Vet Blog

Dog in Heat a Guide for Paw Rents

July 13, 2023

What Do You Know About Dogs in Heat?

You understand the human reproductive cycle, but how much do you understand about the reproductive cycle of dogs? Female dogs have periods, just as humans do. However, a female canine’s period is known as heat, and dogs need a little bit of extra care when they’re on their periods. Understanding your dog’s cycle is important because it will help you to be a more responsible pet owner, preventing unwanted pregnancies and helping you take good care of your pet. Here, Pet Doctor of Chandler provides the information you need to know when your dog is in heat.

Understanding the Heat Cycle in Dogs

Female dogs typically go into heat about twice a year, but this varies between breeds. Larger dogs may only cycle once a year, while small dogs can come into heat as many as three times a year. The first heat happens when a dog reaches puberty, which is around 6 months for most breeds but can vary, Your dog may have irregular cycles at first, and it may take up to two years for them to become regular. When a female dog goes into heat, it generally lasts 21 days, though some can last up to 28 days. It’s wise not to let your female dog come into contact with male dogs for 35 days or so. A dog’s heat cycle, also called the Estrus cycle, is the process in which a female dog becomes receptive to mating. This cycle has four stages.

  1. Proestrus Stage: The first stage of the heat cycle lasts from 7 to 10 days, during which the vulva swells and the dog begins to bleed. This will attract male dogs, but the female will not be ready to mate.
  2. Estrus Stage: Lasting between 5 and 10 days, this is the stage during which the ovaries begin to release eggs for fertilization. Blood flow will lessen, and the dog will be ready to mate. One of the symptoms of a dog in heat is that she will begin urinating more, marking her territory to show her readiness to breed.
  3. Diestrus Stage: During this stage, which lasts 10 to 140 days, the dog is no longer fertile. The vulva will return to normal and vaginal discharge will disappear. Either your dog will be in resting mode, or she will be pregnant.
  4. Anestrus Stage: This stage is the longest, lasting from 100 to 150 days, and at the end of it, the cycle begins again.

It is very important to recognize the signs that indicate your dog’s stage in the heat cycle so that you can effectively manage your dog’s reproductive cycle.

Managing a Dog in Heat

You will know that your dog is heated because she will display changes both in her body and behavior. Her vulva will become swollen, and she will pass bloody discharge. She’ll urinate frequently, leaving small amounts of urine around the yard or while out for a walk. She is likely to lick her genitals excessively, to try and keep them clean. She will also be more receptive to male dogs, wagging her tail as a sign of openness and curling it to one side to encourage mating. When a dog in heat is aroused, she will mount, thrust, and hump, and may become hyperactive, trying to escape the backyard to find a mate. Your dog might also display personality changes, behaving in a way that is anxious or aggressive, or seeming too tired to play. Of course, some dogs are more affectionate when they’re in heat, while others seem to be in distress. It all depends on the dog. Because dogs do not experience menopause, dogs who are not spayed will continue to have cycles for the rest of their lives. There are certain steps you can take to manage your dog’s cycles, protect her from pregnancy, make her more comfortable, and keep her environment clean.

  • First, supervise her at all times. Female dogs in heat will seek out a mate, and male dogs will be attracted to them. Even if you think she’s safe in your yard, your dog could break out or a male could break in, resulting in an unwanted pregnancy.
  • Walk your dog on a leash. Even if your dog is trained to stay right beside you on walks, being in heat will cause her to be influenced by her hormones. Keep her on a leash to protect her from her instincts.
  • Let her rest or exercise, depending on her needs. Some dogs in heat are lethargic and don’t want to do anything, while others may be restless and aggressive. Pay attention to your dog so that you can create a plan of rest and exercise that will work for her and keep her comfortable.
  • Use doggy diapers. This can help you avoid a mess, and it can also be useful in preventing your dog from marking or leaving scents to attract male dogs. Your dog is also less likely to obsessively lick if she is wearing a diaper.
  • Give her plenty of loving care. Give your girl extra attention and treats, snuggle her, brush her, and just generally help her to feel calmer.
  • Ask your vet for advice. Being in heat is not an illness, but your vet can advise you if anything happens that you didn’t anticipate.

Pet Care during a Dog’s Heat Cycle

To further care for your pet while she’s in heat, make sure she has a nutritious and balanced diet. Provide her with plenty of fresh water and comfortable places to rest, and keep her environment calm and stress-free so that she won’t feel anxious. Groom her regularly, and pay close attention to her to make sure she’s not displaying signs of health issues. For example, sometimes, the swelling a dog experiences can be extreme and painful, and a dog with white discharge during heat may have an infection.

When in Doubt, Ask for Guidance

Having a dog in heat can be confusing and stressful, but educating yourself and being proactive about caring for your dog can help. If you are not sure what to do, don’t hesitate to ask your vet for guidance. Whenever you need help guidance as a pet owner, Pet Doctor of Chandler is here for you. At Pet Doctor of Chandler, we believe in providing quality veterinary care, with all-inclusive pet care services at affordable prices. We know you have many different options for veterinary care, so we provide comprehensive services, with a focus on compassionate care. Our friendly team is well-versed in all sorts of pet care, and we want to help your furry family members live their best lives. For veterinary services in Chandler, AZ, including spay and neuter services and dental care. To request an appointment or learn more about how we can help your pets lead healthy, happy lives, call (480) 681-6866 or contact us through our website.