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How Female Dog’s Heat Cycle Works

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The Female dog’s heat cycle, also known as the estrous/menstrual cycle, is the reproductive cycle that prepares the female dog’s body for a potential pregnancy. Also, the heat (estrous) cycle in dogs differs from the menstrual cycle in humans because dogs do not menstruate. Unlike humans, it has four stages which show different signs in particular stages.

At what age does a female dog’s heat cycle start?

The dog’s heat cycle duration can change according to the individual dog’s health and dog breed.

Generally, the first heat takes place six months to eight months, but it can differ from the dog breed. You can also wait for 12 months for the first heat. If it takes too much time than usual, then it is better to consult your veterinarian for more information.

How often do dogs have heat?

After the first heat, the dog’s heat cycle will continue every six months. But it can differ from dog to dog and some female dogs experienced irregular heat cycles as well. So it is better to track her heat cycle dates to be ready for the next heat.

Stages of the dog’s heat cycle

Stage 1 – Proestrus

This is the first stage of a dog’s heat cycle. Here the reproductive system begins to change for mating and pregnancy. For that, the estrogen level in dogs starts to rise. Also, ovaries start to develop and release eggs.

How many days does the Proestrus stage last long?

This stage last long for approximately 9 days but the range can be between 3–17 days. This can be changed according to dog breeds and health conditions. You can see the bloody vaginal discharge of your female dog during this period.

Furthermore, in this stage, female dogs can be more aggressive towards male dogs and not receptive to them. But male dogs can be attractive to female dogs.

Stage 2 -Estrus

This stage lasts for approximately   5 – 9 days, during which the female dog is receptive to male dogs and fertile. The estrogen level peeks off and allowed eggs to be released. Her vaginal discharge becomes lighter and eventually stops. This is the best time to mate for a potential pregnancy. The first three weeks are crucial to avoid unplanned pregnancy in your dog.

Stage 3 – Diestrus

This stage lasts for approximately 60 days if the female dog becomes pregnant, or 90 days if she does not. If she is pregnant, the gestation period will follow this stage. Similarly, if your dog is not pregnant, she may go through “Pseudo Pregnancy,” also known as False pregnancy.

Stage 4 – Anestrus

This is a resting period of the dog’s heat cycle that lasts for approximately 3-4 months until the cycle begins again.

What are the Female dog’s period symptoms?

  1. Swollen vulva: Swelling of the dog’s vulva, which can be found under the tail, is one of the most visible symptoms.
  2. Vaginal Bleeding: During the heat cycle, female dogs usually have vaginal bleeding. The discharge can vary in color from light pink to dark red.
  3. Frequent urination: Throughout the dog’s heat cycle, many female dogs often urinate more than usual.
  4. Excessive licking: Hormonal changes and discharge can make dogs uncomfortable, which leads to frequent licking of their genital area.
  5. Behavioral changes: Female dogs in heat may become restless and whine excessively. Besides, they may become more affectionate or even violent in some circumstances.
  6. Attracting male dogs: The smell of pheromones that release during the dog’s heat cycle can attract male dogs from a distance.

What are the best dates for female dog mating?

To find the best date for breeding a female dog, factors like her heat cycle, signs of receptivity, and ovulation timing must be considered.

Female dogs are most receptive to male dogs during their heat cycle, which lasts for about 9 days and usually starts 5-9 days after the cycle begins. During this stage, the female dog’s vulva becomes swollen and she may have a lighter discharge.

Wait for 4-6 days after the start of estrus to increase the chances of successful mating and pregnancy. This is when ovulation typically happens.

If you are confused, then a veterinarian can perform tests to help determine the best timing for mating based on the female dog’s hormone levels.

Do Male dogs have a heat cycle?

No, male dogs do not have a heat cycle like female dogs. Once they sexually mature, they can breed anytime. Also, male dogs produce sperm continually, but they get attracted to the female dog’s hormone smell.

What do you need to care about your dog’s mating?

It should be noted that breeding is done under the supervision of a veterinarian or an experienced breeder. If not, there is a high chance of having potential risks and complications associated with mating and pregnancy in dogs.

It is good to bathe your dog during the heat?

No, it is not a good choice to bathe your dog when she is in her heat (period).

Here are a few reasons why you should avoid bathing during the dog’s heat cycle:

  1. Stress and discomfort: Because of hormone changes and potential mating-related behaviors, your dog may already be experiencing some discomfort and stress during this period. So bathing can add more stress and make them more anxious.
  2. Infection risk: During the estrus stage, the cervix becomes slightly open and this may increase the risk of infection. Therefore, bathing could open the vaginal area to water that may cause infection.
  3. Natural cleaning: Usually, female dogs keep themselves clean during their heat cycle. Since they face vaginal discharge from the beginning, they groom themselves to maintain hygiene.
  4. Avoid spreading scent: During the heat cycle, female dogs release pheromones that signal their fertility to male dogs. But bathing could potentially remove these natural scents which attract male dogs. Even so, this is not advisable if you want to avoid attracting unwanted attention from male dogs.

Instead of bathing, it’s essential to maintain your dog’s hygiene during this time. Therefore, you can gently wipe her genital area with a clean, slightly wet cloth if necessary. Also, ensure that she has a clean environment.  Moreover, provide her with extra comfort and attention during this sensitive period.

How to take care of your dog during the heat cycle?

Here are some essential tips to take care of your female dog during her heat cycle.

1. Isolate from male dogs: To prevent unplanned pregnancy, keep your female dog away from male dogs for the period of her heat cycle, which lasts about three weeks.

2. Protect your yard and home: Her pheromone is like an invitation to male dogs. So make sure your yard and home are protected from these male dogs.

3. Keep her indoors during walks: It is better to limit her to indoor walks. If not, while bringing her for the walks, put her on a leash and keep her away from areas where male dogs are present.

5. Maintain hygiene: During the dog’s heat cycle, you can gently wipe her genital area with a clean, damp cloth as needed to keep her clean. Also, pay attention if there are any bad smells from her vaginal discharge.

6. Avoid bathing: As mentioned earlier, it’s recommended not to bathe your dog during her heat cycle, as it can cause stress and increase the risk of infection.

7. Provide comfort: Your dog may experience some discomfort and behavioral changes during her heat cycle. Provide her with extra comfort, attention, and patience during this time.

8. Use doggy diapers or sanitary pads: Doggy diapers or sanitary pads designed for dogs can help manage any discharge and keep her surroundings clean.

9. Offer distractions: To keep her mind occupied and reduce restlessness, provide her with toys and activities she enjoys.

10. Spaying: If you do not intend to breed your dog, then it is the best choice to spay her. Spaying has benefits, such as preventing reproductive disorders and unplanned births.

11. Get advice from your veterinarian: If you have any worries about your dog’s health or behavior during her heat cycle, don’t hesitate to seek advice from your veterinarian.

You can keep your female dog safe, happy, and well-cared for during her heat cycle if you follow these guidelines.

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