"Smaller breeds tend to go into heat for the first time around six months of age, while larger dogs can be two years old before they come into heat."
Puberty or sexual maturity in female dogs kicks in at different times, depending on the size of the breed. Smaller breeds tend to go into heat for the first time around six months of age, while larger dogs can be two years old before they come into heat.
If your dog has just come into heat, here are some things you should know to help both of you get through it.
Signs of Heat
- Her vulva will become swollen (up to four times its regular size) and you will most likely notice your dog licking the area often.
- You may notice your dog has become more affectionate with you and seeks your attention more.
- She may also give more attention than usual to male dogs.
- She will get her period and bleed. Yes, female dogs do this, too.
- She may attempt to mount other dogs.
How Long Will it Last?
Like people, all dogs are individuals and their heat cycles will vary. Having said that, cycles typically last between two and four weeks. How often do dogs go into heat? Most females will go into heat twice a year. However, certain breeds, like the Rhodesian ridgeback and the Basenji, only go into heat once a year. It’s a good idea to speak with your veterinarian about your dog so you know what to expect.
You know the heat cycle is starting to taper off when the specific heat behaviors lessen and your dog’s discharge turns from red blood to clear fluid.
How to Keep Your Dog Safe, Comfortable and Healthy During Heat
During heat, it’s important that you give your dog extra love and attention. Here are some things you’ll want to do:
Keep the Boys Away
If you want to prevent pregnancy, it’s important to keep intact males away. Males can smell a female in heat from miles away and, if left to their own devices, they will do whatever it takes to get to her and breed. Intact male dogs have even been known to jump and scale the fences in their back yard, then jump or scale fences to get into the bitches’ back yard.
Never let your female dog out into the backyard by herself, and, when walking her, make sure she is always on lead.
Pay Attention to Her Energy Levels
Many females in heat will not be as active as usual. This is normal. This doesn’t mean, however, that your dog shouldn’t get any exercise for those two to four weeks. Continue to play with your dog and take her for walks, paying attention to her energy levels. If you normally walk for a half hour in the morning but notice she is dragging after 10 minutes, then cut your walks shorter during her cycle.
Keep Her Groomed
Depending on breed, many dogs will need to be groomed while in heat, with a focus on the fur surrounding the private parts, so that bloody discharge doesn't dry in her fur.
Get Some Doggie Diapers
There’s no pretty way to say this…
While in heat, your dog will bleed everywhere. This means blood can and will get on your carpet and furniture.
Pet Parents® doggie diapers are a perfect solution to keep your house clean and your sanity intact. Our machine washable doggie diapers come in many different sizes and colors so you’re sure to find a solution that fits just right.
Consider Spaying Your Dog
Unless you are a professional breeder or dog shower, consider spaying your dog so she cannot reproduce. Spaying is not only a great way to control the homeless pet population, but it’s also how you can keep your dog healthy and prevent various forms of tumors and cancer from developing. Spayed female dogs show lower incidence of breast, ovarian and cervical cancers, and typically live longer.
Speak with your vet to find out more.
"Spaying is not only a great way to control the homeless pet population, but it’s also how you can keep your dog healthy and prevent various forms of tumors and cancer from developing."