Dog in Heat: A guide for paw-rents

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Dog in Heat

Back in school, can you remember being taught about the human reproductive cycle? Being humans, we can easily understand the biological process of reproduction, but understanding a dog period cycle can be quite challenging. 

The first question that popped into your mind might be, do female dogs have periods? Just like us, female canines also have periods which is known as heat in the paws world. When a female dog is on her periods, a pawrent usually panics. Your female dog needs a little extra care and attention when she is in on her periods. Being aware of the signs of heat in a dog is very important, and thus in this blog, we will explain everything you need to know and do when your pup is in heat.

What does a dog in heat means?

Dog in heat simply means a female dog in periods. A dog will experience heat once she reaches puberty and sexual maturity. It is the stage when the female dog is ovulating and open to potential mates. It is quite different from human menstrual cycles. Most paw-rents think a dog is fertile only when she bleeds, but that's not true. A female dog can still be fertile for some days once the bleeding has passed. 

Dog in heat

When do dogs go into heat?

Your dog will first have her heat when she reaches puberty, the time when they become sexually active and their bodies are developed enough to reproduce. 

 Most dogs reach puberty when they are around 6 months old, but it can vary according to the breed. Small dogs might achieve their first cycles earlier than compared to larger breeds. Giant or large dogs might not have their first-period cycle until they are 18-20 months old. 

 Usually, a dog can go into heat any time of the year, but there are a few breeds that go in heat only in particular seasons. Basenjis, Tibetan Mastiffs, and sled dogs such as Malamutes often go into heat once a year, typically in the spring season. Interestingly, research indicates that when it rains, free-ranging dogs in India appear to mate.

How do I know my dog is in heat?

Knowing your dog is in heat is the first step towards making things easy and comfortable for your furry baby. Dogs show both body and behaviour changes while they are on their periods. The signs of the dog period may include;

Dog in Heat

 1) Swelling

When a canine is in heat, her vulva becomes swollen. During the menstrual cycle in dogs, the hormone oestrogen is produced, causing the tissues near the vulva to grow. This results in swelling of the vulva.

Dog in heat

2) Bloody discharge

It is the most common sign for dogs in heat. Blood discharge can vary in volume from dog to dog and between two cycles. The discharge your dog passes might get changed in colour as the cycle progresses. Initially, it might be blood red, and as time passes, it can become pinkish red. 

Heat in Dogs

3) Marking and frequent trips to the bathroom

You might notice your dog taking a trip to urinate quite often. You may also notice your dog leaving small amounts of urine while on a walk or in the yard. This is very normal as leaving such marks indicates to other dogs that she is fertile. 

 

Behaviour changes in female dogs in heat

Just like humans have mood swings, even our pups have changes in their behaviour when in heat. Not just physical, but behaviour changes are important to identify while your pup is having her menstrual days. A few behaviour changes you can look for are;

Dog in Heat

1) Licking

You will find your fur baby licking her private parts quite excessively when she is in heat. This is just a way to keep her private parts clean. If your dog makes a mess, you might consider buying dog diapers. 

Dog in heat

2) Male friendly

Another big clue to note is that dogs in heat start to become more attractive and receptive to male dogs. She will likely show more interest and will try to attract male dogs to herself. Excessive tail wagging is also a sign of openness towards dogs. 

3) Change in posture and tail position

A female dog's tail will curl to one side when she goes into heat to encourage mating. This activity is known as "flagging''. Your dog might make a suggestive posture to invite male dogs. 

Dog in Heat

4) Mounting and humping

One of the most obvious signs of a dog in heat is when a female dog is aroused, she will mount, thrust, or hump. Your dog might also become hyperactive, running out from the backyard to find a mate. 

 

5) Anxiety, agitation and lethargic

During heat, a female dog might become anxious or aggressive. You might also notice your dog panting or pacing excessively and seems tired or does not like to play. Some dogs feel less energetic during their periods. 

These are just possible signs of a dog in heat. Other signs might include increased affection, distress, or sleeping more than usual.  

Dog in heat

Stages of the dog period

The Estrus cycle, or a dog's heat cycle, is a biological process where a female dog becomes receptive to mating. To better comprehend the signs of dogs in mating, let's understand the 4 stages of the estrus cycle. 

1) Proestrus Stage

This is the first stage of a dog's heat cycle which may last anywhere from 7 to 10 days. During this time, the vulva begins to swell and your dog starts to bleed. She will start attracting male dogs but won’t be ready to mate. 

2) Estrus Stage

The estrus stage usually lasts between 5 to 10 days. This is the time when ovaries start to release eggs for fertilisation. The blood flow will lessen during this stage, and now your dog is ready to mate. You will notice your dog urinating more and leaving marks to indicate her readiness to breed. 

3) Diestrus Stage

This stage can last anywhere from 10 to 140 days, and now the dog is no longer fertile. The female dog's vulva will return to normal, and vaginal discharge will disappear. Your dog will be either pregnant during this stage or will be in resting mode.

4) Anestrus Stage

This is the longest phase of a dog's heat cycle, lasting from 100-150 days. At the end of this stage, the entire heat cycle starts again.

How long does a dog stay in heat?

A female dog's heat can last up to three weeks, or 21 days, depending on her age. Some female canine periods may last up to  28 days. However, the rule of thumb is to make sure that our doggies don't come in contact with male dogs for at least 35 days.

How often do dogs go into heat?

Most pooches have heat twice a year or about every six months, but the interval might vary from breed to breed. Small dogs may come into heat three times a year, whereas giant breeds might cycle once every 12 months. In the beginning, your pooch's cycle may be irregular. So, there's no need to panic. It may take up to two years for a dog to have regular cycles. 

Do dogs go through menopause? 

No, dogs don't go through menopause. Dogs not spayed will continue to bleed once or twice a year for the rest of their lives until they become pregnant or desexed.

How to handle a female dog in heat?

If your pup is in heat, she will need extra care and attention. Just like humans go through mood swings while on the menstrual cycle, a dog's hormones get active as well. Here are a few things you can do while your dog is in heat. 

Dog in Heat

1) Don't leave your dog unsupervised

A female dog in heat attracts a male dog, and leaving her alone in the yard or on a walk might bring you an unwanted pregnancy. Accompany your dog whenever she goes outside the house. You may even use a leash. 

Dog in heat

2) Walk your dog with a leash

Your dog might be trained and be obedient on usual days, but while in heat, she is likely to be influenced by her hormones. She will follow her instincts to attract male dogs for mating. 

3) Exercise and rest

Every dog behaves differently while on heat. Some may feel tired all day and show unwillingness to do anything, whereas some may be restless and a bit aggressive due to sexual hormones acting up. Study the behaviour of your pup and decide on the best plan of rest and exercise to keep your dog comfortable. 

Dog in Heat

4) Consult a Veterinarian

If you are completely new to your dog's heat, it is better to consult a vet. Although being in heat is not a disease, talking to your veterinarian about precautions may be helpful if an unanticipated issue arises.

5) Menthol to hide the scent

Using menthol while taking your dog for a walk can be a useful tip to hide her scent. It may come in handy so that a male dog does not get attracted to your pooch. 

How to care for your dog in heat?

A canine's heat cycle consists of various stages. A vet may provide medical treatment and guidance, but we are here to provide tips to make your furry friend comfortable at home. You can make slight changes in your house and your pet's routine to keep her calm and comfortable. 

Dog in heat

1) Use a diaper

Using dog diapers can help you avoid the mess your dog creates while in heat. It will also help prevent your dog from leaving marks or smells to attract male dogs. You will find some female dogs keeping themselves meticulously clean. If that's the case, the diaper won't be necessary. 

2) Extra love and care

We know you love your pawsome friend a lot, but your baby needs a little more love and care during her heat cycle. Make sure to give her extra attention, spend time petting her, snuggle and cuddle her and brush her more often to make her feel calmer. 

Dog in heat

3) Use calming treats and sounds 

Using high-pitched sounds may make your dog irritated and frustrated. There are special dog care treats to calm anxious and stressed dogs. You can go for dehydrated dog treats like Pawsindia Organics Raw Bites which are made of a single ingredient and do not contain any salt, sugar, seasonings, or preservatives to ensure that your dog gets all-around nutrition. 

4) Provide a distraction 

To distract your pet from pain, use interactive toys and chew treats to keep her engaged. The more time she spends playing and chewing, the less anxious she will feel. You can provide your pup with super interactive toys to keep him engaged and distracted. 

Dog in heat

5) Focus on appetite 

While some dogs may show a reduction in appetite, others may have an increased appetite. Whether your dog has a small or large appetite, give nutritious and healthy food and dog treats.  

Undesired pregnancy? Available Options

Unfortunately, accidents do happen even after being cautious. Sometimes, in heat, dogs sneak out and link up with other dogs and get pregnant. But there are a few things you can do to abort the pregnancy. 

1) Spaying

When in heat, female dogs release hormones to attract male dogs, and mating can take place quickly within 10 minutes without even pet parents noticing it. If you want to prevent mating, get your dog spayed. It is a quick surgery where a vet removes a dog's uterus and ovaries. 

The surgery can also be done in early pregnancy, removing the foetuses with the reproductive organs. Spaying during pregnancy is a complicated and great risk. 

Dog in heat

2) Veterinary Abortion

Every paw-rent is responsible, but still sometimes can face unwanted pregnancies. Veterinary abortion is a feasible and effective way to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. However, abortin carries more risk than spaying and mis-mating injection. Most vets won't opt for abortion until the dog pregnancy has reached a stage where injections and spaying won't work. 

Do male dogs go in heat?

The Estrus cycle is a time in female dogs when they become receptive to mating with males. However, male dogs don't go in heat. Instead, they are capable of mating once they become fertile at about 6 months old.

A dog in heat may have various demands and might require extra attention and care. With proper guidance, tools, and knowledge, your dog in heat can be easy to manage. If you are not ready for pregnancy, it is better to get your dog spayed. 

You can check out pawsindia.com to buy healthy treats and super interactive toys for your dogs. Keep your dog comfortable during the heat by using soft beds and blankets from Pawsindia. We are India's leading e-commerce platform, trying to make pet parenting easy and accessible. We aim to create a healthy space for pet parents and pets. Let's revolutionise the pet space together. 

With PawsIndia - You Parent, We Pamper

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