The fact that dogs are our loyal companions needs no introduction. They keep our physical & mental health in check. But in order to keep us fit, they also need to be in the pink of their health.
As pet parents, we are responsible for our dog’s well being. And just like women go through menstruation (periods), female dogs also go through their menstrual cycle known as Canine Estrous Cycle. When a female dog is in her estrous stage, she is said to be in ‘heat’ or ‘season.’ This stage marks the onset of their reproductive abilities.
When does the ‘Heat Cycle’ start?
Female dogs experience their first heat cycle as soon as they reach puberty. Puberty is the sexual maturity that can be achieved somewhere between 6 to 9 months, although it varies across different breeds. Smaller breeds may reach puberty earlier as compared to larger breeds who can hit puberty as late as 18 months to 24 months.
Stages of the Heat Cycle
The heat cycle has several stages like Proestrus, Estrous, Midestrous, Metestrus, and Diestrus/Anestrous. It is during the Estrus stage that a female dog can get pregnant.
Frequency of the Heat Cycle
The frequency of the heat cycle varies in different breeds. For smaller breeds, the heat cycle can be 2 to 3 times a year. While a large breed can have just one heat cycle in a year. Initially, the cycle can be irregular but after a few cycles, it becomes normal. Also, the heat cycle season varies across breeds, meaning thereby that the breeding season varies too.
Signs of Heat Cycle/Heat Period
Look for these signs to identify whether your female dog is undergoing her periods or not -
- Swelling and engorgement of vulva
- Bloody vaginal discharge
- Frequent urination
- Sensitivity in the genital area
The amount of discharge & color varies at different stages. During the beginning, the discharge will be bloody red and as it progresses, it becomes water-like with a very thin consistency.
Duration of the Heat Cycle
The duration of the heat cycle can again vary but on average, it lasts for one and a half weeks to two weeks.
Behavioral changes during the Heat Cycle
There are going to be several behavioral changes when your female dog is undergoing the heat cycle. Some of them being as follows -
- They will become lethargic, will spend most of their time sleeping or resting
- They will start peeing more than normal
- They will project “marking behavior” by peeing in small pockets
- They may also appear to be nervous, vigilant, and distracted
- Due to hormonal changes, they would want to get closer to male dogs in order to mate
- They may become more vocal and want to hump you due to the cycle
- They may also project behavior which may come across as annoying but that’s just because of the natural urges of mating
How to take care of a female dog during the Heat Cycle
It is essential to take care of your female dog during her heat cycle as this is something natural and they have no control over it.
- Let your dog sit in a comfortable place in the house. You can confine them to that place but make sure to keep some treats and a bowl of water handy. If your dog has had prior experience with crates, then that can also be used to keep them safe & secure.
- Another more convenient solution is to purchase doggy diapers. If you are not able to find doggy diapers, extra-large baby diapers will also do the job! This will absorb all the blood and also keep your sofas and bed clean.
- Some dogs are adapted to a leash-free life but if your dog is going through her heat cycle, make sure to have her walk outside on a leash, always. During the heat cycle, your female dog will attract every dog from the locality. And no, fencing and dog proofing the house or garden will be of much help. So, to avoid unwanted pregnancy, always keep your baby girl on a leash.
- Maintain good hygienic conditions during the heat cycle. If it is possible, give your dog a good bath or keep cleaning them from time to time. After each walk, don’t forget to sanitize them using a pet sanitizer.
Diet during Heat Cycle
Keep an eye on the diet of your female dog. While the majority face a severe drop in appetite, there might be cases where there is an increase. Always consult your vet regarding the dietary needs since each dog is different. But generally, these food items must find a place in your female dog’s diet when she is in heat -
- Make sure your dog laps up a lot of liquids, be it water, chicken soup, or electrolytes as this will keep her energized.
- Fiber-rich food items like oats will keep her digestion in check.
- Offer her tasty food items. This can be anything that she likes in general.
- Fruits like blueberries will also be nutritious for her.
- Don’t forget those tasty treats. Keep in mind that treats should be healthy in order to fulfill her dietary needs.
As a pet parent, facing your baby’s first heat cycle can be nerve-wracking. But it can be an easy ride if you understand your pet’s needs. This is a natural process that is found across all females on this planet. Do not discriminate between a male & a female dog because of the heat cycle. If you don’t wish to perpetuate the heat cycle, the best option is to get your fur baby spayed. This will protect her from unwanted pregnancies, mammary gland issues, and various cancers as well.
If you need any assistance to manage your pet’s heat cycle, contact us on +91 8431620000 and our super vets will always be there to assist you! You can also call our vets home by using our Vet on Call services. This will save you the hassle of traveling with your pet. Till then, take care of your gal pal, and don’t forget those extra treats!
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