, the discharge phase is one of the first signs that your female dog is in heat, along with a swollen vulva. It pays to stay alert around the time that an estrus cycle is expected.
Having your dog wear a diaper during heat prevents stains, from the discharge, from marring your furniture, carpets, and bedding, if your pet sleeps with you.
2. Being in heat is an abnormal condition, when viewed from your pet’s perspective
She will most likely be irritated by the discharge and pay an inordinate amount of time and attention to grooming, i.e., licking, her genital area. A heat diaper will help prevent this. She might also get cramps in heat, and try to paw at the area.
This can be disconcerting for the residents of your home and may be embarrassing if you have guests round. Keeping the area covered will hopefully circumvent this social disquiet.
3. She will attract male dog’s attention
If left outside for any length of time, your female could attract the interests of intact males for a radius of up to three miles. If you take her for a walk, a diaper will eliminate the trail of pheromones left behind for male dogs.
Should, by some unfortunate circumstance, your dog be left unattended, a heat diaper will make penetration by avid suitors a little more difficult.
Heat diapers can by no means be regarded as a contraceptive measure but if your female dog is wearing one, it may afford you sufficient time to rescue the situation.
Additional changes in the female’s behaviour
Being in estrus is a hormonal event. Much like with her human counterparts, your pet could experience mood swings. She could also become irritable, agitated or clingy. You might also see physical changes in her, such as enlarged nipples.
As the estrus cycle progresses, the position of her tail will shift. She will become increasing attracted to resident male dogs, even those that have been neutered.
She will want to urinate more frequently. If you have trained her to asked to be let out, expect to spend more time on door duty during this time. If she has been trained to go on pee pads, you need to stock up on more of these.
Handy Hint: I’ve compiled a large list of common behaviors that female dogs in heat display.
Factors to consider when using dog heat diapers
Dog diapers are a great convenience, but they can also cause problems, if not used correctly. For example, it is not advisable to leave your diapered dog outside or home alone, indoors, for a full working day.
It is recommended that the dog’s heat diapers be changed often, that is, at least twice during the day. This will prevent a build-up of bacteria in the discharge, which is in essence, bits of decaying body matter.
The diaper will inevitably also trap small amounts of urine in the fur around the genital area. This creates an acidic environment which could cause the equivalent of a nappy rash.
Broken skin will give bacteria an opportunity to cause urinary tract and other infections.
Sanitising and soothing
When changing the diaper, you could sanitise and soothe the genital area as you would a baby’s, by wiping it clean and applying an anti-rash cream. Be aware that some baby creams contain zinc which may be harmful when applied to your dog.
Alternatively, you could allow your pet to run diaper-free for a short while, allowing her to groom the area herself. This could coincide with her request for a wee break, outside.
How do you keep a diaper on a female dog in heat?
Diapers need to fit snugly without being too tight, to prevent chafing and skin irritation in the groin area. Fortunately, doggy diapers are available commercially, in a range of sizes. You should be able to find ones that fit your dog.
Despite the design of the heat diaper, it could prove difficult to keep it on the female dog when in heat. After all, it’s an unnatural feeling for dogs to wear one.
Chances are high, at least in the first few days, that your pet will be annoyed by the unfamiliar apparatus and try to remove it. She may be aided and abetted by other dogs in the household who will see it as an anomaly or an interesting plaything.
There are two methods for keeping a diaper on a dog in heat. Suspenders in the form of a harness can be attached to the diaper to hold it in place.
Alternatively, you could dress your dog in a onesie, like those worn by infants and toddlers. These are not ideal in the heat of summer but could keep your dog quite comfortable during the cooler seasons.
How long can a dog wear a diaper in heat?
Dogs can wear a heat diaper all day, but not at night. I recommend that the heat diaper is also changed daily for comfort and hygiene.
In terms of how long the dog wears heat diaper, well, heat can last a month, so it could be for 30 days in worst cases.
Can a dog wear a diaper overnight?
I don’t recommend letting your dog sleep overnight with a diaper on unless absolutely necessary. You might find in the morning it’s been chewed off due to the discomfort. Similarly, if your dog is swimming in water to relieve heat symptoms, a diaper is a no-no.
Another consideration is if the dog pees in the diaper at night. The urine could cause a nasty rash. Urine burns, bacterial infections, and more are all a risk. Find out more in this article about dogs sleeping at night with diapers on.
Take the heat diaper off when your dog sleeps, and put absorbent puppy pads on the floor instead (view on Amazon).
Types of diapers, and alternatives
There are different solutions to the question of using heat diapers for your dog. Firstly, there are disposable ones, which come in a range of sizes (view on Amazon). They are like those available for babies, except for the sealed aperture which is made for the tail to stick through.
Reusable diapers are made of more durable fabric and can be washed and used again. This makes them a more environmentally friendly alternative, as they do not end up as often in landfill, unlike their disposable equivalents.
Their functionality can also be supplemented by the strategic insertion of a lady’s sanitary pad. This can be discarded and replaced, without having to change the doggy diaper as frequently.
How to make a DIY dog diaper for heat
Another, possibly less expensive, DIY heat diaper alternative, would be to make use of a pair of the appropriately sized boy’s underpants. If you turn them so that the ‘pee hole’ faces the dog’s back, you have an ingenious outlet for the tail.
These would need the insertion of a sanitary towel or pad. They would also need to be tweaked at the waist, using a safety or diaper pin, to adjust the size.
All of the above can be worn, attached to suspenders, or under a onesie.
Most modern diapers and sanitary towels are made using ‘wick away’ materials that draw in moisture and keep it away from the body. Ensure that you are using such products to prevent adding to your dog’s discomfort.
Alternative solutions to using doggy diapers
If you choose not to use doggy diapers, you will need to protect all the surface that your pet encounters. This would mean avoiding carpeted areas and keeping her constrained to areas where the floors can be cleaned easily, such as laminated or linoleum surfaces.
If your dog is allowed up on the furniture, the affected areas should be protected with washable or disposable covers. Older dogs may be easier to confine to one or two areas but a pup or a youngster will prove more challenging.
Similar precautions will need to be taken with her bedding or the area where she sleeps with her humans. Bedding, specifically designed and made for dogs who are becoming incontinent, could prove useful. It uses a mesh covering, combined with the same wick away material used in modern diapers, to keep your dog dry at night.
You could also put her outside more frequently, but this may cause frustration and heartache for the surrounding male dog population. Anti-pheromone spray will go some way to alleviating this problem.
Birth control measures include canine contraceptive pills. These are not effective in preventing your pup’s first season but can be used for subsequent cycles. They are not an ideal long-term solution as they may cause hormonal and other health problems, such as weight gain.
If you have no intention of breeding with your female, consider having her spayed (she might still bleed though). Consult your vet for advice on the ideal age to do so.
I believe the pros outweigh the cons when asking whether a dog should wear diapers in heat. You might not agree with me, and that’s ok… as dogs would not wear heat diapers in the wild…
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Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/puppy-yorkie-dog-pet-canine-4608266/