Can an 11 year old dog be in heat? Get Your Pet Thinking

What exactly is a ‘season’ in dogs?

A season is what we call the time when a bitch is able to get pregnant (reproduce). An average season lasts approximately three weeks, during this time the vulva (outside part of the bitches vagina) becomes pink and swollen, there is often a bloody discharge for around 9 days, this is followed by ovulation (eggs being released from the ovaries). After this time, things start to settle back to normal.

Bitches usually have one to two seasons a year. During a season bitches give off pheromones, which attract entire male dogs from a long-distance away. Also at or near the time of ovulation the bitch may stand with her tail held up and to the side to allow herself to be mated. Some bitches can become aggressive during their season, others more clingy.

  • Anoestrous – not in season, around 6-8months
  • Proestrous – around 9 days, vulva swells, vaginal bleeding
  • Oestrous – around 9 days, usually stop bleeding allows mating
  • Dioestrous – around 2-3months, high levels of the hormone progesterone which can sometimes lead to false pregnancies
  • The above is just a simple example of an average season, there can be lots of variation in how a bitch behaves and shows its season and of the length of the individual parts of the season.

    When do seasons start and finish?

    Seasons usually start at around six months of age but can be as late as one year to eighteen months. It is often thought that small bitches usually start their seasons sooner than larger bitches of dog as they take longer to mature.

    As your bitch gets older it seems reasonable to assume that they will stop having seasons, in humans what we call the menopause. However in the case of bitches this does not happen; female dogs continue to have seasons for their entire lives and therefore could potentially get pregnant.

    Signs of a Dog in Heat

    There are behavioral clues and physical symptoms of a dog in heat, which can include:

  • swollen vulva and bloody vaginal discharge
  • increased moodiness, growling at humans or picking fights with other dogs in the household, especially other unspayed female dogs
  • decreased or increased interest in human interactions
  • increased interest in roaming or getting out of the yard (to look for male dogs to mate with)
  • 4 Stages of Dog Heat Cycle (may be graphic)

    From about six months old to through the rest of her life, a female dog will experience estrus, or heat, roughly every six months. This is the period of time when she’s receptive to mating.