Like other mammals, dogs undergo an estrous cycle, a sign that signifies their sexual maturity. In most cases, pet owners notice their dog is in heat through a bloody vaginal discharge. The cycle consists of four parts, and contrary to popular belief, the end of the bleeding does not mark the end of the heat.
One might ask, can a dog get pregnant while bleeding? Definitely! Female dogs are usually more responsive to mating when they are in heat, usually between two to four weeks once to twice a year. During this stage, your pets start to produce pheromones and hormones which attract males.
Compared to a human female’s period, a female dog’s cycle has a lot of differences. For human females, the time in which they menstruate is when they are less likely to be fertile. Moreover, the event occurs monthly and may last from three to eight days. On the other hand, a female dog is most likely to get pregnant while bleeding or in its heat cycle, and it only happens once or twice a year.
When Does the Reproductive Cycle of a Dog Begin?
A dog will have its first reproductive or “heat” cycle when it reaches sexual maturity. It usually begins at an average of six months of age. However, it varies between dog breeds. Some breeds start to experience their heat cycle as young as four months old, while some as old as 24 months old. A pet owner should breed their dog until it reaches its full maturity and its eggs have already matured. The cycle ends between two to four weeks.
What Are the Different Phases of the Heat Cycle? How Do You Protect a Dog at Every Stage?
There are four phases to the cycle. The early stage is called “proestrus,” which lasts at an average of 9 days but may range from 0 to 27 days. This is the time when some visible signs such as a swollen vulva, bloody vaginal discharge, and immoderate licking of its genital parts can be observed. A female dog usually becomes clingier, affectionate, and aggressive towards a male dog. However, it is not yet able to be bred.
In this stage, rather than letting a dog out in a fenced yard with little to no guardianship, a pet owner should think twice when taking their female dog off its leash. A male dog is more attracted to the pheromones produced by females through their urine. Females smell so attractive that male dogs can detect them even from a distance; because of this, keep an eye out for any unwanted breeding.
The next phase is termed “estrus.” A dog is said to be “in heat” when it is in its estrus phase. It is in its most fertile period, so if anyone would ask, “can a dog get pregnant while bleeding?” The answer is yes! Female dogs are more likely to be impregnated when they are in the middle of their heat cycle because they become more receptive to male dogs and capable of mating. In this phase, they begin to urinate more often than usual, and they change the position of their tails to communicate to males that they are ready for mating.
A dog may experience being in heat for one and a half to two weeks, but this may also range from four to twenty-four days. Some owners might notice the enlargement and tenderness of their dog’s vulva during this stage. Additionally, the vaginal discharge of the dog becomes noticeably slower and watery. If one plans to breed their dog during this stage, they have to consult an expert to make sure that their dog is ready for reproduction.
The third phase is called the “diestrus” phase. It is a period that happens right after the “in heat” phase of a dog. Its body would either go back to normal or develop to accommodate pregnancy. This phase lasts for about two months. During this stage, one might observe that the dog’s vaginal discharge will cease, and its vulva will return to its usual size.
Finally, the last phase of this cycle is called “anestrus.” It implies the absence of a dog’s hormonal behavior. In this phase, a female dog becomes sexually inactive, and the phase may last from between 3 to 5 months before the beginning of the next proestrus phase.
How Often Does a Dog Go into Heat?
While it still varies between dogs, it happens at an average of two heat cycles each year. Some might undergo irregular cycles and may take up to 2 years to fully develop their regular cycle. Smaller dog breeds usually cycle three times each year, while the bigger ones might cycle just once every one to one and a half years.
Caring for a Dog in its Heat Cycle
As mentioned, there are various stages during the heat cycle of a female dog. These include some noticeable physical and behavioral changes, high fertility, and bleeding. Has anyone ever wondered about the things they could do to properly manage and take care of their dog while it is bleeding? Here are a few tips:
Make sure that the dog is healthy and hydrated
The first and foremost concern that one must cater to while a dog is bleeding is its healthiness or physical condition. One must ensure that the dog eats well and drinks enough water. If one notices some changes in their appetite, then most likely, their heat cycle has begun. When this happens, an owner should ensure that their dog maintains a proper eating habit. Dogs constantly release heat from their body; that is why an owner should monitor their dog’s drinking behavior to avoid dehydration.
Give the dog more attention
Dogs in “heat” or in their “season” tend to be clingier, even to humans. They would enjoy cuddling and snuggling, so a pet owner must provide this for a dog to be more comfortable even while in heat.
Consider using a good diaper
For the convenience of an easy cleanup, pet owners should invest in a good diaper! If they are environmentally conscious or earth-friendly, they might want their dog a reusable or washable diaper. Otherwise, if washing is not desirable, they might want to decide on buying disposable diapers instead.
It unavoidable for your furry friends to leave a bloody mess during their heat. If this happens, immediately clean the area to prevent it from drying and staining. Also, one must not scold the dog during or after the incident.
Keep an eye on it at all times
As mentioned above, a female dog, during its heat cycle, should be kept away from male dogs. Male dogs may catch the scent of a female dog in heat and track it down for mating. One should not let their dog outside, or even in a fenced yard, if unattended.
Avoid spaying it while it is in heat
Veterinarians do not recommend having a dog spayed while bleeding or during its heat. While it could be preparing for its pregnancy, its uterus could be exceptionally more vascular, which presents a higher risk of internal bleeding. It is best advised to reschedule spaying when its hormonal levels are normal, preferably halfway between heat.
Other Causes of Bleeding in Dogs
While the statements above tackled a dog’s bleeding related to its heat cycle and its probability of getting pregnant during this period, there are also other reasons why a dog may experience bleeding. These include uterine infections, pyometra, miscarriage, physical damage to its reproductive tract, vaginal inflammations, vaginal tumors, and the like. Whether or not the bleeding is serious, it is advisable to allow dogs to undergo immediate medical treatment. With this, one might potentially save their dog.
The most common cause of a dog’s vaginal bleeding is its heat cycle. It is the time when a female dog is highly fertile and can get pregnant. However, there are still some medical conditions that might be the reason why a dog is bleeding. If in doubt, and one might not be sure of what is happening to their dog, they should consult a veterinarian for an accurate finding.
A dog has a reproductive cycle that is mainly different from humans. Some dogs begin their cycle at an average of six months. However, it heavily depends on the dogs and their breeds. A female dog’s reproductive cycle consists of four stages – proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. A dog is most fertile during the estrus stage, which it can most likely get pregnant.
While one’s dog is bleeding or is in heat, one must take care of their dog by making sure that it is always hydrated and healthy. Pet owners can help by giving it attention, especially once it becomes more affectionate. Furthermore, investing in a good diaper can either be reusable or disposable and cleaning up after the dog and the place where the incident happens is a must. They must remember to monitor the dog at all times.