1. What is heat?
The heat is more correctly called the estrous cycle. During this cycle, female dogs can become pregnant. It is equivalent to human menstruation.
2. What are the symptoms?
Women bleed from the vagina sometimes with swelling of the vulva and increased urination. Don’t expect bleeding comparable to that of a human female.
For small dogs, this is usually not much and you may need to pay close attention to your pup to identify his first cycle. Aside from bleeding, the most noticeable symptom may be
male dogs hanging around your house.
3. When does a dog go into heat?
The average female dog has her first cycle around six months of age. Some dogs start earlier and few dogs later, even at 14 months.
If you have a new dog, you need to keep an eye on her and observe when she has her first cycle. If she is 14 months old and has not yet been in heat, you should take her to a vet.
4. How long is the heat cycle?
The average is three weeks or 21 days. In some dogs, it lasts only two weeks, while in others it lasts four weeks.
5. How often will she be in heat?
Most female dogs have regular cycles generally every six to eight months. It is quite typical to be in heat twice a year.
6. When can you get pregnant?
You can only get pregnant when you are in heat. Some breeders
tests progesterone levels to identify the most fertile days, but the general rule of thumb is that the most fertile days are 11-15 of your cycle.
Note: when in heat, the average dog will allow any male
dog to ride her. However, few females will accept a male when
they are not in heat.
7. Can you get pregnant in your first cycle?
Yes. However, responsible breeders generally would not raise a dog that early. For one, you need to run genetic testing and some serious issues, like hip conditions, don’t show up until the dog is about 2 years old.
8. Can I take her for a walk during this cycle?
Yes, be careful. It has no problem with exercise, but it is a walking magnet for male dogs.
Even the best trained and educated bitch will succumb to hormones. You can’t trust her without a leash or out of your control. Never leave her outside alone, even in a fenced yard if there is a possibility of male dogs nearby.
For walks, if there are male dogs in your neighborhood, it is a good idea to take your dog in your car and drive to a remote area. Take her for a walk there and drive back home. Otherwise, the smell of your urine and your vaginal discharge will make a way home.
9. When can I sterilize it?
The answer to that has continually changed during the
I’ve been in the dog business for 25 years. People were told to let their dog go through at least one cycle or to have a litter.
Today, vets are doing it much earlier. Some vets spay at 6 weeks of age! Talk to your vet about your dog and the vet’s preferences. The state of veterinary medicine has also improved greatly in the last 25 years.
10. If I don’t sterilize her, will she go through menopause?
No. Your fertility may decrease but you will not go through menopause comparable to that of a human. She won’t lose her ability to get pregnant even in her senior year, so if you don’t want her to have any (or more) litters, she must be spayed.