A recent research hypothesised that dogs spayed as pups are more prone to cancer and other diseases. As such, professionals recommend spaying female dogs after its first season or after a few years. This is a situation that all dog owners could encounter at least once. As early as now, it is best to acquaint yourself on what to expect or do when your dog is in heat.
Sexual maturity in dogs normally develops around the age of six months. However, smaller breeds are more likely to go into “heat” earlier than the large dog breeds. As early as the age of four months, it may commence its first oestrus or “heat” cycle. Furthermore, large breeds may develop its first regular cycle from eighteen months to two years old.
Dog is in heat: Oestrus cycle
The oestrus cycle is part of your canine’s nature, which occurs when the female becomes receptive to mating with males. How can you tell when a dog is in heat? This cycle comes in various stages and symptoms. It could take place for an average of 21 days, which is completely different from the human’s menstrual cycle.
- Pro-oestrous The initial stage of the heat cycle can last from seven to ten days with an average of nine days. At this time, the pooch is still not interested to mate and would attempt to protect her vulva by tucking her tail.
- Swelling of the vulva
- Unpredictable spotting from the vulva
- Personality changes (can be more affectionate and clingy or grumpy and distant)
- Tail tucking
- Oestrus Her vulva remains swollen, and the blood being discharged will turn to pink or pale yellow colour. The ovaries are now ready to release eggs for fertilisation. It may last for nine days on average.
- Changed colour of the discharged blood (from bright red to lighter pink or yellowish)
- Swollen vulva slowly softens and returns to its normal size
- Now receptive to males and would wag or shift its tail as an invitation
- Dioestrus This signifies the end of the fertile stage of the cycle. If she was impregnated during the previous stages, this will be her pregnancy stage.
- Gradual retraction of the swollen vulva
- Gradual cessation of discharge
- Flirting cessation. The bitch now lacks interest in flirting.
- For impregnated dogs, you may now start counting the 63-day period, which is the average canine pregnancy.
- Anoestrus If there is no successful breeding, your dog is now back to its usual self. Anoestrus is the resting period in preparation for the next cycle, which could last between five to eleven months.
Female Dog in Heat: Behaviour
A dog in heat has the tendency to engage in impulsive behaviour or personality changes within the cycle duration. This is due to drastic hormonal changes that your dog is not accustomed to. It may cause irritability and nervousness. Some might ask, “Is my dog in pain when in heat?”. Yes, it may bring pain during the ovulation stage.
- Sexual Behaviour She will definitely welcome unneutered male dogs. Without the presence of male dogs, she may exhibit mounting behaviours. She might or try to hump other dogs (male or female) and even people. Your pooch will try to do anything to get in contact with one.
What to do:
- Take careful supervision to prevent unplanned and unwanted breeding.
- During walks, ensure that your dog is leashed to prevent any contact with males. Certain areas at home should be escape-proof including the garden.
- Keep the smell away. When a dog is in heat, it emits a certain smell that lures male dogs through urinal marking and wagging its tail. Try to minimise by closing doors and windows and cleaning her more often. Putting on Vicks ointment right around your dog’s tail might be helpful in covering the scent.
- Aggressive Behaviour This is a common complaint of dog owners when dogs are in heat. Furthermore, the dog may be feeling lost and anxious resulting in aggression. How to calm a dog in heat? Here are some ways:
What to do:
- Soothe and keep her calm. You may want to avoid activities that could further aggravate her. Minimise its exposure to small children.
- Give extra attention by giving her treats and cuddling her, but only when she wants to.
- Try to distract her by playing games so as to make her tired and ready for a nice nap.
- Identify the triggers and try to keep her away from it whilst in heat.
Female Dog in Heat: Around Male Dogs
We have already established that when a female dog is in heat, it may affect its psychological state. However, the case doesn’t affect females solely. When a bitch is in heat, it likewise greatly affects the unneutered male dogs.
With the male dog’s heightened senses, it can usually smell female dogs in heat within the vicinity and may create a few problems such as:
- Escaping Your male dog will most likely seek out the female. It may try to dart off from open windows or doors, jump fences and find a way out in the garden.
- Marking off scent It may mark off its scent around the garden during walks and possibly in your house. This is their way of marking their territory for the unspoken battle for the female dog.
- Aggressive Behaviour It also has a tendency to be aggressive or defensive. They are driven in winning over the unspoken competition over a female dog in heat.
Want to learn more about dog’s behaviour? You might be interested in the following articles: The Smart Pet Owner’s Guide to Dog Body Language and Learn from the Mother Dog to Train Your Dog to Pee in One Spot.