In heat: Tips for a female dog in heat

If you get a female puppy in the house you will probably experience at least one heat. During a part of this season your dog is fertile and she could get pregnant. Puppies are great fun, but no one is waiting for an unplanned litter. Raising and caring for the mother dog and her puppies can be seen as a full-time job and then you have to find suitable owners for the puppies, otherwise you could suddenly have 12 dogs. It is not at all healthy for a too young female to become a mother, often you see that their own growth stops and they retain a puppy-like body after the pregnancy. And if your dog is old enough and you decide you want a litter it is wise to think carefully about which male would suit your female, in the picture you see a cross between a Chinese crested nudist and a French bulldog.

So it is important that you keep a close eye on your dog when she is in heat. How to recognize heat, what are the phases and how to get through it.

How often is a dog in heat?

When and how often a female dog comes into heat varies from individual to individual. However, if you have several dog females in the house they often come into heat at about the same time. In general, small breed females first go into heat between six and ten months of age and then, if they are not spayed, about twice a year. Large breed females become it about as soon as they are ten to sixteen months old, with outliers not experiencing their first heat until after their second birthday. Larger breed dogs may also go into heat twice a year, but once a year is also common for them. The heat lasts about three weeks, but the lady is only fertile for a few days during this period.

Recognize signs of heat

During heat, the behavior of your dog and the dogs around her changes. Your female may start sniffing more and snarling off herself sooner. Many dogs suddenly make very often small puddles, in order to spread their scent. She will smell attractive to males, but other dogs may also become curious. A dog female in heat has a swollen vulva (kind of labia) and loses blood. How visible the heat is, varies from dog to dog, one is very clean and washes away every drop of blood immediately and the other just lets it flow. So pay attention if your dog or other dogs start to behave ‘strangely’. By wiping with a clean toilet paper you can see if your dog female is already losing blood.

Phases of the heat

The heat begins with the pre-estrus, this is a kind of preparation for the fertile period. The vulva of the female swells and she loses blood. During this period she is not yet fertile and she does not want to mate. The female does smell good to males and most will be interested by now. This phase can last from a few days to two weeks.

Next, the dog female enters estrus. In this period the ovulation takes place and she is fertile. The bloody discharge becomes discolored and decreases. She now wants to mate, some females even run away if they get the chance. If they encounter a male, some females will now ‘be ready’, by turning their ass to the male and putting their tail to the side. Not only male dogs, but also many dogs find the female in heat smelling interesting. This period lasts four to fifteen days.

Dealing with a dog female in heat

It is wise, especially the first time, to keep your female in heat on a leash during the entire heat. When exactly a female is fertile differs from individual to individual and can even vary from time to time. Some dog female in heat are not interested in males at all and may suddenly try to mate themselves the next season.

If necessary, try to adjust your route and walking times, so you will encounter as few stray dogs as possible. A dog in heat smells so attractive to many dogs that they, even if they normally listen well, can run away. Not good for the owner and not good for you if you have to keep a herd of men away from your dog female.

Most females are also more distracted during their heat. Real training can be frustrating for both parties because of this. This does not mean that your dog can suddenly do anything, but it is not the time to start new difficult things. Females in heat are also not allowed at many dog shows because they would distract the dogs too much.

Some females are so clean that you won’t be bothered by their heat indoors, but the majority still lose at least an occasional drop of blood. Depending on your floor and the amount, you may decide to just wipe this away, but if that is not desirable or feasible, there are solutions for sale. For example, a pair of heat pants or dog diapers.

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