Heat in female dogs – tips and things to know

Every owner of an unspayed bitch has to deal with the issue of heat on a regular basis. During this time, the bitch's hormones go crazy and she is ready to mate. The females need a lot of care and attention during this time. But what actually happens in the body during heat and how can you help your four-legged friend during these days? We have summarised the most important facts for you.
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What you should know about being in heat:

Heat is the name given to a phase of the female dog’s sexual cycle. This phase is often also called “heat”. For the body, it serves to prepare for a possible pregnancy.  The female dog’s heat can be divided into pre-estrus and oestrus. The pre-estrus lasts between 3 and 17 days and during this time the eggs mature in the ovary and the uterus is rebuilt so that fertilised eggs can implant. Externally, pre-estrus can be recognised by the swollen labia (vulva) and a watery, bloody discharge from the vagina. In addition, the female can already hardly save herself from male admirers.If the female dog then comes into heat, she is ready for the mating act and would let herself be covered by the male. That is why this stage of heat is also called the stall heat. Usually the vaginal discharge and the swelling of the vulva already decrease during this phase. The heat can last between 3 and 21 days – however, the exact duration cannot be predicted, because this can vary from animal to animal.

When does a female dog go into heat for the first time?

This also varies from dog to dog and is individual. However, females usually reach puberty between the 6th and 12th month of life and then also come into heat for the first time. The heavier the animal, the later puberty usually begins and with it the first heat. In very heavy and large breeds, the first heat can therefore sometimes be delayed until the 24th month of life.
If a female dog is not spayed, she comes into heat about every 7 months and unlike women, our four-legged friends do not go through the menopause. This means that female dogs can be in heat until the end of their lives, but the interval between two heatings can increase with age.

How to tell if your dog is in heat:

The changes during heat are not only external. Besides the bloody discharge from the vagina and the swollen labia, the hormonal changes also lead to a change in behaviour.  A typical behaviour that many dogs in heat display is marking on the walk. Just like males, they deposit small amounts of urine everywhere to leave scent marks. This is to inform the males in the vicinity that they will soon be ready to mate.

Female dogs in heat still react relatively “bitchy” towards other dogs, especially to the first mating attempts of pushy males. Here the reaction can sometimes be quite violent. However, this usually changes when the heat begins – in the search for males ready to mate, even the most obedient female dog often forgets her good manners. However, some females also become unusually affectionate during this time and want a lot of attention from their owners.  If the dog has not been mated, many females experience a false pregnancy after the heat. Read more about false pregnancy on fellomed.

5 tips for the heat:

  • To prevent unplanned offspring during heat, it is best to walk your dog only on a leash during this phase. This way you can always keep an eye on your four-legged friend and keep her under control. As already mentioned, the hormones of many four-legged friends during this time cause them to throw good training overboard. The female dog quickly escapes or several admirers try their luck. You can intervene quickly in such situations by using a leash and standing by your dog. Alternatively, you can also use a drag line. This way your dog has a larger radius in which she can move, but you still have control.
  • Unneutered male dogs can smell females in heat over a long distance. If you have unneutered male dogs in your neighbourhood, you should inform their owners that your dog is in heat. Often the males run away from home to look for the female.
  • To minimise unpleasant and stressful dog encounters during your dog’s heat, you should choose places and times for your walks where there are few other dogs and owners. Warn the owners of free-roaming dogs in good time so that they have the opportunity to leash or avoid the four-legged friend.
  • One of the most unpleasant things about being in heat is the bloody vaginal discharge. Most female dogs clean themselves very thoroughly during this time, but they almost always lose a drop or two of blood. With the LILA LOVES IT LAVETTES wet wash gloves you can easily support your dog in “keeping clean” – especially when out and about. To keep baskets and carpets as clean as possible, you can cover them with fitted sheets or bed linen. Both can be easily cleaned in the washing machine.
  • The heat is not only a stressful time for us owners, but also for the females in heat. Therefore, give your dog plenty of rest and relaxation phases. With its essential oils, our PILLOW SPRAY provides a calming feel-good atmosphere and helps your four-legged friend to relax more quickly in stressful situations.