How long is a dog in heat? This is probably one of the most popular question posed by all those pet owners who have their female pet dogs going into heat for the first time. Well, for all those pet owners who are confused by the erratic behavior of their dogs and do not know what to do with dogs in heat, here is information on the dog heat cycle and symptoms of your dog being in heat.
Dog Heat Cycle: How Long is a Dog in Heat?
Female dogs which have not been spayed enter the heat or the estrus cycle which lasts for around 21 days. This period marks the time when the sexual receptivity of the dog is high. Based on the breed and the size of the dogs, the start of the estrus cycle and duration may vary greatly. However, in general, dogs undergo their first heat cycles when they are aged six to twelve months. Usually smaller dog breeds have heat cycles when they are five months old as opposed to the larger breeds who may not have it till they are around twelve months old.
The heat cycle of a dog is divided into four stages. These are classified as proestrus, estrus, diestrus (also called metestrus) and anestrus.
Proestrus Phase: Lasting around five to twenty days, this phase of the heat cycle is the time when the dog is menstruating. During this phase the dog has bright red discharge which becomes lighter as the days go on. Since this is the phase that you would find the male dogs swarming the place, your dog would be shying around other dogs and have her tail tucked under the swollen uvula. This is accompanied by a lack of appetite and an increase in urination.
Estrus Phase: The estrus cycle in dogs lasts for around four to twenty days. This is the time when she is ready to mate and is thus more receptive to the male dogs. Most of the time, you would find your dog rubbing her rear end on walls, fences and other objects.
Diestrus/ Metestrus Phase: If the dog has mated successfully, then during this phase the fertilized eggs attach to the uterine wall. This phase then stretches on to around sixty days of pregnancy in dogs. If the eggs are not fertilized then after four to fourteen days, the female will quickly enter the anestrus phase. However keep in mind that during this phase the dog may display symptoms of false pregnancy, such as enlarged mammary glands and milk production.
Anestrus Phase: The end of the heat cycle or the period between two cycles lasts for around five to six months.
Dog Heat Symptoms
It is difficult for people to make out if their dog is in heat. Certain symptoms such as increased urination, swollen uvula and menstrual bleeding are some of the signs of female dogs in heat. If you find male dogs lurking around the place and following her all the time then it is a sure sign that your dog is now in heat.
Proper dog care and understanding how long is a dog in heat is essential for the safety and well-being of your dog during this stage. While most people find it bothersome, handling female dogs in heat is easy when you know what to do. This includes not letting her out of the house alone and ensuring that you have her on leash when you take her out for walks. It is important that you understand that even the most obedient dogs will try to run away and mate during this phase. Spaying or neutering the dog is a good idea and it can help avoid a number of dog health problems such as mammary tumors and uterine cancer. If you plan to mate her, then consult the veterinarian for proper breeding options.