What does it mean when my dog goes into heat?

April 13, 2012

What will happen if your dog goes into heat? Noting much really! It simply means that if you let your baby girl out of your sight and she happens to exit through the back door and meet the neighbor’s he-dog, it is highly possible that your pet will surprise you with cuddly and adorable puppies after about 63 days.

When a dog is said to be in heat she is actually on her estrus cycle. This is pretty much the same as when a female gets her period. A dog that is on her estrus cycle will accept being mated and can get pregnant. A few females would allow being mounted even when they are not in heat. Generally though, female dogs will accept the attention of male dogs only when they are in their estrus cycle. Don’t be alarmed if you see the dog bleeding or if you see the dog’s bed stained with blood. Just like menstruation, the dog will bleed from the vagina. The bleeding though would not be as heavy as the bleeding of menstruating humans. Increased urination and swelling of the vulva are the other signs that the dog is in heat. The most obvious sign that the dog is in heat are the male dogs that are hanging around. If your pet is in heat, she would be waving an invisible flag that will let male dogs in the area know that she is available. Dogs are known for their highly sensitive scenting abilities so that the scent of a female dog in heat will serve as an invitation to male dogs in the vicinity.

The estrus cycle will vary from dog to dog. A dog can come into first heat as early as 6 months of age and as late as 14 months of age. The estrus cycle is commonly a twice a year process. The period of the estrus cycle will vary from dog to dog as well. In some dogs, the cycle can last for 2 weeks. Other dogs would have longer periods that last for 4 weeks. The average period of an estrus cycle is 3 weeks. So when is the dog most fertile?

The estrus cycle has four stages – proestrus, estrus, metestrus and diestrus. Proestrus is the first stage of the heat cycle. This period will usually last for about 20 days. Male dogs will hang around but the female would not be interested. It is during this time the dog would have bloody discharge. At this stage, the follicles that will produce the ova would start growing. Mating will take place in the second stage which is the estrus stage as the female dog will now be sexually receptive. By this time the vulva would have swollen. Instead of blood, the dog would have a yellowish or a straw colored discharge. A dog will be in the estrus stage for 5 to 9 days although some individual’s estrus would last for 28 days. Twenty four hours after a male is accepted, the female dog would start to ovulate. Metestrus is the stage that follows estrus. This period will last for 60 to 90 days. If the dog was mated the pregnancy that will last from 60 to 63 days will fall in this period. The fourth stage of the estrus cycle is the diestrus. This stage signifies the end of the dog’s fertile period. These four stages will be followed by the anestrus phase where the dog’s estrus cycle will rest. Anestrus is the transition period. This period of sexual inactivity generally lasts for two to three months after which the estrus cycle will begin again.

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