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how long does my dog stay in heat

How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat?

Congratulations, it’s a girl! Now what? Adopting a new puppy, especially a female, requires doing some research to ensure that you are fully prepared. Now is the time to read about her upcoming life stages, including when she reaches reproductive maturity.

Beginning at six months old, your female dog will experience estrus, or heat. What exactly does this mean? It means she is now able to mate and will experience hormonal changes that will cause noticeable differences in her behavior. 

Some of these changes include:

  • A swollen vulva 
  • Bleeding 
  • Frequent urination 
  • Increased nervousness or alertness 

You might also notice that she presents herself to male dogs. 

The only option to prevent your pup from going into heat is to have her spayed, which we highly recommend. To understand your female dog’s health fully, it’s helpful to have a working understanding of her heat cycle!

How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat? 

Female dogs experience their first period once they reach puberty, which is usually around six months of age. This can depend on her breed and lasts between 1 ½  to 2 weeks. 

Most dogs will have irregular periods at first, but the cycle tends to normalize in the first two years. Because of this, it’s a good idea to keep a record of her cycle in the early days so that you can begin to monitor it. You will know that her cycle is ending when her vulva returns to its normal size and there is no more bleeding.

Once it begins to normalize, the average cycle recurs every 6 months. Of course, it depends on the breed. Smaller breeds go into heat more frequently, and larger dogs may only go into heat every 12-18 months! As your dog gets older, the frequency of her heat cycles may slow down. 

Look for some common signs to know if your dog is in heat or not

The Signs of a Dog in Heat 

It is very important to know the signs of a dog in heat, especially if you have a dog that has not been spayed. By educating yourself, it can help you do the following:

  • Prepare for the experience
  • Prevent unwanted pregnancy
  • Plan for puppies
  • Avoid dangerous situations

The earliest sign of a dog in heat is swelling of the vulva. However, this is not always obvious and, in many cases, bloody discharge is the first sign that a pet parent will notice. A clearer sign of a dog being in heat is that she may lick her genital area a lot more than normal as an attempt to keep herself clean. 

There are some other signs you can look for to determine if she is in heat.

Your dog may:

  • Be overly friendly with other dogs
  • Seek out male companions
  • Mount or hump other pets or items
  • Turn her tail to the side (tail flagging)
  • Fidget or act nervous
  • Exhibit changes in appetite

You may also notice that she is urinating more often. Her urine contains very strong pheromones and hormones, both of which signal her reproductive state to other dogs. This is how dogs in heat attract other dogs.So avoid introducing her to other dogs while she is in heat. 

Understanding the female reproductive period is important even if you don’t own a female dog. The female scent is extremely attractive to males, so pay close attention if you have a non-neutered male dog around a female in heat. A non-neutered male dog is able to detect a female in heat up to three miles away.

It may seem like owning a dog in heat is complicated, but it doesn’t have to be! Understanding what your pet is experiencing is the first step in knowing how to care for her during this time.

There are a few extra steps you can take to care for your female dog in heat!

Caring For Your Dog In Heat

A female dog is ready to mate while in heat so she’ll require extra supervision and care during this time. Keep her entertained and distracted since this will relieve some of her anxiety. We also recommend extra walks to help reduce her stress. 

Protect your dog by going out into the yard with her when she’s in heat. Even if she is extremely well trained, no amount of obedience training is as strong as a dog’s natural instincts during this time.

All dogs react differently to heat. Some may feel tired and rest all day while others may have a surge of energy and can’t seem to stay still. Observing her behavior and finding the right balance between rest and exercise is important to keep her comfortable.

Even though your dog will bleed, she isn’t in pain. Many dog parents choose to use doggy underwear or doggy diapers in order to avoid stains around the house and make clean-up a little easier. However, being in heat can make her uncomfortable and fidgety. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect that her symptoms may be causing pain.

Understanding your dog’s cycle, how to care for her, and how to protect her from other dogs is extremely important. Make sure to keep a close eye on her during her cycle and reach out to your veterinarian if you have any questions. 

The Importance of Spaying your Dog

It is a common myth that female dogs will become more friendly and sociable after they have a litter of puppies. This is false and in fact, some pets tend to be better behaved following their spay surgery, making them more desirable companions. 

Spaying is highly recommended for all female dogs. Once she is spayed, she will have a reduced risk for mammary cancer and uterine infections. The surgery also prevents unwanted pregnancy, helps protect against a handful of health problems, and may reduce many of the behavioral problems associated with a dog’s natural mating instinct. 

What age should my dog be spayed?

The best way to prevent your dog from becoming pregnant is to have her spayed before her first cycle. Since it can be difficult to predict when this first cycle will occur, we recommend spaying your dog at five to seven months of age. Ultimately, spaying your dog while she’s still young sets her up for a healthier life. Consult your veterinarian about the most appropriate time to spay your pet based upon her breed, age, and physical condition. 

Fully understanding your dog’s cycle, when it happens, and how to care for her is very important to ensure that she is receiving the care that she needs. Spaying your pet is a highly recommended option. It prevents unwanted pregnancy and helps protect your dog against a plethora of serious health problems.

If you have more questions or need further guidance, consult your local PetWellClinic veterinarian today about your female dog’s health! 

PetWellClinic is dedicated to being here for pet owners. Our hours of operation extend into the evenings and weekends, and our clinic environment is built with your pet’s comfort in mind. If you have questions or concerns about your dog’s heat cycle, talk to your PetWellClinic veterinarian for guidance.

PetWellClinic provides convenient, affordable veterinary care for pet owners. PetWellClinic has locations and services built with convenience in mind. Stop by with your pet any time! No appointment necessary.

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