Signs Your Dog is in Heat
When dogs go into heat, they exhibit certain behaviors that owners will recognize if we are aware of what they represent and how to interpret them. For instance, when a female dog is in heat, she will actually flirt with males. When a female holds their tail up in the direction of a male, it's not by accident, it’s their way of saying “I like you!”
Most dogs go into heat for the first time at a young age. Unspayed female dogs usually start going into heat around 6 months. This timeline fluctuates depending on the breed. Smaller dogs may begin the heat cycle as early as 5 months. Larger dogs may not start their cycle until around a year old and some won’t begin until 14 months. Once their first cycle of heat begins, it will be consistent for the rest of their life, unless prevented through surgery.
Female dogs will go into heat about once every six or seven months. They experiences four different stages when they're in heat –also known as the Estrus Cycle.
Proestrus is the first part of the cycle in which dogs will go through the menstruation period, which lasts roughly ten days. During this time, dogs will appear nervous, uncomfortable, experience a lack of appetite, and be shy around other dogs. They will also begin spotting and discharging menstrual fluid. This stage can last anywhere from four to twenty days.
Next is estrus known as the mating stage. Female dogs will make themselves approachable to male dogs. They are looking for a mate and will show this by flirting with other dogs. She may put her rear end up when around male dogs or stand willingly and present her vulva. Also, the red secretions from the proestrus stage will change in color to a pinkish-tan. This stage of the heat cycle lasts five to 13 days.
When dogs hit this stage, they stop discharging menstrual fluid. Flirtatious behavior toward male dogs will also end. If the dog mated successfully, she will become pregnant and give birth typically within a 60-64 day gestation period. If not, she will enter the last stage of the heat cycle.
This is the period in which your dog ends her heat cycle. In this stage, she will experience sexual inactivity, normally for 6 months. However, depending on the breed, it can last anywhere from five to eleven months.
Then, the cycle starts ALL over again!
Don’t want your dog to go into heat? No problem.
The only way to prevent the heat cycle is to have your dog spayed. Normally dogs can be spayed when they are as young as 2 months, but it can vary, so talking with a veterinarian about the appropriate time would be the safest route. The procedure also reduces their risk for accidental pregnancy, breast cancer, and diseases of the reproductive organs.
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