My dog is in heat

You have adopted a bitch and you don't really know how her heat will go? You have a bitch in heat and you don't really know how to manage this situation? This article is for you!

But first of all, before managing a situation, you have to understand it. So I propose you a zoom on the heat of the bitches and how it can influence their behavior and their health.


The first heat of a bitch: their appearance

The first heat of a bitch is usually declared around puberty. However, for each breed and each bitch, the precise date will vary according to the physiological evolution of each one.

Nevertheless, we can estimate ranges according to the size:

- Small size: between 5 and 6 months
- Medium size: between 6 and 8 months
- Large size: between 12 and 15 months
- Giant size: between 18 and 24 months

Be aware that you may not even notice your dog's first heat, it can be very discreet.





The heat of a bitch: their frequency

On average, a bitch will come into heat cyclically twice a year with an average interval of 5 to 7 months.

There are some individual variables for some breeds, especially the primitive breeds, this interval can be up to 12 months. These bitches will have their heat only once a year.

For example, Rottweilers or German Shepherd bitches will have a smaller interval (every 4 to 5 months) than Labrador or Collie bitches (every 8 to 9 months).

This interval will vary according to the breed of the bitch, but it can also vary according to the climate, possible medication treatments or the presence of other bitches in the social group.

The most important thing about the frequency is the regularity between each heat period. It doesn't matter if the interval is 4 or 12 months, the important thing is that the interval is regular. If you observe any irregularity in this respect, do not hesitate to consult a veterinarian.


Heat: the cycle

The sexual cycle of a bitch is composed of 4 phases:

• The "pro-oestrus" phase: which corresponds to the beginning of heat (which lasts on average about ten days) but it is not rare that this period lasts from 3 to 20 days according to each individual. During this period, the smell of urine and vaginal pheromones will attract the whole male dog. However, during this pro-oestrus period, the female will refuse to breed. The discharge will be very abundant and the vulva swollen.

• The "oestrus" phase: which corresponds to the period during which the bitch will ovulate. The bitch will be fertile two to three days after ovulation (ovulation can take 12 to 48 hours) and this for (on average) 7 days. The discharge will be lighter and lighter and the vulva will still be swollen.

• The "metoestrus" or "dioestrus" phase: which corresponds to the gestation period of the bitch. This period lasts on average 63 days (between 57 and 65 days depending on the bitch). The vulva is less and less swollen and the losses stop progressively.

• The "anoestrus" phase: which corresponds to the sexual rest, very important to optimize the reproductive functions of the bitch. This period can last between 2 and 10 months but on average, a sexual rest lasts between 4 and 5 months.

Your bitch will go into heat during the first two phases of her cycle (pro-estrus and estrus). The heat of a bitch will last on average 3 weeks. The bitch will not accept a male during the beginning of her heat. You will also notice that a bitch, even in her "good phase" of reproduction, will be able to refuse a male, this is not systematic.

When your bitch is in heat, her behavior may change. This will vary from bitch to bitch, but in general, she will either be much more clingy than usual, or on the contrary, she will be more defensive or even aggressive.




Heat: how to avoid an unwanted pregnancy?

Whether you are a breeder or a private individual, it is perfectly legitimate not to want your bitch to be pregnant at each cycle.

Not wanting your bitch to get pregnant is one thing, but being sure that an unwanted pregnancy does not occur is another. Indeed, you are not safe from the possibility that your bitch will run away to join a male or that a male will come to meet her when your back is turned, etc.

In addition, you should know that there are what are called silent heats, and as the name implies, they are silent and leave no trace (or very little). You can then find yourself with a bitch in full gestation without having seen it coming.

Here are the solutions available to you to prevent a possible unwanted pregnancy:

• Surgical sterilization: which will completely eliminate the heat of your bitch. She will not be able to reproduce anymore since the operation consists in removing the reproductive system (either the ovaries only or the uterus and the ovaries).
• Temporary sterilization: which will control and secure the reproductive periods through a pill or an injection but without completely removing the reproductive functions.



Finally, here are a few tips to make this period the least restrictive for you:

- Always supervise your dog, even when she is in the yard.

- Take her out in areas not frequented by other dogs.

- Don't let her wander.

- For discharge, you can easily clean it up with saline.

- To avoid constant cleaning: offer your dog a washable, adjustable diaper or panty that can be fitted with appropriate sanitary napkins.