Tips for a Female Dog in Heat
Personality-wise there is really nothing different from a female dog and a male dog. You've got your dominant and aggressive female dogs just like you do males, and vice versa you've got your submissive and calm female dogs just like males. So when deciding if you want a male or female dog, your main concerns in terms of differences will typically be the dog's size, as females are generally smaller than males (not always but generally), and whether or not you want to get the female spayed.
Although, I personally think that unless you have the intent of breeding, you should get your dog spayed or neutered because it is overall healthier for the dog and you prevent unwanted pregnancies, but it is always up to you, the pet owner, as to what you want to do.
If you have decided upon a female dog, you'll probably want to brush up on some information about dogs coming into heat and what all a spay involves.
Commonly Asked Questions About a Female Dog's Heat Cycle
- When will my female dog have her first heat cycle?Generally, a female dog will come into her first heat sometime between the age of 6 months and 24 months.
A lot of the time when your female dog comes into her first heat will depend on the dog's breed. Typically, small dog breeds come into first heat sooner than larger dog breeds.
- How long will my dog's heat last?
Typically, heat will last an average of 18 to 24 days.
- How often with my dog go into heat?
Dogs typically go into heat once every 5-8 months, so about twice a year. Although, this will vary per dog. Smaller dogs can go into heat sooner than larger dogs.
- What are the first signs of my dog going into heat?
The first sign of your dog starting her heat cycle is a swollen vulva and bloody discharge from the vulva.
And, for the first week or so, the female dog will attract the attention of male dogs but she usually won't allow them to mount her. After the first week or so, she will actively court male dogs and will allow them to mount her. At this stage, he vulva may become slightly smaller and she may not have as much discharge or have a clear discharge instead of bloody, but she'll still be in heat and can still become pregnant.
- I thought my dog was over her heat, but she is having bloody discharge again and it's only been a few weeks?
Typically, when your dog has her first heat, it will be a "split heat" in which she will develop a swollen vulva and have bloody discharge but she won't actually ovulate (release eggs) or let male dogs mount her. But about 2 to 6 weeks later you'll probably notice that she's in heat again; this is your dog's first real full heat cycle.
- Will my elderly dog go into heat?
Older female dogs do not go through menopause, but after 7 years, your dog's heat cycle will get further and further a part.
Dealing With a Female Dog in Heat
First off, if your female dog is an indoor dog, you'll probably want to purchase a dog diaper, whether that be the dog diapers with the disposable liners or the washable dog diapers. Otherwise, you'll have blood spots all over your carpet, tiles, or wood floors. You can find the diap diapers in sizes from extra small to large, and sometimes extra large.
Next, you want to make sure that you keep your female away from male dogs, which means that if your female dog is an outdoor dog, you want to make sure that she is properly pinned and no dog can get in or out of your yard. I would actually recommend bringing the dog in the house or in an enclosed outdoor patio until her heat cycle is complete.
For indoor dogs, you want to make sure that all doors and windows are shut all the time and you keep any unneutered male dogs that you may have away from the female.
You can consider applying a little dab of menthol rub under the female's tail to disguise the heat just a little and to stop potential suitors. You can also use the menthol rub on your male dogs by putting a dab on the male's nose to make the female's scent.
Sometimes you can mask the smell by giving your female chlorophyll tablets. Just remember to ask your vet for the exact dosage before you give your dog any medicines.
Try to keep her as calm as you can, which means avoid overly strenuous play, but make sure that you still dote attention on her in a more calming manner such as brushes and massages.
And, of course consider spaying your female dog. Check out my hub Spaying Your Female Dog so that you know and understand when you should spay your dog, why you should spay your dog, the process of spaying your dog, and the risks of spaying your dog. Remember that by spaying your dog will reduce the risk of breast cancer in the future. You want to aim at before her first heat, but since you're reading this, I'm assuming your dog is already experiencing her heat cycle, so you want to shoot for after her first heat and before her second, otherwise the risks of breast cancer are the same as a dog who was never spayed at all.
If the dog is older than 2, you can still reduce severe health risks, as long as he dog is less than 5 years old. After 5, an unspayed dog has greatly increased odds of developing a uterine infection, which can be fatal if not caught early. The treatment is surgery to remove the uterus.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. If you have any questions or concerns, you should consult a veterinarian.
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