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).
The Heat Cycle in Dogs
The heat cycle of the dog last about 3 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 4-7 days before “true heat” or estrus.
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. 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.
As the vagina begins to shrink and the bleeding slows, the dogs begins diestrus. This period can last 4 days to 2 weeks, but the female will not accept males during this time. Your troubles are over until the next heat cycle.