Dogs go in heat at different times. Regular size dogs can reach sexual maturity and are receptive to mating at just six months, while larger breeds can take up to two years. Owners and breeders should never breed their dogs during its first or second heat and should wait until the third heat at around 18 to 24 months before breeding. At this time, your female dog is ready to mate and to have babies.
How often does it happen?
The menstrual cycle in female dogs is an average of six months, but this may vary, so you must learn to keep track. Some dogs can take up to two years to develop a regular cycle and may go in heat two to four times a year. Large breeds will only go in heat every 12 months.
What are the signs?
Your dog will show physical and behavioral signs that it is in heat. She may pee more than usual, and sometimes, there is a bloody discharge coming from its rear end. The vulva is also swollen.
Your dog will also be more receptive to males and may act nervously at the sight of a male. She may signal that she is ready to mate by raising her back end towards a male and placing her tail to one side. This behavior is called “flagging.” Females may even go to the point of courting male dogs, and this may be observed in the middle of her cycle until it is done.
Being in heat can last for three weeks, but sometimes it can vary from two to four weeks. This cycle starts when the vulva is swollen, and there is vaginal discharge and will end when all the bleeding stops. A female in heat will allow a male to move closer and mount her anytime during this cycle. Some females may prefer males to mount her during the final weeks of the cycle.
A female dog can go in heat through the rest of her life despite the period between going in heat may increase as the dog becomes older.
Caring for a dog in heat
- Keep your female dog inside
If you don’t want your pet to get pregnant, then it’s best to keep her indoors. Shut the doors and windows. Keep your pet entertained with her toys or buy her new ones. Playing with new toys or doing a new activity can help distract your pet from her feelings of nervousness and restlessness.
- No unsupervised walks
If your pet loves to go outside to play without your supervision, then it will likely demand it when it’s in heat. You may take it out for a walk on a leash but no unsupervised walks and playtime outdoors.
- Give it extra attention
Give your pet extra time and attention during times of heat. Sometimes a female dog may feel lethargic while some may feel restless and agitated. Select the right type of activity to make your pet more comfortable. Play with her, talk, brush, or groom your pet to ease her anxiety.
- Good hygiene is necessary
The amount of bloody discharge when the dog is in heat may vary, so pay close attention to hygiene. Although she might lick the discharge right away, a bath would help remove the smell. You may put her in dog diapers or pants. You may also cover your furniture to avoid stains.
- Watch out for changes in appetite
Dogs in heat can develop increased or decreased appetite. Check out food that’s right for female dogs during this time. Feed your pet nutritious and tasty food to encourage her to eat if she has a poor appetite.