A female dog will have her first heat period at six months old. After that, roughly twice a year, she will experience heat.
For humans, we call it menstrual cycle. This is where our reproductive system secrets unfertilized eggs through the bloody vaginal discharges. Estrous cycle is the right term for when the dog releases blood in their vagina to prepare for fertilization.
Unfertilized eggs for humans are secreted during menstrual cycle while unfertilized eggs for dogs are reabsorbed in the body at the end of the estrous cycle.
During the estrous cycle, male dogs are more attracted to female dogs for mating.
How Long Does Your Dog Stay in Heat?
Periods in dogs isn’t the same as periods in humans. Humans experience menstrual cycle every 28 days for an average of 7 days while dogs experience the same process every 180 days that lasts an average of 21 days per cycle.
Similarities with humans:
- Humans and dogs can both experience cramping.
- Mood swing is present for both.
- Both cycles are done for fertilization purposes.
Dog in Heat Stages
There are four stages of a dog’s estrus cycle. There are different signs for every stage to take note of.
First stage is Proestrus. This is where dog’s vulva will look larger than normal. Usually, this is accompanied by bloody vaginal discharge. You will notice a change in behavior and could become more attached to you.
Second stage is Estrous. In this stage, the vaginal discharge may change from bloody to a clear or brownish discharge. This is where your dog becomes ready to breed.
Third is Diestrus. In this stage, her vulva will slowly shrink back to normal and there won’t be any vaginal discharge anymore. Your dog will start losing interest in mating.
Fourth and final stage is Anestrus. This is the stage where in there’s sexual or hormonal inactivity between estrus phases. It usually lasts for 3 months.
Dog in Heat Signs
Constant licking on their private area
Loss of appetite
Increase in temperature
Swollen mammary glands
Mounting behavior (humping)
What to Do When Dog is in Heat
Make her feel comfortable. Make sure to clean the potty area to decrease the chance of getting infections like Pyometra.
You might also want to walk your dog less and don’t let her go out alone in the yard or in the park. Avoid off-leash walks as well. You basically need to protect your dog from male dogs and unwanted pregnancy.
Different dogs react differently when in heat. What you need to do is observe your dog’s behavior and make sure you choose the right amount of rest and exercise.
Apply warm compress to the abdominal area if there’s suspected cramping. When bleeding stops, that’s the prime fertile time. If you don’t want her to get pregnant, make sure you isolate your dog from male dogs. Consider spaying your dog, again, if you don’t want her to get pregnant.
Give your dog extra attention. Physically and mentally, have that extra time for her. She will feel calmer if there’s someone for her during heat.
Benefits of Spaying Your Dog
Your dog will have a better attitude because of less hormonal imbalance. There’s also a lesser chance of having infections such as Pyometra and other diseases like ovarian, breast (mammary), and uterine cancer.
Spaying can also help you deal less with male dogs who can be wildly attracted to your dog in heat.
When a dog is in heat, the odor is unpleasant in her private area. Spaying eliminates this.
A dog in heat will most likely release bloody vaginal discharge which could get messy. To avoid this, consider spaying.
At the end of the day, dealing with dogs in heat differ in terms of size and breed. The methods mentioned above could work for others but might not work for your dog. If you are an owner of a female dog that is in heat, you need to be more patient. If you find the method that works, continue doing it. If you’re still unsure, seek the advice of your veterinarian.