Heat in female dogs is considered to be equivalent to menstruation experienced in human beings. This is said to be the most fertile period in dogs during which reproduction can occur if the female dog has intercourse. Though it is a known fact that female dogs do experience heat, not many people know about its symptoms. Apart from the symptoms, owners should also know about the correct method of handling their dogs as this is a very crucial period.
Dog Heat Cycle
The heat cycle, which is also known as the canine estrous cycle, starts when the dog is six months old. However, some dogs may begin earlier, while for some it may start only when they are 12-14 months old. A doubt that is most commonly raised by people is the duration of the heat cycle. The answer will not be the same for every dog. Though usually 21 days or three weeks is average, it can actually range from anywhere between 8-30 days. Most female dogs have to experience the heat cycle at least two times in a year or once in every seven months. It is divided into four stages starting from the proestrus, followed by the estrus, diestrus, and ending with the anestrus.
Signs of Dog Being in Heat
This is the first stage. One of the first heat symptoms you will observe is the swelling of the vulva. You may also notice bleeding during this time, however, it will not be similar to menstrual bleeding. Usually, bleeding is said to be heavier in larger dogs and lighter in smaller dogs. Bleeding is accompanied by frequent urination too. Apart from these, the most common sign that the heat cycle has started in your pet dog is that unneutered male dogs begin to get attracted to her, and it is natural to find male dogs near your house during this time. This happens because of the presence of pheromones in the urine and bleeding of the female which attracts the males. However, during this stage which goes for 7-10 days, the female dog may not allow male dogs to mount her.
After the proestrus stage comes the second stage which is called estrus. This is the period of ovulation and the first sign of this stage is the occurrence of a pinkish discharge from the vulva. The swelling of the vulva may decrease slightly and your dog may welcome any male to mate with her. She may also show flirtatious signs like flagging her tail in front of male dogs to invite them for intercourse. As the female dog releases at least twenty eggs during one heat cycle, the chances of conception and pregnancy are the highest during this time.
After 5-7 days of the estrus stage comes the diestrus stage, which is said to be the last few days of the cycle. Though the swelling may not disappear completely, your canine may not bleed anymore. She may become less interested in mating and may not invite any male dogs at this stage. After the heat cycle is completely stopped, the dog may not experience another one for several months. The period between two cycles is called the anestrus stage. During the period, the canine's body prepares itself for the next cycle.
Tips for Looking After a Canine in Heat
As the chances of conception and pregnancy are the highest during the heat cycle, extra care should be taken, especially if you are not planning to breed the dog. Though the cycle begins at as early as six months of age, if you are interested in breeding your dog, it is best to wait till she turns two years of age. As your dog will attract males, you have to be really careful and it will be a good idea to confine your pet indoors. This is because even a well-behaved and trained female dog can invite any dog to mount her during this time, which can lead to an unwanted litter. Also, if she mates a street dog, there are chances of her producing puppies with serious health disorders. Hence, make sure that she is not let outside the house without someone accompanying her. Also, at home, you should see to it that she is protected by proper fencing. If you are not planning to breed her at all, the best thing is to spay her at an early stage. In such a case, you do not have to worry too much about protecting her from male dogs. Moreover, it is also said that spayed female dogs remain healthy as they are less likely to have health problems or diseases like mammary tumors, cancer, etc.
Knowing about the signs of a dog's heat cycle and what you should do when it occurs will help you to protect your pet from unwanted litters and also help in preventing the occurrence of major health problems.