Listen to your dog

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An article written by Rebecca Hanlon of Speak Dog

We know that dogs are prone to many of the same sorts of hormonal imbalances that humans are, so it is highly likely that they can struggle in much the same way as we can throughout their time of menstruation. Adolescents is still an area we need to look at more closely in dogs. Many dogs are sent to shelters at this time due to how difficult a period it can be for them and subsequently how difficult it can be for their humans.

The more we understand something, the more empathetic we are and the more patient we become. Female dogs going through their season is still something that is under studied. Lets face it, it’s still under studied in humans. It is something that is very individual to each person. Some woman have a few cramps, may feel a bit tired, and be a little more irritable while others can be in horrendous amounts of pain and not know whether they feel like stabbing someone or sobbing for hours. Menopause can be hardly noticable to some and years of suffering for others. And whilst dogs dont go through menopause it’s safe to say that their bodies and minds go through similar changes to ours through their menstruating cycle.

From my experience, we need to be supporting them in many similar ways as we should be supporting woman. So how do you know when your girl may be coming into season? They may become more irritable, subdued, hyperactive, mouthy, more vocal or become quieter. You may even notice physical changes such as coat pattern changes, moulting more and change in fur texture. They may urinate more, lose their appetite or become more hungry. They may show signs of aggressive like behaviour, become more clingy and affectionate or be a little distant and not want contact. They can also become more nervous and jumpy. Does any of this ring any bells?

I know I can swing through most of these signs during certain times of the month. The more obvious signs seen during this phase in dogs include a swollen vulva, blood-tinged discharge, spots of blood and licking of the genital area. It is also very likely that dogs will experience varying levels of pain through this time. It’s also important to remeber that dogs are a lot better than us at covering pain up and can often be in pain without us realising. These changes, just like us, vary from dog to dog. And just like us, they need understanding and support through these times.

The biggest way of supporting dogs through this difficult time is to listen to their needs. Each dog will need support in different ways. If they are irritable, they may not want to socialise as much. If they do show signs of aggression or irritability then us getting angry with them will only make them feel worse. Being calm and supportive and choosing wisely which situations to put them will be key. Walking can be a great way of helping the body and mind feel better. Letting them forage and sniff and go at their pace. But if they would rather stay at home having a cuddle and snuggling with a hot water bottle that’s fine too.

Although their are no studies, that I know of, to suggest they have cravings, it wont hurt to offer them different types of food if they become fussy around meal times. Smaller meals more frequently may also suit some. Most of all, understanding and support, be guided by their needs and know that it is temporary. They are allowed off days. How often do we have them? Dogs are often a lot more stable in their behaviour than we are through difficult times. Many of us struggle with our hormonal changes but at least we can talk about it.

Make sure we listen to our dogs in a way we would like to be listened to.

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Ruth Martin

I have been volunteering at APROP since April 2018. You will normally find me there on Tuesday mornings, helping to care for, clean and feed the dogs. In 2019 I adopted Barney, a Podenco from APROP. In fact I have taken a distinct liking to the Podencos and some call me the Pod-Mother! I am also part of the adoptions team the fundraising team and I help by fostering dogs too. Helping animals brings me much joy and happiness into my life.

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