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Recognizing the

signs that a Dog

is in Heat?

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How you can tell if your Dog's in Heat

The average heat cycle for a dog is approximately 3 weeks and since this an an average, some heats are shorter (as little as 7-10 days), others are longer (4 weeks or more).

Average times between heat periods is seven months but some dogs can cycle as early as every 4 months, some once a year.

Lengths of heat cycles and intervals between cycles are different for each dog but most dogs hit somewhere close to the averages.

The first part of heat you will notice bleeding from the private parts, swelling, possible increase in urination and the most noticeable, male dogs hanging around the house. During this period (proestrus), females will not allow the males to breed with them although the males will be very persistent.

The second part or estrus is the time in which the female will allow the male to breed her and this can last anywhere from 4-21 days. A female, most of the time, will allow most any male to breed during this time. As the female starts to go out of heat or enter diestrus, she will be less willing to breed.

Again this stage can last 4-14 days but averages approximately 7 days. The next cycle usually begins about 7 months from the start of the last heat cycle, not the end of that cycle but again this varies from dog to dog. The interval stays the same even if she becomes pregnant.

If you do not intend to breed her, you really should consider spaying her. There are many health benefits associated with spaying such as decreased chance of mammary tumors and you will not have to worry about pyometra, metritis or unwanted litters (overpopulation is a big problem - just take a trip to a humane shelter).

If you elect to spay her, this can be done during heat but it may be best to wait until the heat cycle is over to decrease the chance of complications.

Intact female dogs will normally come into heat (estrus) once every 4 to 12 months with the average for most breeds being once every 6 months. You will probably notice some bloody discharge from the private parts and a swollen area when your dog is in heat. You may notice "mounting" behavior, also.

The heat period can last from 8 to 30 days with an average of about 20 days. Most female dogs will be willing to stand for a male dog and permit breeding around 10 to 16 days after the beginning of their heat period. Some females will be a little more aggressive during their heat period, but most show no change in behavior and interaction with their owners.

Having puppies is great if you want the puppies or if you're trying to develop a special line of dogs. But there is no behavioral benefit in letting the female have a litter before spaying.

The normal canine companion will benefit greatly from being spayed at an early age before she has her first heat cycle. Problems that can develop later in life, such as mammary cancer and uterine infections, are virtually eliminated if an ovariohysterectomy (spay) is performed before she experiences her first heat cycle.

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