Dog in Heat

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What to Do When Your Dog is in Heat

By Anna Lynn Sibal

One of the common problems that dog owners have is when their dog is in heat. Dog owners often report erratic behavior displayed by their dogs, stains on the furniture, and others.

But how can you know whether your dog is in heat? And if she is in heat, how are you supposed to deal with it?

The Four Cycles of Dog Heat in Female Dogs

The heat cycle is the period of sexual receptivity in un-spayed female dogs. It is also called the estrus cycle. The age by which your dog will start getting in heat as well as the duration of her heat cycle varies, depending on her size and breed.

Usually, the heat cycle would occur in dogs aged six to 12 months. For smaller breeds, it may be as early as five months. On the other hand, for large and giant breeds, the cycle may not happen until the dog is 14 months, or sometimes even later.

There are four stages to the dog's estrus cycle.

1. Proestrus. Proestrus, the first stage, usually lasts four to 20 days. This is the time when your dog would be menstruating, and her secretions would be bright red. She would be shy around other dogs, and would often tuck her tail around her swollen vulva. Your dog would probably show a lack of appetite as well.

2. Estrus. The estrus is the stage where your dog would be more receptive to males and allow them to mate with her. She would show this by flirting with other dogs. Her secretions would also turn a lighter color. This stage of the heat cycle lasts from five to 13 days.

3. Diestrus. At this point, your dog would gradually stop discharging menstrual fluid and would also stop being flirtatious around male dogs. If she had mated successfully and gets pregnant, her pregnancy would last around 60 to 64 days.

4. Anestrus. This is the time when your dog ends her heat cycle. This would last around five to eleven months.

How to Tell If Your Dog is in Heat

Sometimes, it is quite hard to figure out if your dog is in heat. Some of the signs to watch out for when your dog is in heat are mentioned above, but here is a summary of signs displayed by dogs in heat.

  • Increased urination
  • Swelling vulva, although this may not be noticeable in some dog breeds
  • Menstrual bleeding, bright red in the early stages, lightens in color during the estrus stage, and will disappear afterwards

The one sure sign that your dog is in heat is if male dogs begin to circle her and follow her around all the time. Male dogs can detect a female dog in heat excellently. While the scent cannot be detected by humans, male dogs can tell from far, far away that there is a female dog in the area that is ready to be bred.

How to Care for Dogs in Heat

If you have seen that your dog is in heat, what should you do? Your dog being in heat would not really be a problem if you handle it properly. One thing that you should know is that you should not let her go out of the house alone, or else the male dogs would be all over her. Female dogs in heat release a hormone that is highly attractive to male dogs.

When your dog is in heat, walk her on a leash whenever she needs to. But before you go out, rub some menthol on the tip of her tail to mask her scent. Do not let her out of your sight when you are both out of doors.

Inside the house, cleaning her discharge may be a bothersome task. You can deal with this by giving your dog some space where the potential mess she will create will not be that much of a concern. This spot can serve as her birthing place when she does get pregnant. But if you really do not want to deal with cleaning up after her, buy her doggy panties.

Dogs in heat also tend to become excitable and anxious. This is the time when you should give her some bit of extra time. To sooth her wracked nerves, brush her coat or play some soothing music. Also, do not let the kids in your home play around her to avoid irritating her.

You do not have to treat your dog's going into heat as a problem. The proper care and the proper precautionary measures will help see both you and your dog through this delicate time.


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