Dog Owners Ask: “How Long are Dogs in Heat?” - The Trupanion Blog
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Dog Owners Ask: “How Long are Dogs in Heat?”

Read on to learn more about this popular pet owner question: How long are dogs in heat?

If you’re a dog owner, you may not know all the ins and outs of your dog’s development. While there are many stages of development in dogs, one may be possibly overlooked. In the case of breeding or pregnancy, you may wonder, “how long are dogs in heat?” Every dog is different, and when it comes to the reproductive process and your pets, there may be questions. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Sarah Nold to learn more about the stages of a dog in heat and best practices for your furry friend.

Pet owners wonder: how long are dogs in heat?

Learn more about the stages of heat and how long are dogs in heat in this post.

Typically how long are dogs in heat?

If you decide not to spay your dog, it is important for you to know how long your dog may be in heat. Nold explains the dog heat cycle and what you may encounter below.

“On average the heat cycle lasts about 3 weeks, but is highly variable dog to dog and can be as long as 7 weeks.  Some female dogs don’t bleed at all, some bleed for only a few days and some bleed the entire time.”

Naturally, bleeding is normal during the heat cycle. But if something seems off, please seek the medical care of your veterinarian. They can determine whether something more is going on with your dog.

Signs that your dog is in heat

If your dog is bleeding, that is a sure sign that they are in heat. Also,” you may notice are they are swollen and have an attraction of male dogs,” says Nold. It may help to notate your dog’s behavior, so you may have a better understanding of when your dog is going through a cycle.

Stages of a dog being in heat

If you’re new to dog ownership, you may not know the stages of a dog in heat. Wilde breaks down the stages for you here.

The stages of the estrous cycle are:

  • Proestrus: the start of the heat cycle
  • Estrus: the second state of heat and may become receptive to males.
  • Diestrus: the third stage of heat and may be able to breed at this time.
  • Anestrus: the final stage of heat

Best practices

If you intend on breeding your dog, consult with your veterinarian on the next steps and what to watch for. In addition, “your veterinarian can perform vaginal cytology to more accurately determine what stage of the estrous cycle your female dog is in, as the appearance of the cells in the vagina change with each stage. This is often done in combination with monitoring hormone changes,” says Nold.

Did you know?

Most dogs have their first heat cycle between 6 months and 18-24 months of age, but some dog’s cycles as early as 4-5 months of age. Every dog is different, so it’s important to decide early on your decision to spay or breed your dog. As there can occasionally be reasons on a case by case basis to delay spaying your female dog, discuss when is the best time to spay your dog at their first puppy visit.

How long dogs are in heat: talk to your veterinarian on a timeline on whether you want to breed your dog or spay them.

The importance of spay/neuter

Although you may not know whether you want to breed your dog, it’s important you consult with your veterinarian. You’ll want to consider your options, and if you don’t choose to breed your dog, pick a date to spay/neuter them. Spaying and neutering your pets may help with population control and avoid certain medical conditions.

For more on dog breeding, read Why Responsible Dog Breeders are Important

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