If you own a female puppy, one of the things that you have to prepare for is her menstrual cycle. Yes, female dogs have menstrual cycles too. But unlike humans, they only go through 2 menstrual cycles per year, usually every 6 months. Unsprayed dogs usually go into “heat” or estrus stage between 6 to 24 months of age. But how long does dog heat last?
Depending on the breed and the individual dog, dog heat can last for up to 18-24 days. Generally speaking, smaller dogs go into estrus earlier than larger dogs. A female dog’s cycle has 4 stages, namely the:
1. Bleeding Stage (Proestrus)
It lasts for 4-20 days.
From the name itself, you will notice blood-tinged vaginal discharges. Your dog may exhibit irritation, frequent urination, alertness, nervousness, is more clingy than usual and may be seen to be frequently licking her vulva. This is a normal manifestation of hormonal changes in her body. Be patient with your dog during this stage as you will need to clean up after her especially if she’s staying indoors with you.
During the bleeding stage, female dogs do not show interest in breeding. But this is not to say that it’s the same thing for the males. Attraction starts at this stage so don’t be surprised if you see them hanging around your lawn or porch.
2. Mating Stage (Estrus)
It lasts for 5 – 13 days.
She will have a swollen vulva and her vaginal discharges will change from red to bright pink to yellowish.
There’s an interest and willingness to breed with any male dog in the neighborhood at this stage. And of course, all your neighbors’ dogs will congregate outside your house waiting for their princess to come out. If you’re not ready for her to breed yet, make sure that you secure her inside. Put her inside a crate or secure every opening of your home to prevent her from escaping.
3. Metestrus Stage
Whether or not she mates during the Estrus stage, Metestrus will follow. By this time, “dog heat” is about to end. Male dogs will still continue to congregate outside of your house and vie for her attention but she will no longer be interested. It could last for up to 7 – 10 days before she completely goes out of heat for 60 to 90 days.
However, if copulation was successful, pregnancy could last for up to 60 to 64 days. And remember that she can be pregnant with mixed litters too. Yep, it happens.
Sometimes, dogs may exhibit signs and symptoms of pregnancy. This is due to the thickening of her uterine walls. Some dogs even exhibit enlarged mammary glands and produce milk in the process but will soon go away.
4. Anestrus Stage
It lasts for 2-3 months.
“An”, which means absence, signifies that this is a period of inactivity, both hormonal and sexual until her next proestrus stage.
Knowing your dog’s menstrual cycle could help you prepare her needs when she goes into “dog heat” stage again. If you’re not good with tracking days and numbers, you need to observe for signs and symptoms unique to each stage. Dogs are typically discouraged to mate at a young age, since their bodies may not be able to handle the stress of pregnancy, birth and raising pups. It could take a toll on her health and her litter’s too.
You can have her sprayed to prevent pregnancy and reproductive diseases. According to webmd.com, your veterinarian could spray your dog at an early age of 2 months. However, each dog is special and has its own special needs. It’s best to talk it out with your vet first so he, or she, could give appropriate recommendations for your pet.