Do female dogs act weird when in heat? Yes, female dogs tend to behave in a peculiar way when in heat. These odd behaviours are caused by the hormonal changes in their bodies.
Spotting the common behaviours of a female dog in heat is essential if you plan to successfully breed your pooch or keep her safe from accidental pregnancies.
Common Behaviour of a Female Dog in Heat #1
Vaginal Discharge and Bleeding
What are the symptoms of a female dog in heat? Menstruation is one of the most telling female dogs on heat signs.
You will notice that your pooch’s vagina is producing a bloody discharge. It begins heavily but eventually lightens in colour with a watery consistency.
However, the flow of bleeding in female dogs may vary. Some often experience heavy bleeding, whilst others bleed only a little. If you are concerned that your dog has an abnormal bloody discharge, consult the vet immediately.
Common Behaviour of a Female Dog in Heat #2
Excessive Licking of Private Parts
When female dogs are in heat, their increased oestrogen levels trigger the expansion of the vulva. The organ will appear red and puffy. Its inflamed state may cause itchiness.
Licking the vulva is a female dog in heat behaviour, it is done to relieve the discomforting feeling. Licking their genital area is also their way of cleaning up the vaginal discharge.
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Common Behaviour of a Female Dog in Heat #3
The vulva swelling that female dogs in heat experience adds pressure on their bladder. Hence, they end up frequently urinating. Once their heat has passed, the occurrence of their urination will go back to normal.
Common Behaviour of a Female Dog in Heat #4
Hormone changes can alter the behaviour of female dogs in heat. How they act depends on their temperament.
Some will become more affectionate and clingy toward their human companions. Others may become uncharacteristically anxious and aggressive.
Another common female dog on heat behaviour is nesting. It is the maternal instinct to create a safe space to have and care for puppies.
A female dog in heat will make a den out of laundry, pillows, toys, newspapers, and anything she sees fit to keep her puppies comfortable.
Common Behaviour of a Female Dog in Heat #5
Receptive to Mating
Being open to attention is another evident female dog heat behaviour. Your canine companion will become more friendly toward male dogs.
She might “flirt” by moving her tail to the side and allowing them to sniff and lick her rear end. It is a sign that she is ready to mate.
Common Behaviour of a Female Dog in Heat #6
Mounting and Humping
Contrary to popular belief, male pooches are not the only ones prone to doing this dog in season behaviour. Females also mount and hump male dogs or dogs of the same sex as an arousal response. Furniture, other pets, and even human companions may become their targets as well.
4 Stages of a Dog’s Heat Cycle
What are the 4 stages of a dog in heat? Heat cycles in canines have 4 stages, which are respectively pro-oestrus, oestrus, dioestrus, and anestrus.
1. Pro-oestrus Stage
This stage marks the beginning of a dog’s heat period, which lasts around 7–10 days. For some canines, it can last up to 17 days. Some common behaviours of a female dog in heat that may occur during this stage are:
- Vaginal bleeding and discharges
- Swelling of the vulva
- Behavioural changes
- Excessive licking of the private parts
Your dog will start to attract the attention of male dogs. However, she is not ready to mate yet and will not welcome their advances.
2. Oestrus Stage
A female dog is fertile, and she is receptive to mating when her heat cycle reaches this stage. The time length of oestrus in canines is about 3–10 days. In some cases, it can run up to 21 days.
The common behaviours of a female dog in heat that your pooch may exhibit around this time:
- Increased urination
- Mounting and humping
- Flirting with male dogs
The menstruation of a dog in heat will begin to subside during the oestrus stage. Her blood discharge now lightens into a light pink or straw colour. The swelling of her vulva will also ease off.
3. Dioestrus Stage
This stage refers to the temporary end of a dog’s fertility. The dioestrus period lasts anywhere from 60–90 days. If your pooch has become pregnant, this stage will go on until she gives birth to the puppies. One common female dog behaviour after heat is her lack of interest in mating with male dogs.
4. Anestrus Stage
In this part of the heat cycle, female dogs have their downtime, earning it the nickname “the resting stage.” Pooches will show no signs of sexual activity during this period.
The anestrus is the longest phase of the canine heat cycle. It can last for around 100–150 days. Once this stage ends, the entire heat cycle begins again.
Frequency and Length of Heat in Dogs
How often do dogs go into heat? On average, sexually mature female dogs are in heat twice a year and around 6 months apart.
However, small dogs experience heat more frequently than their bigger counterparts. They go in heat 3–4 times a year, whilst large breeds are in heat only every 12–18 months.
It should also be noted that an irregular heat cycle is common in young dogs after experiencing their first heat. It takes up to 18 months for some dogs to have a regular heat cycle.
Some pet owners wonder: “Is a dog’s first heat shorter?” The answer is not clear-cut since the length of dogs’ heat varies individually.
In general, their heat can last around for 2–3 weeks. For some pooches, it may last for around 1 1/2–2 weeks, whilst others may experience a longer heat.
It is common for young dogs to have irregular heat cycles after their first heat. However, it will become more stable as they reach maturity.
If a pooch is prone to abnormal heat cycles, it might be caused by health issues, which should be checked by the vet.
Average Age a Dog Goes in Heat
6 months old is the average age when female dogs begin their first heat cycle. However, some pooches go into heat as early as 4 months of age. On the other hand, it may take around 2 years for large dog breeds to experience heat.
Breeding female dogs during their first heat is highly discouraged. It can cause birth complications, most especially if the mother is too young. Her body is still underdeveloped and unprepared to carry and give birth a litter.
It is recommended to wait until female dogs have their third heat before breeding them. This usually happens when they reach around 18–24 months old.
5 Home Remedies for Dog in Heat
Are dogs in pain when in heat? Due to the hormonal changes in their body, female dogs in heat may feel uncomfortable and restless. To some extent, they may experience pain brought on by menstrual cramps. However, it is not as excruciating as period pains in humans.
Being in heat is mentally and physically taxing to your dog. Knowing what to do when your dog is in heat will help in alleviating the discomfort she feels. Here are some helpful tips you can follow:
1. Never leave your dog unsupervised.
Be warned that male dogs can track a female pooch in heat from miles away. Avoid unwanted pregnancy by keeping her indoors until her heat has passed.
Do not let her roam in your back garden or other outdoor spots without a lead to prevent her from running away in search of males.
Make sure that your dog’s microchip information and ID tag are updated. If your pooch escapes from home, the microchip and ID tag with her have all the necessary information to increase your chances of reuniting with her.
2. Have your dog wear diapers.
Contain your pet’s messes with a dog diaper. It minimises the problem of surfaces getting stained with urine or blood and makes cleaning up less time-consuming for you.
If dog diapers are not available in your area, human diapers are a good alternative. Just remember to cut a hole in the diaper for your pet’s tail.
3. Keep your dog in an enclosed and easy-to-clean area.
Limit the mess caused by your dog’s heat by placing her in a baby-gated or closed room.
Choosing a place with tiled floors than wood is a good idea to make clean-up easier. The area should be free from carpets or upholstered furniture.
Cover your dog’s bed with towels to catch any blood or discharge. If you need to clean the room, place your dog inside a crate. This allows you to keep an eye on her whilst you tidy up.
4. Be attentive to your dog’s needs.
How do you comfort a female dog in heat? Create a comfortable nesting place for your dog using her favourite blankets and toys.
Learn how to approach her by monitoring her behaviour. If she is easily irritated, give her some space. Touching her when she is aggressive can lead to biting accidents. Allow her to get some rest in a quiet place.
Entice your dog with indoor games if she seems restless and full of pent-up energy. Keeping her mind and body sated with fun and challenging activities helps in uplifting her spirits.
When your dog wants some attention, make her feel safe and loved by taking time to cuddle with her.
5. Consider getting your dog spayed.
Unspayed female dogs are at high risk of accidental pregnancies whenever their heat starts. Spaying her will spare you from this problem if you do not plan to breed your dog.
Generally, small and medium dogs can be spayed when they reach 5–6 months old. Large and giant breeds, on the other hand, can be spayed once their growth has stopped, which is around 9–15 months of age.
Premature spaying delays growth plate closures of these dogs. It can cause their bones to become underdeveloped once they mature. This increases the danger of sustaining musculoskeletal injuries.
Many pet owners may find female dogs in heat behaviour vexing, especially if it is their first time witnessing this. However, no matter how odd your pooch’s actions become during her heat, always be kind and patient toward her.
Her body is undergoing changes, which she does not understand. It can put undue stress on her. Instead of scolding her, aim to keep her comfortable and happy.