Is my dog susceptible to being in heat?

  1. If your female dog has not been neutered or spayed, she is considered to be intact.
  2. Intact dogs tend to have their first heat cycle somewhere between six to 12 months of age.
  3. However, larger dog breeds may sometimes have their first seasonal mentrual cycle when they are 12 months or older.
  4. Spaying your female dog is a good way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the hassle that vaginal bleeding ensues.
  5. There are many health benefits associated with spaying your female dog, such as decreased chances of developing mammary tumours, uterine infections, and even hair coat problems.
  6. Female dogs while in heat may face complications if they undergo surgeries. It would be ideal to spay your dog when her heat cycle is over.

Things to know about the female dog’s heat cycle

  1. The complete female heat cycle takes about six months. Therefore female dogs typically go through two heat cycles a year.
  2. The average female dog’s heat cycle lasts for about three weeks.
  3. Conception is likely to happen around seven to 14 days after her heat cycle starts.
  4. Confining your female dog will be necessary in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Stages of the female dog’s heat cycle

  1. Proestrus begins with vaginal bleeding, swelling of the vulva, increasing urination, and male dogs hanging around your home or near your female dog. Female dogs tend to ignore them during this period, as fertilisation cannot occur at this stage. Proestrus lasts for about nine days on average, though it ranges between one to 17 days depending on the dog.
  2. Estrus is the time when the female allows the male to impregnate her. This period also known as “standing heat” can last from four to 21 days. Vaginal discharge turns a lighter shade of red; some may become straw or wheat coloured, and this indicates that they are ready for breeding. “Flagging”, the act of lifting her tail, and rubbing her rear against various objects show that the female dog is in heat. Ovulation also occurs during flagging and can last between four to seven days.
  3. Metestrus is the penultimate stage of the female dog’s heat cycle. This is when the uterus gets prepared for impregnation. If fertilisation occurs, the eggs may take up to a week before they attach themselves to the uterine wall. False pregnancies are not uncommon at this stage, which can last from anywhere between four to 14 days. If fertilisation does not occur, anestrus will take place.
  4. Anestrus is the last stage of the female dog’s heat cycle. It is the resting time between the cycles and normally lasts for about five months.

How to tell if my female dog is in heat

  1. Personality changes may occur; such as becoming irritable or shyer or more affectionate. Some dogs “hump” each other or “flag” objects with their rears.
  2. Physical changes such as a swollen vulva, increased urination, and vaginal bleeding can occur. Your dog’s teats (nipples) may become pinker and puffy.
  3. Male dogs tend to hang around your home, or around your female dog.