How long does the heat cycle of my dog last? How often will she be in heat? These are the common questions of dog owners - dog owners that plan to breed the dog and dog owners that want to prevent the dog from getting pregnant. The pet’s pregnancy can be a much awaited moment for the dog’s human family. Very few people can resist having lovable puppies. However, puppies, as dog owners know would be a big responsibility. This is the reason why most dog owners would not want to breed the dog. We love dogs but the number of people willing to have dogs for a pet is not enough to accommodate the over population of these lovable animals. The importance of spaying and neutering the dog can’t be stressed enough especially if possible homes cannot be found for the litter. Anyway, I am digressing.
The estrus cycle of a dog is commonly known as being in heat. This cycle that has four stages determines whether it is possible for the dog to have puppies “cooking inside its oven”. Proestrus last from 4 to 20 days. The dog will bleed and attract the attention of male dogs but as the eggs are not yet released, the female dog will not be receptive. The dog will be noticed tucking the tail between the hind legs as if guarding the vulva from being violated. The stage will be followed by estrus that lasts for 5 to 9 days. The dog is now releasing eggs ready for fertilization. The bleeding will be gone and replaced with yellowish discharge. The vulva will appear swollen and the dog will now be receptive to the male. This is the stage where the dog can get pregnant as mating will occur. Metestrus also known as diestrus is the stage that follows estrus. This stage would last from 60 to 90 days. If the mating that happened in the estrus stage has made the bitch pregnant, it will not be receptive to the attention of males as the hormones will be active for 56 to 60 days in the dog’s ovary while it is pregnant. Anestrus stage will last for 2 to 3 months. This is a period of sexual and hormonal inactivity.
The estrus cycle would have different time frames for different dogs but generally dogs would have estrus or go into heat twice a year. Dogs will usually be in heat every six months or eight months. The heat period can last from 12 to 21 days but the length of this period varies widely between individual dogs. Even dogs of the same breed would have different heat cycle. At about six months in age, the dog will have its first cycle but as with the length of the estrus cycle, the first heat cycle will vary in dogs as well. Small breeds can come into first heat as early as 5 months of age and large or giant breeds would come in to first heat as late as 14 months in age.
This information will be most helpful if the dog owner would want to breed the dog and if the owner would want to prevent the dog from getting pregnant. Obviously, if there are no plans to breed the dog, it has to be confined and prevented from meeting male dogs while it is in heat. In the same manner, owners that plan to breed the pet must make sure that the dog is mated while the pet is in the estrus stage.