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Dr. Ken Tudor Holistic Veterinarian

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Basic Dog Care 04 | Why You Should Cope with the “In Heat” Dog

Spaying female dogs too early may cause problems later in life. We see that early spaying causes many female dogs to have urinary incontinence, urine leakage during rest and sleep, later in life. It is suspected that joint problems and risk of certain cancers is associated with early castration or ovariohysterectomy (removal of ovaries and uterus). More veterinarians, especially we holistic vets, are suggesting that dogs be altered after a year of age in most breeds and at 2-3 years of age for the giant breed dogs (Newfoundland, Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound, Mastiff, etc.). This means that your female dog will go through at least one “heat cycle” (about every 6 months after 8-12 months of age). Here are some tips to understand and cope with an "in heat" dog.

The Heat Cycle in Dogs

The heat cycle of the dog last about 3-6 weeks and has 3 main stages: proestrus, estrus and diestrus.

During proestrus, female dogs begin bleeding from the vagina and the vagina swells. Proestrus dogs sometimes urinate more frequently. The female will not accept the male at this time even if intact males are around. This is the messiest time of the heat cycle due to the bleeding. Dog diapers used during this time can reduce rug and floor stains from blood. This stage will last from 7-10 days before “true heat” or estrus. Confinement to a room, garage or outside run may be preferable for dogs with a lot of vaginal bleeding.

When the vagina is fully swollen and the blood flow from the vagina has decreased and becomes more watery looking, the dog is in estrus. This is the time she will accept the male for mating. This is also the trickiest stage of the cycle because it can last for weeks (4-24 days). The female needs to be kept isolated from intact males. Male dogs may start prowling around houses with dogs in heat. Extra precautions should be taken to prevent females from escaping or males entering the yard. You may want to avoid walking your dog around the neighborhood during this period as intact males can smell an in heat dog up to 5 miles away.

As the vagina begins to shrink, the dogs begins diestrus. This period can last 4 days to 2 weeks, but the female will not accept males during this time and males are generally no longer interested. Your troubles are over until the next heat cycle (approximately 6 months). For small and medium sized dogs, owners can book their dogs for a spay (ovariohysterectomy or ovarian-sparing hysterectomy) 1 month after her first diestrus. Large dogs can be spayed after their second heat and giant breeds will need to wait until after their 3rd or 4th heat before surgery.

Ken Tudor DVM
Dr. Ken Tudor, Holistic Veterinarian

Dr. Ken Tudor is a recognized expert and leader in the field of pet nutrition and fitness. He has developed a pet weight management program and served on the American Animal Hospital Association task force to develop their Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. He is also a frequent guest on the Pet World Insider radio show and a popular guest on the televised Pet Ex Talks-Pet Experts Empowering Pet Parents show.

Basic Dog Care 04 | Why You Should Cope with the “In Heat” Dog

Basic Dog Care

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