This Is How Often to Expect Your Dog to Go into Heat

Written by Cedric Jackson
Published: May 13, 2022
Image Credit Seregraff/Shutterstock.com
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Having a female dog for the first time may surprise you with the physical changes that come with sexual maturity. At six months, your dog’s body will start to experience estrus or the heat cycle. This event will keep happening if you do not plan to spay your pup.

It is a pretty exciting time, but how often should you expect your dog to go into heat? Let’s look into these questions to help you prepare each time your dog has her cycle.

When Does Estrus Start?

This cycle starts when your female dog reaches four to six months old if you have a small breed. Larger breeds could start their first cycle from 18 to 24 months of age. Once in heat, your dog will be receptive to males and mating. The levels of hormones will fluctuate. This will trigger obvious changes in your dog’s body and behavior. Your dog will be more alert or nervous.

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How Long Does Each Cycle Last?

Some dogs are not receptive at the start of the cycle. Others are accepting of males all throughout estrus. So, how long does a heat cycle last? Between two to four weeks. Estrus may be longer or shorter. It depends on the female dog’s body.

You will know that the cycle is over when your dog does not have bloody discharge anymore. The vulva will return to its normal size at this point. There is only a small window or peak fertility during heat. It may start about nine or even 10 days after going into heat. Your dog will be fertile for about five days. Pregnancy may start by the end of the heat cycle.

Is This Going to Be a Regular Event in Your Dog’s Life?

It may take some time before your dog’s estrus becomes consistent. Keeping a record of your dog’s early heat cycles can help you keep an eye on it until it becomes regular. Estrus can happen every four to six months on average. Small breeds can have their cycle about three to four times each year. Large ones can go through estrus every 12 to 18 months.

Female dogs can experience estrus all their lives. They will not go through menopause. As your dog ages, there will be longer gaps between cycles.

What Are the Known Signs of Estrus in Dogs?

Your dog’s vulva will swell up, indicating the start of a heat cycle. Vaginal bleeding will confirm that your dog is in heat. The discharge may only come out a few days after the heat cycle starts. Some dogs have light bleeding, while others experience heavy discharge. Bring your dog to the vet if you are worried about your dog’s bleeding.

Male dogs will find your female dog attractive at the start of her heat cycle. Most females will mate about seven to 10 days into estrus. Your dog’s discharge will change as the heat cycle goes on. It will start as thick and dark red. Then, it will degrade into a blood-tinged, watery discharge.

Your dog’s urine will be filled with hormones and pheromones. These components will signal the males that she will be mating soon. More frequent urination ensures that the males receive her message.

Most dogs groom themselves more frequently during this time. You may not see blood drops around your home because of this. Your dog may also become nervous and bend her tail to the side. She may also start to be too friendly to other dogs. Seeking out male dogs in the neighborhood tends to happen.

When Is It the Right Time to Mate Your Dog?

Many dog parents find this difficult to estimate. Most dogs are receptive by day 11 of the cycle. The discharge will be salmon-colored. By this time, your dog will look for a male and present her posterior end while tucking her tail to one side. This is a preparatory position for mounting.

There are two available tests to determine your dog’s ovulation peak. A serum progesterone test measures the amount of progesterone in your dog’s blood. It is a popular test because it is accurate. It may need many days of testing to get the right ovulation day. Your vet may suggest a daily luteinizing hormone test every day.

Vaginal smears or vaginal cytology examines the vaginal cells through a microscope. This will spot the changes in the cell numbers and physical appearance. This is a reliable test. It is non-invasive, so it does not cause pain.

The vet can do these tests at the vet clinic. The serum progesterone test indicates a high possibility of success in female dogs that had unsuccessful mating before. It is also effective for female dogs that will need to travel a great distance to be with the male dog.

How Do You Care for a Male Dog Around a Female in Heat?

Female dogs need to be in a certain physical readiness to reproduce. This is called estrus. Do male dogs experience the cycle as well? No. Males do not go into heat at all. Male dogs are always capable of mating. They become sexually mature and ready to mate by the time they reach six months of age.

Dogs in heat have a great impact on the males. They release methyl p-hydroxybenzoate, which is a pheromone that can arouse male dogs that smell it. This pheromone aims to attract intact males. The female will be the only focus of any male dog that smells her. The male may keep tracking the female, practice aggression, increase urine marking, and stop eating. This can happen throughout the heat cycle.

Keep an intact male dog as far away from the female in heat if you do not want your dog to have puppies. Bringing the intact male dog out for regular exercises can distract the male. Pheromone sprays on the market can be helpful. Asking your vet about these sprays before using them is important.

Consider Spaying to Avoid the Stresses of Estrus

Spaying your female dog can prevent physical and behavioral changes from happening. Male dogs will not stalk your female dog. Your dog will live longer and become healthier. Spaying can also help achieve a more relaxed and quiet home. Dogs who come into heat tend to cry a lot and demand to go outside.

Neutering male dogs can help prevent the dangers of looking for the female in heat and fighting over her. This keeps the male dog inside the home. A neutered dog has a lower risk of getting injured since there will be no biological need to leave the house.

Products That Can Help Manage the Situation of Having a Female Dog in Heat

A dog in heat can become a handful, especially if it is your first time managing one. Your dog will need all the help she can get. Keeping her clean, safe, and calm can reduce the stress from the behavioral and physical changes of estrus. Below are some of the products you can use to make your dog’s heat cycle easier.

Dog Pads

These pads are made of cotton material. It is the same absorbent cotton in dog diapers. You can put these pads or mats on your dog’s bed. It can protect the dog bed or sofa from stains. This is for dogs who relax all day. You can place and change the pads without issue at all if your dog prefers to stay near you.

Dog Diapers

You can put one of the best diapers for dogs on your dog to prevent blood from dripping all over your floor and furniture. These products can trap moisture well. All you need to do is change it constantly. This will prevent your dog from developing skin irritation. Changing your dog’s diapers or dog pants will be more frequent if she bleeds excessively.

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Sprays

There are some synthetic sprays available on the market. The smells from these sprays can make your dog less attractive to intact males. This is an effective way to keep male dogs from staying around or breaking into your premises.

Delicious Treats

Your dog may not eat that much during her heat cycle. This is not good since she is shedding blood and uterine tissue. Giving her Blue Buffalo all-natural dog treats can help stimulate her appetite. These treats are tasty and nutritious, allowing good nutrient intake during estrus.

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Dog Wipes

Pet wipes can help keep your dog clean and odor-free during her heat cycle. Wiping her many times a day with the top pet wipes you can get can keep your dog fresh. This will keep blood from collecting on your dog’s fur.

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Dog Gates

The best dog gates can keep your dog inside your home or inside a specific area of your home. This can prevent your dog from going out and seeing male dogs.

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Conclusion

It can be exhausting to keep up with the demands of your dog during her heat cycle. Knowing when to prepare for it can reduce your anxiety. As a pet parent, you have the responsibility to keep your dog safe, healthy, comfortable, and happy during this time. Spaying or neutering will always be an option, but if you are still setting that aside, the mentioned tips and products can help make things easier.

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