Estrus (also known as ‘heat’) is the period when females mate. Dogs have their first estrous cycle between 6-12 months of age. Although it varies from dog to dog, most females will go into heat twice a year. While your dog is in heat, she will release a hormone to attract males. Dogs in heat may become emotional easily as well. It is important to be patient and understanding of her situation during this time.
It is advised to keep children and other animals away from a dog in heat, as she may have a short temper during this time. Be sure that your dog has all her up to date shots and vaccinations before breeding, as this helps to avoid any secondary diseases and illness during pregnancy.
Dog in Heat Cycle
1. Proestrus – This begins with vaginal bleeding. It will last anywhere from 4 to 9 days, depending on the breed of dog. Smaller dogs have quicker heat cycles than large breed dogs. Some symptoms of proestrus may be increased urination and swelling in the genital region. Females will not yet mate with males.
2. Estrus – This is the time when the female will mate with a male companion. The vaginal bleeding will slow, and may become a brown or yellow color. This stage can last anywhere from 4 to 14 days. This is known as the ovulation period. If you do not wish to breed your dog, it is important to have her spayed before the Estrus stage. Some veterinarians will still perform the procedure during this time, but it is recommended to do it before.
3. Diestrus – Your dog will stop discharging and the affectionate behavior towards males will stop. This stage will usually last between 6 and 10 weeks. There will be many hormonal changes in your dog, and the uterine walls will thicken again to prepare for the next heat period. If your dog was successfully impregnated, her pregnancy will last around 60 to 65 days. This is also the stage where dogs may show symptoms of a false pregnancy if they weren’t impregnated during the Estrus stage.
4. Anestrus – This is the final stage of a dog in heat cycle. This when your dog’s symptoms subside and she goes back to normal. This stage will last between 60 and 90 days, depending on the breed of dog. There will be no hormonal activity, interest in mating or discharge. If she had become pregnant, she would already have had her litter and begin mothering her pups.
How long does a dog stay in heat?
The heat period will average for about 20 days, but it can vary from dog to dog.
Conception usually happens within half way through. Females will allow breeding between 10 to 16 days after her cycle begins. If you don’t want your dog to become pregnant, it is best to keep her inside the home, or away from males for at least a month to be safe.
Recording your dog’s cycle will help to track when she will be in heat. Usually, your dog’s heat cycle will stay the same throughout her life.
What to do during your dog’s heat cycle
Some things to keep in mind when your dog is in heat:
- Purchase doggy diapers. This will help prevent blood stains on the floors during her proestrus period. Doggy diapers can range from extra small to extra large.
- Keep males away from your dog during her time in heat, unless you have a mate prepared for her. If she is an outdoor dog, it is recommended that you bring her inside during her heat period to avoid a problem with male neighborhood dogs.
- Consider applying menthol under your dog’s tail to mask the hormone and keep males away. Menthol may also be applied to a male dog’s nose in the house to keep him from being exposed to the female’s hormone scent.
- Pay extra attention to your female while she’s in heat. She will likely feel anxious and needy. Don’t punish her for this behavior, be sensitive to her situation.