Tips for Dealing with Female Dogs in Heat

Tips for Dealing with Female Dogs in Heat

Last update: 19 May, 2018

The first thing you need to know about are the phases of the process so that you can recognize when it starts and when it ends. Another important thing to know is when in the year dogs are in heat.

Every living being has a goal of reproducing and multiplying its species. Nature and instinct are undeniable, and dogs are no exception, so we’ll give you some tips for handling female dogs in heat.

When adopting a female dog, you should be aware that at least twice a year her body will begin to secrete an odor that may be imperceptible to humans but for other dogs will be irresistible.

Female dogs in heat: the stages

The time in a dog’s life when she will first go into heat will be between 6 and 18 months. It all depends on the breed, because the bigger the dog is, the more time it will take to reach sexual maturity.

The canine heat cycle is much like the human female menstrual cycle. 

Phases of the canine heat cycle

  • Proestrus: Here, changes in the dog’s behavior and bleeding begin. This stage is when a dog goes through the most hormonal changes and lasts 6 to 11 days.
  • Estrus: This is the stage in which a dog can become pregnant. In this short stage you’ll see the most behavioral changes, whether she gets more aggressive or more affectionate.
  • Diestrus: This stage depends completely on the previous one. If the dog got pregnant, this will be the last phase of the heat cycle. Otherwise, the size of the mammary glands increase. The dog will enter into a kind of false lactation that we will explain later.
  • Anestrus: This is the last real phase of the cycle if the dog is not pregnant. It is a phase of hormonal rest that lasts approximately four months. Here there are fewer hormonal ups and downs, and thus this stage is ideal for sterilization.

The amount of heat cycles or estrus phases per year is not fixed. The normal amount could be every six months or twice a year, although it may vary between one and four times a year. Now, you might wonder at what age the cycles stop. The answer is that there is no age limit; they will go through it their entire lives. 

Normally, a dog will get pregnant during the period in which she gives off the pheromones that attract males. However, even when this stage is over, there is a chance that the dog will become pregnant if the male dog is especially insistent.

Puppies and a mother dog.

Interestingly, many female dogs enter into a stage of false lactation. It happens even when they’re not pregnant, as if their brain had come to that conclusion erroneously.

Advice for dealing with female dogs in heat

  1. Spaying is recommended if you can’t guarantee that the dog won’t be mounted when she’s in heat. Today there are two different ways to sterilize an animal: physical castration and chemical castration. Both have the same result and are not dangerous.
  2. Spaying a dog is an effective measure for preventing diseases such as breast cancer and some uterine infections. Plus, in some cases it can be a good way to change your dog’s attitude.
  3. It’s dangerous for a dog to be mounted during her first heat stage, since she won’t yet be fully matured. It could end in problems at birth. In fact, the ideal time to spay a dog is before she goes into heat.
  4. It may be possible to use temporary contraceptives.
  5. False lactation is not a recurrent part of the heat cycle, although for the health of your dog it’s crucial to differentiate between when it happens and when it doesn’t. The most effective way to tell if there is false lactation is to see if there are hormonal and attitude changes in the corresponding phase.
  6. If you want your dog to get pregnant, be aware that she could have a litter with quite a lot of puppies. Try to have stable families in line to take care of the newborn puppies in order to give them a better quality of life.
  7. Caring for a dog is a huge responsibility, so we should always be one step ahead. Don’t limit your knowledge to just this short article. The best way to be prepared for anything is to have as much information as possible.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.