There are some things we just can’t help but be curious about. And while it may seem like a strange topic, there’s actually more to know than you might think.
We’ve all seen those videos of dogs licking menstrual blood off the ground and wondered what they’re thinking – or if they’re even aware that it’s coming from humans at all. Why would they want to do that?
Here’s The Short Reason To Why Dogs Lick Period Blood:
The most possible explanation is that dogs are attracted to the taste and smell of menstrual blood. Other reasons include bad habits, rewarded behavior, boredom, and anxiety.
7 Common Reasons Why Your Dog Licks Your Period Blood
Here are more in-depth explanations for each of the reasons why your dog might be licking your period blood:
1. They’re Attracted To The Taste And Smell
Out of all the possible reasons as to why dogs lick menstrual blood, all vets that I’ve talked to agree that this is the most likely one.
It has been long known that dogs possess a powerful sense of smell, which is many times stronger than ours. As a comparison, humans have 6 million smell receptors, while dogs have up to 300 million.
To put it into perspective, they can smell 100,000 times better than humans, or quoting an analogy from Dr. Michael T. Nappier, DVM, DABVP, of the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, “It is so sensitive that [dogs can] detect the equivalent of a 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.”
This heightened sense of smell is what makes their noses become their main primary tool to explore and gather information about anything they come across.
To provide just another example of how powerful dogs’ noses are, here is an article from Understanding Animal Research that talks about how dogs can be trained to detect certain diseases such as cancer and diabetes just by sniffing a person’s breath or body odors.
But why are they so attracted to period blood?
It all comes down to apocrine glands, which are located in the groins and armpits. These glands produce a pheromone that not only relays all different types of information, such as age, sex, mood, and reproductive status but also sets off all kinds of reactions in dogs, sexual or not.
And this is where it all comes together. When you are menstruating, there are likely pheromones coming off of you in high concentrations, which makes your blood all the more attractive to your dog.
They’re not just licking it because they think it’s fun (although that could be one reason too), but because they legitimately can’t help but be drawn in by the smell.
2. They Pick Up This Bad Behavior from Other Dogs
While this is one of the most unlikely reasons why your dog licks your period blood, it’s still a possibility. Dogs are just like us in that they can pick up bad habits from each other.
If your dog happens to be licking up a lot of menstrual blood, it’s possible that another dog in the household started this habit and that your pup is just simply following suit.
But I have only one dog in the house, you might be thinking.
Even if that’s the case, it’s possible that they learn this habit from somewhere else, such as at a friend’s house that your dog happens to be spending a lot of time at.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution for this if it turns out to be the reason. You can train your dog not to do certain behaviors by consistent reinforcement of the acceptable behavior.
3. You Have Inadvertently Encouraged The Behavior
Now, I’m not saying that you’re purposely rewarding your dog when they lick up your period blood by giving them treats or petting them, but providing any type of attention could inadvertently be interpreted as a reward.
Let me explain it more.
If you have children, you have most likely seen them do something wrong and yelled at them. For example, you might yell something like, “Jimmy, stop it!”
In the case of your child, Jimmy knows that you’re mad, and he knows why you are angry, so he stops doing whatever it is that caused your anger.
With your dog, however, the opposite effect may occur. They don’t understand human language, so they may not know what they’re being yelled at for. But there is one thing that they do understand, and that’s attention, regardless of the intention behind it.
So when you yell at them, guess what? They’re actually more likely to continue doing whatever it was they were doing even more because they’re thinking, “Okay, I must be doing something good because I elicit some type of emotional response out of my human.”
4. They’re Scavengers
In the wild, dogs’ ancestors were scavengers, which means that they’re always attracted to the scent of blood as it means that there is an opportunity to find food.
Even thousands of years of the domestication process can’t change these primal urges. So while you may find it gross, when your dog smells your menstrual blood, they’re instinctively driven to investigate it in case there is some food source waiting for them.
5. Anxiety and Boredom
Anxiety can make dogs do some pretty strange things, and licking period blood is one of them. Maybe they’re feeling anxious because you’ve been away all day or there are some big life changes happening in their life, such as moving to a new home.
It’s also possible that your dog just simply gets bored, and one way of relieving boredom is by licking things around them – and your menstrual blood happens to be an easy target.
A good clue of when anxiety might be the reason is when your dog shows other signs of anxiety, such as excessive scratching or incessant barking.
Which Dogs Are More Likely To Do It?
When it comes to dogs licking period blood, any dog has the potential to develop this habit given the right circumstances. However, in my years of experience, the most cases that I have seen are with male dogs.
That’s not to say that female dogs never lick menstrual blood, but it just seems to be more common in males.
Male dogs seem to be more attracted to scents than female dogs. It may not necessarily be menstrual blood that they’re attracted to, as it could just as easily be another scent. But if your period blood happens to smell different from usual and enters their radar, they’re more likely to investigate it out of curiosity.
Also, if you have a dog that is bred for hunting, such as bloodhounds and basset hounds, they’re much more likely to be driven toward scents.
How Can You Get Your Dog to Stop Licking Your Period Bad
So what can you do to prevent them from licking your period blood? Here are some tips to try.
1. Reduce Their Accessibility
This is by far one of the best ways to stop dogs from licking menstrual blood. You want to be mindful of where you leave your pads and tampons lying around the house. You can do this by simply keeping your used pads and tampons in pet-proof trash can so that your dog can’t get to them.
Another thing you can do is to keep your laundry hamper in a place where your dog can’t reach it or put the dirty laundry in a room where your dog can’t get to it.
2. Bag Your Used Pads and Tampons
This simple step will also go a long way to stop your dog from licking your menstrual blood.
Whenever you want to throw your used pads and tampons away, you can simply put them in a sealable zipper-style plastic bag before disposing of them in the trash can. This will help contain the scent of your period blood and make your dog much less likely to investigate it.
3. Spray a Little Dog Repellent Around the Rim of the Trash Can
A little deterrent can go a long way. If you’re having trouble keeping your dog from getting to your trash can, you can try spraying a little dog repellent around the rim. This will turn them off from wanting to investigate the trash can any further.
4. Keep Your Bathroom Door Closed
Out of all the solutions that I’ve suggested, this is probably the simplest one to do. Just close your bathroom door while you’re having a period, and that way, you can minimize your dog’s access to your menstrual blood.