How can you tell if your dog is in heat?
There are distinct signs of estrus, both physical and behavioral. She may urinate more than usual. There will also be a blood-tinged discharge and swollen vulva. She may seem nervous or distracted. She’ll be receptive to male dogs and may initiate sexual contact, including raising her rear towards male dogs and deflecting her tail to one side, which is called ‘flagging.’ During the middle stages of the cycle, a female dog will actively court males and this may continue until the cycle is over.
Keeping your pup away from unneutered male dogs is crucial if youre trying to prevent pregnancy, says Attas. McCarthy suggests avoiding dog parks, group training events, and other events involving other dogs while yours is in heat.
The first signs of heat appear during “proestrus,” when your dogs reproductive tract prepares for ovulation. During proestrus, male dogs may seem more attracted to your dog, but she likely wont be receptive to mating. Even if she does mate with a male dog, she cant become pregnant during this stage.
The length can vary based on your dogs breed, size, and age, but once your dog begins to have regular cycles, you can expect them to stay in heat for roughly the same amount of time.
Quick tip: Worried about unwanted messes in the house? McCarthy suggests having your dog wear a doggy diaper to contain any blood-tinged discharge. This can also help prevent your pup from spreading pheromones and attracting male dogs. Just note these diapers wont necessarily stop mating from happening.
Heat is sometimes referred to as a “dog period” because of the bloody vaginal discharge, but its important to note that dogs dont menstruate in the same way human females do. They do, however, have cycles during which they experience a surge and then decline in estrogen, and their ovaries release the eggs. Heat is the stage of this process when your dog ovulates.
How Often Will My Dog Go into Heat?
Dogs have an average of two heat cycles per year, roughly six months apart. Some females will have irregular cycles, especially if they are very young or very old. Small breeds may cycle three times per year, while giant breeds may only cycle once every 12 months. Unlike some other species, canine estrous cycles are not dependent on the seasons, sunlight, or temperature.
Female Dog Heat Cycles: How Often Do Female Dogs Go In Heat?
There comes a time in the life of an intact female dog when theyâre ready to breed. This period is called being in heat. The stage of heat, also called estrus or season, has distinct physical and behavioral signs.Â
Many of the estrus factors, such as frequency, length of time, and severity, are dependent on your dogâs age and breed. Your dog may have symptoms that are particular to them.Â
Keep a leash handy, because your dog may have to urinate more when sheâs in heat. You may also observe that her vulva is large, red, or swollen with some bleeding or blood-tinted discharge.Â
Your dog will only bleed for around half of the total cycle, usually 7 to 10 days. Generally, bigger dogs bleed more than smaller dogs, but it varies between dogs. Some dogs bleed very little. If your dog prides themselves on their appearance and grooms themselves regularly, you probably wont find much blood spotting around the house.Â
Even though your dog will bleed, she isnt in pain during heat. However, being in heat can make your dog uncomfortable and fidgety. If her symptoms seem to be causing her pain, consult your vet.Â
Smaller dogs can go into heat as soon as they are 4-months old. Larger breeds may not first go into heat until they are 18 to 24 months old. On average, the first heat begins at around 6 months of age.Â
Even though they are old enough to get pregnant, your young dogâs eggs arenât yet fully matured. Waiting until after the second estrus cycle will promote a healthy pregnancy.