What does being in heat mean for your dog?
Estrus (“heat”) is the mating period of female animals. When estrus occurs, animals are said to be “in heat” or “in season.” Dogs generally have their first estrous cycle at 6-12 months of age.
The complete cycle takes about 6 months, resulting in 2 estrous periods each year. Individual variation occurs, but a given female’s pattern tends to be repeated regularly.
The estrous cycle can be divided into 4 stages:
Proestrus: This stage begins with the appearance of vaginal bleeding and normally lasts from 4 to 9 days. Male dogs become obsessively interested in the female; however, she will not yet mate with them.
Estrus: This is the stage in which the female will accept the male and conception can occur. The vaginal discharge is more yellowish than bloody. Ordinarily, the stage lasts for 4 to 13 days. The female will stand still and hold her tail to the side when you touch her back or when a male dog tries to mount.
Metestrus and anestrus: These 2 stages are periods of ovarian activity with no significant outward signs. False pregnancies frequently occur during metestrus.
Some important points to remember:
Consider your female to be “in season” for 21 days: 7 days coming into heat, 7 days in heat, 7 days going out. Though conception is most likely during the middle 7 days, Mother Nature doesn’t always follow the rules. Confine your pet for the entire 3 weeks.
The above information is general. Not all female dogs follow these patterns.
Consult with your veterinarian if your pet does not seem typical. Sometimes, cycling problems can be an early warning of more serious problems, and the sooner they are dealt with, the better.