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If you’ve ever had an unspayed female dog in your home before, chances are you bought mountains of doggy diapers. Unlike cats, dogs experience more discharge during their heat cycle, or estrus phase, but that is only one of the signs indicating your pooch is ready to mate. Having an unspayed dog—especially if you also have an intact male dog—in your home can be a challenge, but knowing what to expect can help prevent problems from arising.

By Melissa Murray Reviewed by Jennifer Coates If you’ve ever had an unspayed female dog in your home before, chances are you bought mountains of doggy diapers. With clues gleaned from your female dog’s physical appearance and behavior, you can determine which stage of her heat cycle she is experiencing. Signs seen during this phase include a swollen vulva, blood-tinged discharge, excessive licking of the genital area, clingy behavior, and aggression toward male dogs. Diestrus: This phase occurs directly after the “in heat” stage and allows your dog’s body to either return to normal or develop into pregnancy. Although your dog may have excellent obedience skills, her recall ability may fall by the wayside when she’s influenced by her hormones and is intent on finding a male. If the unthinkable happens and your dog escapes from your yard or runs off, ensure you can be reunited with legible, updated ID tags and current microchip contact info. Occasionally, a female dog can experience health issues after a heat cycle when the uterine lining remains thickened and produces more fluid, creating the ideal environment for bacterial growth. A pet with a pyometra may drink excessively, have a fever, vaginal discharge, decreased appetite, or appear lethargic.

What are the signs that your dog is going into heat?

3 Some females will have irregular cycles, especially if they are very young or very old. Small breeds may cycle three times per year, while giant breeds may only cycle once every 12 months. Unlike some other species, canine estrous cycles are not dependent on the seasons, sunlight, or temperature.

What are the 4 stages of a dog in heat?

The canine estrous (reproductive) cycle is made up of 4 different stages. These are proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus.

What does the discharge look like when a dog is in heat?

At first, the discharge is very bloody, but as the days pass, it thins to become watery and pinkish-red in color. A female dog that is in heat will often urinate more frequently than normal, or may develop marking behavior, in which she urinates small amounts on various objects either in the home or when out on a walk.

Is a dog in heat when she is bleeding?

However, the most obvious recognizable sign of heat in dogs is vaginal bleeding. This may not become apparent until a few days after the female has come into estrus. Some female dogs experience heavy vaginal bleeding during estrus, while other dogs have minimal bleeding. If you are concerned, consult your veterinarian.

You know when a dog’s heat is over if all of the signs of being in heat are absent and when she has completely lost all interest in male dogs. You can also test her by scratching your dog’s lower back end to see if she reacts by flagging her tail, or by pushing back. If not, this is a good sign to tell when your dog is out of her heat cycle.

During this time, if you are unsure whether your bitch has been bred, you should take her in for an ultrasound exam to confirm her pregnancy . A reliable method is by observing her symptoms and there are some signs that let you know your dog is no longer in heat. This exam will test for any cytologic changes in the heat phases by checking for changes in the blood concentrations in her estrogen. The ability to tell whether a dog is out of her heat is an important factor in maintaining her health and avoiding complications. having to avoid contact with male dogs, dealing with the stresses of her fluctuating hormones, and other heat symptoms such as blood drops. In the second phase of a bitch’s heat cycle, the estrus stage , female dogs will begin to show more interest in mating. When a bitch is in the estrus stage and starts to display the signs of interest in mating, you notice a rise in agitation and nervousness:

This article was co-authored by Jamie Freyer, DVM. Dr. Jamie Freyer is a Licensed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine based in Washington. With over ten years of experience in clinical practice and industry, she specializes in veterinary medicine and surgery, animal behavior, and animal genetics. Dr. Freyer holds a BS in Life Science from The University of Portland and a DVM from Oregon State University.

Article SummaryX To tell if your dog is in heat, look for swelling of its vulva or vaginal bleeding, which are both early signs. Also, note any strange behavior that your dog is exhibiting, like increased barking, nervousness, or agitation, since dogs that are in heat will often act differently than they usually do. If you notice your dog attempting to mount other dogs more frequently, or if you notice its tail curled to one side, it could mean that it’s in heat. To learn how to have your dog tested by a vet to determine if it’s in heat, scroll down! Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 608,129 times.

The first estrus generally occurs when an unspayed female dog is between 6 and 24 months old. It tends to occur earlier for small-breed dogs and later for large-breed dogs.

You’ll most probably notice changes in her behavior, this is caused by a shift in hormone balance. The best way to spot the beginning of a dog heat cycle is the swelling of the vulva. Sometimes a female dog will become more affectionate and clingy with her owner, but other times she may seem grumpy. Changes in Appetite During this first week, she may get even hungrier, hence you might want to increase its food portion. Whatever the change is, taking note of it can be a significant clue that the heat cycle has begun. Typically the bleeding is light during the first few days when it comes to mid-week, it grows a bit heavier Flirting She will be inviting the male by turning her rear toward him and holding the tail high and out of the way. This stage can last from 60-90 days, at this point, the dog is no longer fertile. If the dog has been impregnated, the diestrus stage lasts from the end of the estrus until the birth of the puppies. However, sperm can survive for 1 week and be capable of fertilizing the eggs, so it’s possible for her to get pregnant while she is in estrus. Spayed is the most highly recommended way to prevent estrus and pregnancy, not only that but to protect her against breast cancer and disease of the reproductive system. You may spay your dog as young as 2 months old, but it is best to consult with your veterinarian for specific recommendations. There are mismating injections within the first to two days after mating, but there are risks that you will need to discuss it with your veterinarian. Although veterinarians used to recommend spaying your dog as young as 4 months old to ensure she never experienced a heat cycle to prevent mammary cancer.

When Should I Expect My Dog’s First Heat?

The age of a dog’s first heat cycle varies greatly between breeds. Toy breeds can come into heat for the first time as young as four months, while large and giant breeds may be as old as two years before experiencing a first heat cycle. On average, most dogs will have their first heat cycle between six and 15 months of age.

What are the Four Stages of the Canine Heat Cycle?

The more aware you are of your dog’s cycle, the more prepared you will be for any physical and behavioral changes that may occur during her heat. During each phase of her heat cycle, you will notice different changes, and they may include the following seven signs:With clues gleaned from your female dog’s physical appearance and behavior, you can determine which stage of her heat cycle she is experiencing.

How Often Will My Dog Go into Heat?

Dogs have an average of two heat cycles per year, roughly six months apart. Some females will have irregular cycles, especially if they are very young or very old. Small breeds may cycle three times per year, while giant breeds may only cycle once every 12 months. Unlike some other species, canine estrous cycles are not dependent on the seasons, sunlight, or temperature.

Vaginal Cytology

The only sure way to tell if your dog has gone out of heat is through theThese exams, although accurate, are rarely needed to test if a dog’s heat is over. A dog’s heat cycle usually follows a consistent pattern that is cohesive in understanding whether she is nearing the end of her heat cycle.

Lack of Interest in Other Males

The ability to tell whether a dog is out of her heat is an important factor in maintaining her health and avoiding complications. During theOne thing most dog breeders try to avoid is

Check the Calendar

Bitches go through three different phases in their heat cycle and she will be in heat for approximately 21 days or three weeks.Make sure you keep track of the days throughout her cycle. Mark these down on a calendar if necessary. This can vary depending on whether it is her first heat cycle. It will also depend on her age as well as her overall health. Be aware of theFor example, take notice in the first nine days of any swelling of the vulva and a bloody discharge. This will mark her

Warnings

When does a dog experience her first estrus?

The first estrus generally occurs when an unspayed female dog is between 6 and 24 months old. It tends to occur earlier for small-breed dogs and later for large-breed dogs.

How often do dogs go into heat?

It depends on your dog’s breed, as it varies with different breeds and individual dogs, an unspayed female usually goes into heat twice yearly, about every six months.

How long does a dog stay in heat?

The time during which male dogs are attracted to a female dog is variable, approximately 18 days. Females are receptive to males for only half of this time.

How can you tell if your dog is in heat?

When your dog is in heat, it will appear nervous, easily distracted, and more alert. She may urinate more often than she normally does. You’ll most probably notice changes in her behavior, this is caused by a shift in hormone balance. When a female dog is ready to breed, she may initiate sexual interactions with other dogs.At first, vaginal discharge is blood-tinged and the vulva is swollen. When the female is receptive to males, vaginal discharge decreases and is straw-colored.

4 stages of the dog heat cycle

Proestrus stage

The first stage of the heat cycle is called proestrus. It can last from 3 to17 days, but many dogs experience about 9 days in proestrus. The best way to spot the beginning of a dog heat cycle is the swelling of the vulva. You may notice the following symptoms during this stage:

Changes in Personality

Changes can range from mild to more severe. Sometimes a female dog will become more affectionate and clingy with her owner, but other times she may seem grumpy.

Changes in Appetite

During this first week, she may get even hungrier, hence you might want to increase its food portion. Whatever the change is, taking note of it can be a significant clue that the heat cycle has begun.

Tail Tucking

It is a reaction to guard the vulva, either by tucking the tail between the leg or sitting down whenever another dog approaches.

Swelling Vulva

The amount of vulva swelling varies. Some dogs swell just a bit, while others swell quite a lot. Typically the bleeding is light during the first few days when it comes to mid-week, it grows a bit heavier

Estrus stage

It typically lasts from 3-21 days and lasts 9 days on average. This is the time your dog is fertile and the ovaries begin to release eggs for fertilization. The female dog will be willing to accept the male’s company, she might try to be outside more often than normal. During this period, her symptoms include:

Lightened discharge:

Previously, it is bright red, the discharge now lightens to be pink-ish.

Softening of the vulva

Initial swelling subsides just enough to make the vulva soften enough for penetration.

Flirting

She will be inviting the male by turning her rear toward him and holding the tail high and out of the way. If there’s no male dog next to her, she might find a way to leave the house.

Diestrus stage

The Diestrus stage is towards the end of the heat cycle. This stage can last from 60-90 days, at this point, the dog is no longer fertile. If the dog has been impregnated, the diestrus stage lasts from the end of the estrus until the birth of the puppies. Here are the signs :

Gradual disappearance of vulva swelling

Most of the swelling is gone at this stage, but the vulva may remain slightly large.

Less flirting

Put aside whether she is pregnant or not, the dog now lacks the “mood” to mate and is no longer interested in flirting.

Anestrus stage

Anestrus is the final stage of the dog heat cycle. This is the longest phase throughout the whole cycle, from 100-150 days, at the end of which the entire heat cycle starts again.

At what stage of the estrus cycle is the dog able to pregnant?

The female dog usually ovulates at the time where the vaginal discharge becomes watery; this marks her most fertile stage and is the time where she will be most receptive to breeding. However, sperm can survive for 1 week and be capable of fertilizing the eggs, so it’s possible for her to get pregnant while she is in estrus.

How can you prevent your dog from going into heat?

Spayed is the most highly recommended way to prevent estrus and pregnancy, not only that but to protect her against breast cancer and disease of the reproductive system. You may spay your dog as young as 2 months old, but it is best to consult with your veterinarian for specific recommendations.

What if your dog has been mismated, or accidentally mates with another dog?

You will need to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. There are mismating injections within the first to two days after mating, but there are risks that you will need to discuss it with your veterinarian.

At what age should I spay my dog?

Although veterinarians used to recommend spaying your dog as young as 4 months old to ensure she never experienced a heat cycle to prevent mammary cancer. You should discuss any health concerns with your veterinarians before discussing what age is appropriate to spay your dog.If you think that your dog is sick, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible, as they have examined your pet, know your pet’s history, hence they can make the best recommendations for your pet.

Does a dog go through a menopause?

No, dogs do not go through menopause like humans. Dogs that have not been spayed will continue to have heat cycles and therefore bleed once a twice a year, or their entire lives unless they are pregnant or get spayed.