How Long Does A Female Dog Period Last?

We love our dogs, but something that is often overlooked in female dogs is their heat cycle.

When we say heat cycle, we mean the time from when they are first seen displaying signs of being sexually receptive (in other words, during estrus) until it ends, and they return to their normal state.

The average length of this cycle can vary depending on several factors including breed, age, lifestyle, diet, etc.

How Long Does A Female Dog Period Last?

It can be an unpleasant time for both owners and dogs, and there are many things that should be considered.

Here, we are going to go through everything you need to know about your dog’s heat cycle. Ready to learn a few things? Let’s go.

All About A Dog’s Heat Cycle

What is it?

When a female dog, or bitch, goes into heat, she will have an enlarged vulva, swollen nipples and her coat may become duller than usual.

She may also exhibit other signs of being “in heat” such as urinating more frequently and/or licking herself excessively. The hormone that causes this change in a dog’s body is called progesterone.

This hormone is made by the ovaries and is produced throughout most of a dog’s life. It controls the lining of the uterus as well as the growth and development of eggs inside the ovary before they mature and are released.

In a non-pregnant animal, progesterone levels rise during times when females have babies, usually about once every year.

If a pregnant dog has puppies, progesterone rises again after delivery but doesn’t drop until about five weeks later. That’s why dogs who give birth often don’t go into their heat for at least one month.

You can tell if your dog is in heat by paying close attention to her behavior. During this time, your dog may lick herself constantly or go outside to sniff around with no apparent reason.

She’ll be less social, wanting to keep to herself; she might even start eating too much and gaining weight.

Puppies born with this problem are said to be “heat-shy”. As these hormones decrease, so does the chance of becoming pregnant. Some females rarely go into heat, while others continue to cycle regularly throughout their lives.

If you want to breed your pet, you should wait at least six months before trying to mate your dog, and you shouldn’t think of breeding her just because she seems to be going into heat.

How You Can Spot it

You might be able to tell if your dog is in heat if you notice any of the following:

  • She is hyperactive, aggressive or nervous.
  • Her urine smells different from normal.
  • She becomes more interested in food and drink.
  • She starts urinating more.
  • She acts differently toward strange people and animals (i.e., growls at them).
  • She stops eating properly.
  • She begins scratching or biting herself.
  • Her tail droops.
  • Her coat changes color.
  • She has abnormal behaviors.

Other Signs Of Heat

Your dog’s vulva can get larger and wider. Her nipples will swell and darken. Normally, only the clitoris gets big, but sometimes the labia (the lips) enlarge. Her coat can lose its softness.

It’s best to watch for symptoms like these when your pet is not in heat, though there are some warning signs that indicate your dog could be entering heat. When you see a few of these, take note and plan ahead.

A few things you might notice when your dog is going into heat may include:

  • Your dog likes to hide under furniture or behind objects.
  • She eats little and sleeps a lot.
  • She is restless, pacing back and forth on the floor.
  • She wants to sleep all day long.
  • She licks, bites, scratches, or rubs herself excessively.
  • Her nails begin to break.
  • She begins to eat raw meat.
  • She wants to play with another dog.
  • She avoids strangers.
  • She sniffs the air or looks around nervously.
  • Her eyes look sunken in and her ears point forward.
  • She tries to bite or claw at something.
  • She has vaginal discharge.
  • She won’t respond to you.
  • She runs away instead of playing.
  • She urinates frequently.
  • She shows an increased need for affection.
  • She has mood swings or depression.
  • You find hairballs.
  • She loses weight.
  • She loses her appetite.
  • She is clumsy.
  • She is extremely sensitive to noise.
  • She barks more than usual.
  • She pants heavily.
  • She develops bad breath.
  • She begins pulling out her fur.
  • The skin around her anus turns pale or red.
  • She walks very slowly.
  • Her voice sounds hoarse.

How Long Does it Last?

Now, you might be wondering how long a dog’s estrous cycle lasts, or how long she stays in heat for.

Well, a female dog will usually stay in heat for 2-4 weeks. Some dogs will be receptive to males, while others will not. But most adult dogs have a short period of time when they remain in heat.

If you’ve been observing your pet closely, you probably noticed that she goes through certain periods where she shows no interest in having sex. This is called the periestrus phase, and during this period, your female dog will show few or no signs of being in heat at all.

How Long Does A Female Dog Period Last?

During this stage, your dog still produces estrogen and progesterone. However, her body doesn’t produce as much testosterone.

It’s important to understand that a dog’s estrous cycles are cyclical, meaning that they happen every year based on their age. Typically, however, a dog’s first estrous cycle occurs between 6 months and 1-years old.

When is a Dog Able to Get Pregnant?

A bitch can get pregnant after mating once, or twice, if she’s in heat. After three heats, her chances of getting pregnant decrease dramatically — about 1 percent each time.

So, if your dog mated once, then wouldn’t you want to make sure to protect her from pregnancy before she does so again? If she did mate two times, do you really want to subject her to the stress of breeding without protecting her against possible pregnancy?

How Long is a Dog Pregnant For?

It takes approximately 10 days for a dog to become pregnant. The gestation period varies by breed, but typically ranges from 75-85 days. In fact, most breeds only give birth to one litter per year. A new mother will nurse and care for her puppies until they’re weaned.

Preventing Pregnancy

There are several ways to prevent heat for your female dog. The first thing you should do is monitor your pet’s temperature. Most vets recommend checking your dog’s body temperature every morning before feeding.

This way, you can keep tabs on how high — or low — your dog’s temperature is during each stage of her menstrual

All About Spaying

What Does it Mean to Spay a Dog?

Spaying a canine involves removing both ovaries (ovariectomy) and cutting off the uterus (hysterectomy).

The surgery requires a veterinarian to perform under anesthesia, which means you’ll need to schedule a visit to the vet just prior to spaying.

This procedure prevents the production of eggs and therefore avoids conception. Once your female dog has had her ovaries removed, she will never go into heat again — ever!

That said, there may be other reasons why your dog needs to be spayed besides preventing pregnancy. You may find out that your dog has an infection or tumor that needs to be removed during the procedure.

Some dogs even require hysterectomies because they have too many uterine tumors. And some dogs suffer from pyometra — when pus builds up inside the uterus due to bacterial infections — while still young. In these cases, spaying is necessary to avoid medical complications such as infection, blood loss and death.

Should You Spay Your Dog?

You should definitely consider spaying your dog if :

  • She’s older than 2 years old. Age affects a dog’s reproductive system and can cause problems with fertility, including pain from cysts or tumors.
  • Her owners don’t want to take responsibility to raise a puppy. Often, young mothers are nervous about being away from their puppies for long periods of time, since that’s when accidents can occur.
  • She’s been bred multiple times already.

What Should I Do Before Spaying My Pet?

If you’ve decided that spaying is right for your pet, here are steps you can take before undergoing this major operation:

  • Make sure your pet isn’t pregnant. Dogs usually start going through heat cycles around age 5 months, although they typically begin showing signs of heat at younger ages. To determine whether your pet is pregnant, check her feces for evidence of a recent mating.
  • Contact your vet to discuss spaying options. Some veterinarians suggest neutering all pets over 6 months of age, while others prefer waiting until the animal reaches 1 year of age.
  • Discuss any possible risks and benefits of having the operation done. If your vet recommends spaying, he may also prescribe antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medication to help ease your pet’s discomfort after the surgery.

When Should You Get Your Dog Spayed?

There are several factors that affect the timing of bringing in the spay surgery. For example, larger breeds tend to mature later than smaller ones. Small dog breeds will generally go into heat much earlier than larger breeds.

Afterward, your vet should provide recommendations for postoperative care.

They may tell you that your dog will need additional shots to ensure she doesn’t become pregnant again in the future. This is especially true if your pet has more than one heat cycle per season.

What Happens During a Spay Surgery?

A typical spay procedure begins by making a small incision in the abdomen. Then the surgeon uses instruments to remove the ovaries and/or uterus. Finally, sutures are used to close the incisions.

The entire process takes about 30 minutes, and it’s performed either in an operating room or on your pet’s own surgical table. Anesthesia is required.

It’s important to note that the veterinarian performing the surgery must be licensed and certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) to perform spays.

It’s vital that your pet receives proper aftercare. Veterinarians recommend keeping your pet under observation in the recovery area for at least 24 hours following the procedure.

Be sure to keep them warm and comfortable during this period. Also, make sure they receive plenty of water.

Your vet will probably give you pain medication to give your dog, which will help her feel more comfortable after the surgery.

Ensure that your dog doesn’t do any vigorous activities, and is largely bed-bound. After a short time, she will begin to feel like herself again.

Is Spay Surgery Safe?

As with other surgeries, there is always some risk involved in spaying your pet. However, many vets believe that spays are safer than castrations because they do not require a cutting tool.

The most common complication associated with spay surgery is bleeding, which can lead to internal organ damage. Other complications include infection and nerve injury.

In very rare cases, dogs have died from spays; however, death is very rarely caused by the surgery itself.

Phantom Pregnancy

Sometimes, a bitch may experience a phantom pregnancy. This is when she thinks that she’s already pregnant, but isn’t actually showing any signs of being so.

She may act as though she needs to get up frequently, even though she hasn’t mated yet.

Your dog might exhibit some of the following signs:

  • Lethargy
  • Secretion from mammary glands
  • Nursing – she may become attached to a toy
  • Nesting
  • Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
  • Swollen belly
  • Depression or behavioral changes

Final Thoughts

While spays may reduce the chance of certain diseases in female dogs, they don’t guarantee perfect health. That said, it’s extremely unlikely that your pet will ever develop a disease as a result of being spayed.

Still, it’s best to get the operation done before your pet becomes sexually active if you do not want to breed her. A spayed female won’t experience the monthly changes associated with estrus cycles.

If you’re interested in having your pet spayed, schedule a consultation with your local veterinary hospital today! They will know exactly what they are talking about and what is needed.

You will need to ensure that your dog is not in heat, pregnant, or having a phantom pregnancy. If she is, you will have to wait until it is over, and she returns to normal. Phantom pregnancies may require medication, but this is rarely the case.

Megan Turner
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