What are the signs of estrus in dogs?
Vulvar swelling is the first physical indication of an impending estrus cycle. However, the most obvious recognizable sign is vaginal bleeding. This may not become apparent until a few days after the female has come into estrus. Some female dogs experience heavy vaginal bleeding during estrus, while other dogs have minimal bleeding. If you are concerned about your dog, consult your veterinarian.
From the beginning of a female’s estrus period, she will be attractive to male dogs, though she will usually not be receptive or allow mating until seven to ten days into her cycle. As the cycle progresses, the color and appearance of the discharge change. In the beginning, it is usually quite bloody and thick in appearance, then gradually changes to a watery, blood-tinged discharge. The receptive period for mating usually corresponds to this change in the appearance of the discharge.
You may also find your female dog is passing small quantities of urine more frequently. The urine contains pheromones and hormones, both of which signal interested males that she will be receptive soon.
How Often Do Female Dogs Come Into Heat?
On average this occurs about twice a year or every six months, although it varies from dog to dog. When cycling first begins, there may be a great deal of variability in the time between cycles. This is normal. Some females take eighteen months to two years to develop a regular cycle.
There is no evidence that irregular heat cycles predispose the dog to false pregnancies or pyometra (uterine infection). Small breeds tend to cycle more regularly than the larger breeds. Three and occasionally four heat cycles per year can be normal in some females.
Very large breeds may only have a “heat” cycle once every 12-18 months. In most giant breeds (Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, St Bernards, etc.) an oestrus cycle every twelve months is common.
What Can You Do To Ensure Mating Is Successful?
Surprisingly, male dogs appear to be more stress sensitive than females during mating. Successful matings are more common when the male dog is in its own environment. For this reason, females are usually taken to the male dogs home for breeding.
The time of mating is extremely critical and it is highly recommended that you have tested your female to determine the optimal days for breeding. For most females, the best time for breeding is between the tenth and fourteenth day of oestrus. However, some females ovulate as early as the third or fourth day or as late as the eighteenth day. Blood tests will assist in determining the best period for your dog.
It is normal to arrange for two matings for your dog, often twenty-four or forty-eight hours apart. Check these details with the owner of the stud when making initial enquiries. Also, inquire as to the procedure if your female dog does not become pregnant as a result of the stud service. It is common for owners of the male dog to offer a free service next time.
When to breed your dog when they are in heat
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. Hormonal changes will cause pronounced differences in your dog that will indicate she’s in heat, including a swollen vulva, bleeding, more frequent urination and increased nervousness or alertness. She’ll also present herself to male dogs by raising her rump and holding her tail off to the side.
Dogs can go into heat as young as four months in smaller breeds, but averages about six months old. Some giant breeds may not go into their first heat until they’re 18-24 months old. It is strongly advised not to breed young female dogs during their first and second cycle. Their eggs are not yet mature and the dog hasn’t reached full maturity. If you’re planning on breeding your dog, your vet will be able to tell you when the dog is mature enough to be bred.
Heat usually lasts between 2-4 weeks. Early in the cycle, a female dog may not be receptive to male dogs, although some are receptive through the entire cycle. It can be shorter or longer and you’ll know the cycle is over when all her vulva returns to its normal size and there’s no more bleeding or discharge. There’s a relatively small window when your dog is most fertile during the heat cycle; it may begin about nine or ten days after she goes into heat and lasts about five days. However, she can become pregnant until the end of the cycle.
Once estrus begins, it may take awhile for the cycle to become regular. Some dogs can take up to eighteen months until their cycle becomes regular. It’s a good idea to keep a record during these early days. Once it does, the average is about every six months. Smaller breeds may go into heat more frequently, as often as 3-4 times a year. Larger dogs, like Irish Wolfhounds, St. Bernards and Great Danes may only go into heat every 12-18 months. Unlike humans, female dogs experience estrus throughout their lives, although the time between cycles will get longer.
With the exception of breeders of purebreds, most pet owners elect to spay their female dogs before the first heat. Some experts believe this reduces the risk of mammary cancer and other conditions. It also eliminates the possibility of unwanted litters. https://www.akc.org/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php Get Your Free AKC eBook
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