Apart from knowing for how long does a dog stay in heat, a dog owner must also know other important things related to a dog in heat.
Although it is not a disease, it is definitely a potential danger to the wellbeing of your loyal buddy if it is not nursed adequately for reasons discussed below.
What is dogs going into heat?
There is a stage in a female dog’s reproductive cycle during which she gets inclined to mate with males and this period is called ‘Estrus’ or in layman’s term, ‘heat’. At this point in time, hormonal changes occur as the estrogen level first increases and then slides downhill sharply. Generally, dogs go into heat when they are about six months old but this can vary among the different breeds. While they are likely to happen to the smaller breeds when they are around four months old, it could take eighteen to twenty-four months for the giant breeds.
How Long Does A Dog Stay In Heat?
Estrus, generally, lasts for around three to four weeks. It is during this first half of the aforementioned period that you will notice bleeding. Unlike human beings, female dogs experience estrus throughout their lives with each cycle generally occurring after a gap of six months. With aging, however, the interval between the cycles gets longer.
What are its signs?
A female dog in heat showcases a lot of symptoms when she is in heat. She urinates more often than she generally does, becomes receptive and attentive to male dogs, and raises her leg in an unusual manner while she urinates. She may initiate sexual signs of communicating her signal when she sees a male dog, which includes moving her tail to one side and stretching her rear legs. Besides, she is seemingly likely to become more affectionate, get distracted easily, and may also appear to be nervous.
Her vulva gets swollen and there is bloody or straw-colored discharge from it. Her vagina starts to bleed and further, she licks her genital area excessively. Fortunately, the blood that comes out is not much and the bleeding is generally seen for the first couple of weeks. The canine estrus cycles are not reliant on temperature, seasons, or the amount of sunlight it gets. It is when her vulva returns to the normal size and the bleeding stops that you will realize that her cycle is done and dusted.
How often do dogs go into heat?
With an interval of approximately six months, generally, a female dog goes into heat twice a year. However, the larger breeds may go into heat for once in a year whereas the small breeds may undergo this cycle for as many as three times within a period of twelve months. It is a lifelong process for a female dog and continues right until the end.
What problems it might cause to male dogs?
During the aforesaid period, a female dog releases a pheromone called Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate. When a male counterpart gets its smell, it arouses them and turns them desperate to mate. They become aggressive and get obsessed with over tracking down the female dog in heat throughout the entire period of her estrus. In fact, they even stop eating and lose focus of whatever goes around them.
It is important for you to take measures to distract your male dog if he is in the vicinity of a female canine in heat to avoid unwanted breeding. Ensure that your male dog exercises regularly and keeps on performing random activities so that he remains distracted from her. If both of them are living in the same house, sending one of them to stay with a friend or relative of yours could be a useful alternative. Neutering them is also an option but do talk about it with your veterinarian about it.
Why spaying is necessary?
It is highly recommended to consult your veterinarian before spaying your dog. In common parlance, spaying her before her first heat cycle (when she is around two to four months old) is the best if you do not intent on breeding. Spaying is necessary not only to prevent unwanted pregnancy of your female dog but to also keep her safe from breast cancer and various reproductive diseases. Further, it is also seen that the female dogs that are spayed early in their lives have lesser chances of suffering from mammary gland tumors.
What to do when your dog is in the heat?
A female dog in heat is required to be taken care of with a lot of understanding, love, and caution. In worst case situations, they can cause disastrous consequences as she might even run away from home, suffer from reproductive diseases, or even end up having an unwanted puppy.
- Use a leash: During the estrus cycle, your dog shows signs of disobedience as her actions are influenced by hormonal changes and that is why it is essential to not let her off her leash.
- Do not let her roam outside on her own: As male dogs are attracted by pheromones emitted by female dogs during the estrus cycle, do not let her roam alone to avoid unwanted breeding.
- Use ID tags: We are well aware of the fact that prevention is better than cure. Make sure that your dog’s ID tag and contact information are correct and up to date as it might be beneficial in case she finds an exit route out of desperation.
- Keep a record: Making a note of her estrus cycle could be useful as it will allow you to track it, prepare yourself, and be mentally ready to be up for the challenges.
- The right balance of exercise and rest: There is a contrast in the behaviors of different dogs during the estrus cycle. While some seem to be restless, others tend to be lazy and tired all day. It is important to strike a harmony between her rest and exercises to keep her dog comfortable during the uneasy period.
- Use GPS tracker: Technology can come handy in cases where your female dog sneaks out of your yard to mate. A GPS tracker will assist you in finding where she is so that you can retrieve her back before things go wrong.
- Keeping her at the right place: While she obviously cannot be allowed to venture outside on her own during this period, keeping her indoors might also be inconvenient as she will discharge blood, emit a foul smell and cause a mess. Therefore, it is better to keep her confined to an area inside your house which can easily be cleaned up.
- Fetch some appealing food items: Your pet is expected to be reluctant to eat during this stage and feeding her appealing food items could help. Give her tasty pieces of meat, delicious fruits (within advisable limit), and water to keep her in the right shape.
- Use dog heat pants: Special dog heat pants are readily available in the market, and besides, they can be made at home as well. However, your dog is expected to take some time to adjust to it.
- Consult your veterinarian regularly: Taking advice from the expert can only do well to your loyal friend. It is advisable to visit a veterinarian for a consultation to avoid unwanted troubles.
Estrus is a complex process with hormonal, behavioral, and physical changes, with different breeds of dogs behaving differently to it. It might seem like a cause of concern that is required to be dealt with properly but by taking preventive measures and necessary steps, you and your pet can sail past it smoothly.
While we have given a brief idea of what it really is how to deal with it, taking suggestions and having interactions with your veterinarian should definitely help you in enlightening yourself further.