A dog in heat refers to a female dog that is fertile and ready to mate. It’s a stage in your dog’s reproductive cycle when she’s ovulating, so she’s open to potential mates. Most female dogs begin to display heat signs when they are six months old, though it varies significantly across breeds. Some may even start showing signs of heat at 2.5 years old.
Nevertheless, dogs have heat every 6-7 months. During this time, there is a considerable possibility your dog can get pregnant. Therefore, you may need to take action to prevent an unwanted dog pregnancy.
Here is everything you need to know about dogs in heat.
The first indicator that your dog is coming into heat is vaginal bleeding, but it’s not the only sign. While some dogs may experience heavy bleeding, others bleed lightly that it’s even barely noticeable. Most dogs bleed for approximately a week or ten days. The following are some common signs you should expect from a dog in heat.
Female dogs may mount, thrust or hump when in heat. This is one of the most obvious signs that she is ready to mate. She humps other dogs regardless of whether they are male or female. She may also hump any objects she mistakes for a dog.
A female dog in heat may become more friendly around male dogs than usual. She will likely be more receptive to male dogs, who will in turn show increased interest in her. A good example is when she allows male dogs to sniff and lick her vulva, a behavior she never usually tolerates. She may also stand or move her tail to one side when touched, a sign she is ready for mating.
A female dog licking her lady parts excessively indicates she may be on heat, especially if she’s unspayed. She will lick herself in response to the swollen vulva and bloody discharge she is experiencing at that particular time. You may consider using dog wipes or a heat diaper if the discharge is making a mess. Try using an Earthbath Tushy Pet Wipes or Unicharm Pet Diaper since it offers your dog comfort and keeps her from feeling rigid and stuffy.
A large, red, and swollen vulva is a clear indication that your female dog is in heat. This is often accompanied by bleeding or blood-tinged discharge. They usually go back to normal after the heat cycle.
When ready for breeding, a female dog in heat may become anxious or agitated. Some dogs may appear sadder, while others are constantly nervous. In some cases, female dogs in heat become more aggressive than usual, so they should receive special attention for such behavior. She may also display nesting behaviors in preparation for pregnancy.
A dog may also become hyperactive when in heat. She may wail uncontrollably or try to escape from the backyard. Such dogs require a bit of extra supervision and care.
A female dog in heat:
The canine estrous cycle has four phases:
This stage lasts between 3 and 17 days, but many dogs take around nine days in proestrus. The female is not fertile during the proestrus but is usually anxious and may try to escape from home. Her vulva begins to swell, and she also starts to bleed. She may attract males but is not yet ready for mating.
This is the mating phase of your dog’s reproductive cycle. It lasts about 5 to 10 days. This is when your dog is fertile, and her ovaries begin to release eggs for fertilization. Bleeding may reduce or even stop at this stage.
The dog is no longer fertile at this point. The duration of the diestrus phase depends on whether fertilization has taken place or not. It may last anywhere from 10 to 140 days. The female will reject any mounting and tend to eat abundantly. She could either be pregnant or may exhibit psychological pregnancy.
Females who become pregnant go to the next period of sexual inactivity (anestrus) after childbirth. This phase may last about 130 days, allowing her body to prepare for next heat.
Suppose your dog shows anxiety, hyperactivity, sadness, or a slight loss of appetite. In that case, you can follow the following recommendations to try and improve her mood and protect her from unwanted pregnancy.
Never let your dog off her leash when in heat, even if you consider her well trained. Her hormones and intent on finding a female may affect her excellent obedient skills and recall ability.
Don’t neglect your dog’s physical and mental stimulation when she is in heat. You can exercise her in your home if she’s not spayed. Propose activities and games using interactive toys like Kong Classic Wobbler to keep your dog mentally stimulated.
Offer your dog a more attractive meal, especially if she suffers from a slight loss of appetite. Oats are very effective in reducing levels of stress and anxiety in dogs. So, you can try Absolute Holistic Vegan Diet with Oats & Peas Dog Dry Food along with Stella Chewys Cage-Free Chicken Broth Topper Wet Dog Food to improve its aroma.
Do not underestimate a female’s dog drive to find a male to mate. You may consider using a leash or even accompanying your female dog in heat whenever she wants to play in the yard. Male dogs may also sniff the pheromones from far away. It’s not a surprise to you to walk outside and find a male dog mating with your female.
The unthinkable may happen, and your female dog may escape the yard. At this point, it’s good to have an updated GPS tracker just in case your dog runs away searching for a mate. That way, you will quickly and easily find her.
It’s good to seek advice from a vet, even though being in heat is not an illness. Your vet may give you some recommendations to prevent the occurrence of unexpected trouble. Some female dogs may also experience infections after a heat cycle. Usually, the uterine lining remains thickened and continues to produce more fluid, creating a favorable environment for bacterial growth.
Spaying is when your female dog’s ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus are removed. Spay your dog after her heat cycle if you don’t have any plans to breed her. Your vet can advise you on the appropriate age to spay your female dog.