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How to Tell If and When Your Dog Is in Heat

Are you going to recognize the signs of heat before this happens?
Are you going to recognize the signs of heat before this happens? | Source

What is "heat" and when is it going to happen?

When we say that your dog is in heat, it means that she is undergoing changes to her body so that she will attract male dogs, get bred, and have puppies.

Your dog will first come into heat when she is still a puppy. With toy breeds it may be as early as 4 months, but with giant breeds it may not happen until their second year. The first heat cycle is usually kind of mild though, so, unless your front door becomes a gathering place for the neighborhood male dogs, you may not even notice your dog´s first heat cycle.

Doggie diapers are a way to prevent spotting around the house.
Doggie diapers are a way to prevent spotting around the house. | Source

How can I tell if my dog is in heat?

The first sign you will notice, long before any physical changes, are a few personality changes. She may be nervous, shy, more affectionate than usual, or even aggressive. There is really no way to tell how a dog is going to act. As she gets closer to coming in to heat she will have a swollen vulva; some dogs will even have swollen nipples. For about a week before she starts spotting your dog will urinate every chance she gets when you walk her—this is her way of alerting the other dogs in the area that she will soon be ready to breed.

Your dog will begin “spotting” (having a bloody discharge from her vulva) and when she starts with this stage you will definitely notice. This may be considered the first day of heat. There may be a lot or just a few drops, but it almost always decreases as the time of ovulation approaches (usually one to three weeks after the bleeding starts).

Bleeding in the house is one of the best reasons to get your dog spayed. If you do not want to have her spayed for some reason, doggie diapers are available and will cover her up so that she does not stain the carpet or furniture. The diapers have to be removed every time you take her outside since, if you do not, she will urinate in the diaper and ruin it.

The second to third week of heat is when your dog is likely most likely to be bred, whether you want it or not. The reduced spotting is a sign of ovulation and your best indication of when she will stand to be bred. You can plan on the greatest success if you breed her every few days during the time that she will stand and allow a male to mount.

If you do not want to breed your female, it is also the time you need to watch her carefully and keep her away from the male dogs in the neighborhood. She will not be bleeding anymore but will still be able to conceive puppies.

When no one knows the signs of heat...
When no one knows the signs of heat... | Source

Should I just get her spayed?

To avoid all of these symptoms, you should have your dog spayed. There is a lot of controversy as to when it should be done, but if you cannot watch your dog and protect her during the first heat cycle you should have her spayed while still young.

If you choose not to have her spayed, do not plan on breeding her unless you are willing to have her hips and elbows x-rayed to check for dysplasia, and her eyes checked for changed in the retina.

In case you do plan on breeding, find a male who is free of genetic diseases before your female shows signs of heat.

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Comments 7 comments

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 2 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

It varies a lot so I cannot give you a definite answer. One of my Pitbulls just came out of heat, she bled for only 3 days. Most dogs bleed from 7-10 days. Plan on watching her closely for about 10 days after that.

If she is a mix breed, and you have no interest in breeding her in the future, it will make your life a lot easier if you go ahead and have her spayed. When a dog is in heat you have to watch her like a hawk!

It may be better to spay her after the first heat. Do some more reading on the subject.


mindi 2 years ago

Approximately how long does the bleeding with first estrus last? I have a lab mix pup.


Bob Bamberg profile image

Bob Bamberg 4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

That sure makes the pizza delivery guy look boring.


DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Yes, that is a funny point because the dogs are all real nice, but around here people are afraid of big dogs. Oh, and the correct answer? A female that likes to visit all the males in the neighborhood.


Bob Bamberg profile image

Bob Bamberg 4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

Well, after lengthy analysis I've ruled out Pug, so that leaves either a bon vivant male Husky or a promiscuous female Husky.

Jeez, I'm only kidding, folks!! In some places sexist humor is OK and in others, it's not. I'm not a knuckle dragger, really!

I'll bet not too many people try to break into your client's property!


DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Big cultural difference! There is not even a place to spay a dog around here, even if she shows up one day in fishnet stockings! I was training at a home yesterday with a Husky/lab cross, a Husky/German Shepherd cross, and a Husky/Alaskan Malamute cross. Guess what her first dog was?


Bob Bamberg profile image

Bob Bamberg 4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

Interesting and informative hub, DrMark. I've never owned a dog, so I always thought the first sign was fishnet stockings under a leather mini-skirt. Now I are enlightened :)

Around here, owners (unless they are serious breeders) who don't get their dogs spayed or neutered during puppyhood are looked upon with some scorn. There is some serious social pressure exerted.

Most pet adoption organizations, if they haven't already had the surgery done, require a commitment to do so (sometimes an actual appointment date) before they will release a dog to an adopter.

Interesting read, as usual. Voted up and interesting. Regards, Bob

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