How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat?

How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat?

"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, you may be asking yourself how long does a dog stay in 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 Does a Dog Stay in Heat?

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.

If you're still not sure how long does a female dog stay in heat, there are signs of a cycle ending. 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.

Understanding a dog in heat

  • Your fur-princess can only go into heat once or twice in a year as it occurs in dogs every six to twelve months. If you observe that your dog is bleeding every now and then, it might be a sign that she has pyometra (an infection of the uterus). This is a medical emergency and you should contact your vet immediately.
  • If you have a puppy, she can go in heat sooner than you expected. The earliest a dog can have her first heat cycle is at 6 months.
  • Keep your dog in heat away from males for about three to four weeks. You can confine your dog, keep her inside the house (given you have all female dogs at home, you have male dogs but they are neutered, or no other dogs at all) to avoid any unwanted breedings.
  • Once the bleeding stops, it does not mean that your female dog is already safe from all lurking males. When the bleeding stops, that is actually the prime fertility time. If you plan on breeding her, it's best to have her undergo a progesterone test after the bleeding has subsided to know what days she is most fertile.
  • If you don't plan on breeding your dog anymore or don't plan on breeding her at all, consider spaying. Spaying decreases the risks of your fur-princess from developing infections and mammary cancer.

Keeping 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 of yards to get to the girl next door.

Never let your female dog out into the backyard by herself, and, when walking her, make sure she is always on a 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 an 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 the 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. If this happens, it means additional clean up and potential infection.

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.

Support it with pee pads. Yes, pee pads are a thing. You can use pee pads as bedding to your fur-princess' bed, or crate so that if accidental leaks happen, the pad soaks up the mess and her favorite place to rest stays clean and dry.

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 a lower incidence of breast, ovarian and cervical cancers, and typically live longer.

Speak with your vet to find out more. Now when your pup goes into her first heat you won't have to frantically ask, how long does a dog's heat last? But instead, you'll be able to identify the signs and prepare all the necessary materials for a happy, healthy cycle.

Your dog's heat isn't really as bad as you think it is, especially when you are educated enough and know what to do... so that even in her heat, she's still able to live a happy and healthy life.

"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."

The Author:

Micka V.

Micka Virtudazo is a full-time content creator at Pet Parents who lives with thirteen adorable American Bullies and a Shih Tzu-Maltese mix named Gretel. She especially enjoys writing how-to articles as she feels through this she can connect to other pet parents on a more personal level.

Read More