A dog in heat is sexually aroused and may bleed from the vagina and/or anus. The average time for a female dog to go through heat is around two weeks, but can vary depending on the dog's age, weight, and health. A dog in heat may become irritable and restless, and may exhibit increased vocalization, marking, and aggression. If left untreated, the dog may develop vaginal or anal infections.
Don't be surprised if your sweet little girl gets her period if she isn't spayed. This is the start of her estrus cycle, also known as "heat."."When a female dog is in heat, she is open to mating and can become pregnant.". While bleeding is one of the most visible signs that a dog is in heat, her estrus cycle lasts much longer than this initial stage.
So, how long do dogs stay in heat? And how do you know when your dog is ready to mate? Daily Paws spoke with a veterinarian to find out.
When Do Dogs Get Pregnant?
This period of fertility and breeding can occur in your dog at a surprisingly young age. Lonna J. "The timing of the first heat varies by the size of the dog," says Nielsen, DVM of Winterset Veterinary Center in Winterset, Iowa. It can happen as early as 6 months of age for small dogs or 1 year of age for large dogs.5 years for giant breeds. Having an intact [non-neutered] male in the house will help a female get heat faster. Small dogs can be as young as 4 months old!"
The Female Dog Heat Cycle
how long do dogs stay in heat infographic depicting the four stages
Credit: Kailey Whitman
How long are dogs in heat? You might be surprised to learn that your dog's heat cycle can last weeks, and "the female should be confined and not left outside alone for a full 30 days," Nielsen says.
Stage 1: Signs That Your Dog Is In Heat
The swelling of your dog's vulva and bright red bloody discharge are the first signs that she is in heat. This stage is called proestrus. "There will be a lot of licking," Nielsen predicts. A dog in heat can bleed for seven to ten days. The female will not accept a male during this first stage of the reproductive cycle.
Stage 2: When Can Your Dog Get Pregnant?
The second stage of the dog heat cycle, known as the estrus stage, begins once the bleeding stops. Many people believe that their dog's estrus is complete at this point, but this second stage is when your dog can become pregnant. "At this point, when the blood is done, she will accept a male," Nielsen says. "This lasts another seven to ten days."."The vulva will become soft and enlarged during this stage.".
If your dog is in heat and you don't want her to become pregnant, keep her away from intact males during this time. "Heat is very intense and instinctive for both males and females," Nielsen says. "They have been known to break out windows and chew or dig through doors to get together, and they will breed through fences and kennels.". It is a strong impulse."
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Stage 3: The End of the Heat Cycle in a Dog
Diestrus, the final stage of the heat cycle, lasts about two months. It includes vulva reswelling and pink discharge, and she will not accept a male. As the final stage concludes, the vulva returns to normal and the discharge diminishes. If your dog mated with a male, this is the time of pregnancy, though diestrus lasts 60 days whether or not she's carrying puppies.
RELATED: False Dog Pregnancy Is More Common Than You Think
Stage 4: The Downtime
When your dog is not in heat, he is said to be anestrus. This period lasts several months (between three and six months on average, though this varies by dog) before she enters proestrus again.
How Frequently Do Dogs Go into Heat?
Unspayed female dogs' heat cycles begin roughly every six months until they are 8 to 10 years old.
"They seem to show a preference for spring and fall—when the days lengthen and then when it starts getting cooler," Nielsen says.
"The first heat cycle, according to Nielsen, will be light, and owners may think, This is easy! No big deal.". "However, when the second cycle arrives, it's 'Holy crap!'" she exclaims.
Spaying Your Dog
If you have your female dog spayed, she will not go through the estrus cycle or become pregnant. If your puppy becomes pregnant before being spayed, consult with your veterinarian about the best time for the procedure. Spaying is generally recommended before the dog's first heat (as early as 8 weeks of age), but the procedure can be performed after the first heat has passed.
Aside from preventing pregnancy, spaying reduces the risk of mammary cancer and pyometra (uterine infection).
A female dog will go through estrus, or heat, roughly every six months from the time she is six months old until the end of her life. This is the time when she is receptive to mating. Hormonal changes will cause noticeable differences in your dog, such as a swollen vulva, bleeding, more frequent urination, and increased nervousness or alertness. She will also approach male dogs by raising her rump and holding her tail off to the side.
When does heat start?
Smaller breed dogs can go into heat as young as four months, but the average age is six months. Some giant breeds may not reach sexual maturity until they are 18-24 months old. Young female dogs should not be bred during their first and second cycles. Their eggs are not yet mature, and the dog is not fully mature. If you intend to breed your dog, your veterinarian will be able to tell you when the dog is mature enough to be bred.
How long is each cycle?
Heat usually lasts 2-4 weeks. A female dog may not be receptive to male dogs early in the cycle, though some are receptive throughout the cycle. It can be shorter or longer, and you'll know the cycle is over when all of her vulva returns to normal size and no more bleeding or discharge occurs. There is a relatively short window during the heat cycle when your dog is most fertile; it may begin about nine or ten days after she goes into heat and last about five days. She can, however, become pregnant until the end of the cycle.
Is this a lifetime thing?
Once estrus begins, the cycle may take some time to normalize. It can take up to eighteen months for some dogs to develop a regular cycle. Keeping a record during these early days is a good idea. Once it does, it happens about every six months on average. Smaller breeds may go into heat more frequently, up to three or four times per year. Larger dogs, such as Irish Wolfhounds and St. Bernards and Great Danes may only have heat cycles every 12-18 months. Female dogs, unlike humans, experience estrus throughout their lives, though the time between cycles lengthens.
With the exception of purebred breeders, the majority of pet owners choose to spay their female dogs before the first heat. According to some experts, this lowers the risk of mammary cancer and other conditions. It also prevents the formation of unwanted litters.
How long does a dog stay in heat after the bleeding begins?
Heat usually lasts between 2-4 weeks . A female dog may not be receptive to male dogs early in the cycle, though some are receptive throughout the cycle. It can be shorter or longer, and you'll know the cycle is over when all of her vulva returns to normal size and no more bleeding or discharge occurs.
What are the four stages of a dog's heat cycle?
The canine estrous (reproductive) cycle is divided into four stages. These are proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus . Each stage has its own set of symptoms, including behavioral changes, physical or clinical changes, hormonal changes, physiologic changes, and cytologic (vaginal smear) changes.
How long do blood periods last in dogs?
A dog's typical heat period with bleeding will last about two weeks. two to four weeks . The entire heat cycle takes about five to seven months. The heat cycle has four phases, each with its own set of symptoms and behaviors. Two of the four phases involve bleeding or bloody discharge.