Is your dog in heat or getting ready to go into heat? A female dog’s reproductive cycle, during which she can become pregnant when mating with males is called her Estrus or heat cycle.
Callie, my 9 1/2-month-old Labrador Retriever, just went into heat. During this time her estrogen levels increase and then decrease while mature eggs are being released from her ovaries. It means she has entered her most fertile part of a dog’s reproductive cycle.
What are the signs that your dog is going into heat?
A change in my dog’s behavior was the first sign that my dog had gone into heat. Suddenly she would not allow any dogs to sniff her bottom without growling. Normally a sweet, playful girl, I wound up having to keep her away from other dogs.
Within days her vulva and breasts swelled, and I noticed a few droplets of blood. She’d definitely gone into heat and I needed to be careful.
The general signs of dog going into heat are:
1. Your dog’s vulva will look swollen or larger than normal.
2. She may urinate more often along with having a bloody vaginal discharge.
3. Your dog’s sunny disposition may change to being nervous and on edge.
4. Like my dog, she will not allow a dog to breed with her and may growl at other dogs.
5. She may eat skip a meal here and there or eat less than her normal amount.
What happens when a dog goes into heat?
You can expect your dog to go into heat every 6 months. Once she does, you’ll want to mark it on the calendar so you’ll know when to expect the next heat cycle.
There are 3 distinct stages when our dog goes into heat.
First Stage - The first stage of any dogs heat is called the Proestrus. There are distinct signs when your dog has entered its first stages:
1. During this time your dogs vulva will look swollen or larger than normal.
2. A bloody vaginal discharge may accompany the swelling.
3. Your dog may become on edge or even jumpy at the slightest noise.
4. In the beginning stages she will hold her tail close to her body and growl if a dog comes near her back end.
5. Your dog will become clingy. My dog, Callie, is constantly at my feet when she’s in the beginning stages of her heat cycle.
6. Some female dogs may have a bout of diarrhea during their heat cycles.
Second Stage - The second stage of a dogs heat is called, Estrus.
This is the stage where your dog becomes ready to breed.
If you don’t want to breed your dog during this stage, you’ll want to keep a close eye on her.
Even in the backyard, dogs have been known to dig out to get to a male. Or male dogs to dig under the fence to get to your dog.
1. Her vaginal discharge changes from bloody to a brownish discharge.
2. Your dog may begin “flagging” which is moving her tail to the side to make herself available to a male dog.
3. Male dogs will be interested in your dog and possibly begin fighting over her.
4. Other female dogs may become aggressive towards your dog, and she may become aggressive back.
Third and Final Stage - The last stage of a dogs heat is called, Diestrus. Luckily during this stage your dog will not be interested in mating any longer.
1. Your dogs vaginal discharge will go away.
2. Her vulva will shrink back down to normal size.
3. She may behave as if she’s pregnant, but she really isn’t. Unless a male dogs gotten to her.
How long does a dog in heat bleed?
A dogs heat cycle can last anywhere from 2-4 weeks. I have found that most of my dogs take a full 4 weeks from beginning to end of the heat cycle.
It can be longer or shorter, but you’ll know when the heat cycle is over when her vulva returns to normal size and there is no more bleeding or discharge.
What do I do when my female dog is in heat?
There are some simple things you can do when your dog is in heat.
1. Never leave your dog outside alone when she is in heat. Your dog can dig a hole under a fence to get to a male dog. Or a male dog can dig under a fence to get to her.
2. A female dog in heat should always be supervised.
3. A dog in heat is not the time to socialize your pet with other dogs, male or females.
4. Understand that your dog will become clingy. Mine followed me everywhere in the house, including the bathroom during her heat!
5. Give her a space that’s comfortable and away from other dogs.
6. Provide lots of water and don’t panic if she misses a meal. She’ll be back to her normal eating pattern once her heat is over.
What supplies do I need for a dog in heat?
Having a dog in heat for a month can be a messy time. Your female dog will bleed.
A dog in heats bloody discharge can stain bedding, carpets, and furniture. Fortunately, you can help control this by using diapers for your dog until the bleeding has stopped.
Here’s a list of supplies to have on hand for a dog in heat:
1. Dog diapers
How to calm a dog in heat?
All those hormones during a dog’s heat can cause mood swings for the calmest and nicest of dogs.
Chances are your dog is scared, confused or has become anxious.
Female dogs can cry or even whine during heat because of the hormones and feelings being released during the heat cycle. Even the sweetest of dogs can become aggressive during a heat cycle.
Here’s some easy tips on helping your dog stay calm during her heat cycle:
1. Provide the emotional support and attention she’ll be looking for from you.
2. Sit down with her and give her extra petting time, butt scratches and play time.
3. Talk to her in a gentle voice, reassuring her, it’s going to be okay.
4. Never let your dog outside without a leash.
5. Avoid all dog parks or places where she can run into a male dog. Remember male dogs can smell a female dog in heat for miles away.
6. Be patient with her, even the best trained dog may not want to listen while in heat.
7. Try to take more frequent walks, but change her routine. The best time to go is early in the morning or evenings, when there is less chance of running into another dog.
Even if you can only take a quick stroll around your neighborhood, it will help your dog to feel calmer getting out.
8. Provide plenty of exercise by running or playing in the backyard.
9. Keep her entertained with toys and treats.
10. Keep her clean by changing her diapers and even bathing her once or twice a day.
11. Some dogs may develop about of diarrhea during her heat. Be prepared to rush off that diaper or have to leave it off if she developes diarrhea.
12. Make a spot for her to be calm and have a safe place to rest.
Is my dog in pain when in heat?
There isn’t pain when a dog is in heat. They can have cramping, just like a human. However, different dogs can react differently when they are in heat.
Some dogs may become more tired or restless during the day.
Some may eat more or even skip a meal when in heat.
Talk to your veterinarian about giving her something to help keep her calm during her heat.
Dealing with a dog in heat for the first time is a daunting task. It’s a confusing time for your puppy. It can be a busy time and exhausting time for you.
All dogs are different, but if you can understand what your dog is going through and be prepared it will make the 2-4 weeks your dog is in heat go by smoothly for both you and your dog.