Dogs in Heat -
Heat Cycles and Spaying Dogs
When will my dog come into
heat? What age will my dog come into her first heat?
First heat can vary greatly dog to dog.
The youngest is about six months of age though sometimes a female will
come into season younger. First heat can start as late as 12 or even 14
months of age or later in rare cases. Again, it can vary dog to dog.
How often will my dog come into heat?
Again, this varies dog-to-dog
average is every six months but it could be more or less often. I have
known one female who came in every four months like clockwork. I have
known others who came in once a year or less. Dogs do not read the
averages we set for them!
How long does heat least?
This again can vary. The average is
three weeks (21 days). However, it can be shorter (two weeks) or longer
(four weeks). Assume the longer period if in doubt.
|What are the signs my dog is in heat
Symptoms can vary from dog to dog but generally look out for:
* Swelling of the vulva. This can vary greatly. Some females swell a
lot and others hardly at all
* Bleeding from the genital area
* Increased Urination
* Change in personality
How long does the bleeding last?
2 - 4 weeks but 3 weeks is around average. You can purchase Doggy
diapers or garments if the bleeding is heavy.
When is a dog most fertile?
This varies dog to dog and is why some breeders attempt to progesterone
test to help pinpoint fertility (testing is not 100% reliable but
can help). The fertile period can last about five days and may begin
approximately nine to ten days after the onset of heat. However, onset of
fertile period can vary after the start of the heat cycle. Some females
will only accept a male during this fertile period though others females
may allow a male to mount at any time during her cycle while others are
not receptive at all.
Can a dog get pregnant her
first heat cycle?
A dog can get pregnant in her first
cycle. Ideally, she should not be bred until about 24 months when she is
out of adolescence. In addition, she should not be bred unless she will
truly add to the quality of her breed in form, function and health.
Breeding ethics is a whole other discussion!
Will my dog go through
No. Females do not go through menopause though
sometimes there may be a cessation in heat cycles for a period and then
they can start back up again. As a female ages, her fertility does drop
off but she will not go through menopause as humans do. It is also
possible for senior dogs to become pregnant. Dropping off of fertility
with age does not mean she cannot become pregnant.
Why do people suggest spaying
my dog even though I watch her when in heat so she
does not get mated?
There are a variety of reasons why spaying is
recommended. The biggest is health. An unspayed female has a greater risk
of developing some tumors such as mammary tumors. An unspayed female can
developed pyometra (a serious uterine infection than can be fatal) as well
as uterine cancer. Having litters is risky to the dog and can be very
costly to properly plan and raise.
Then there are behavioral issues:
unspayed females are more likely to have hormonally related
behavioral issues than spayed females (Puppy PMS). Spaying is not a cure
for behavioral issues but is a step in working with them. Heat
cycles can be very messy and spaying is cheaper than having carpets
cleaned after the female gets out of the kitchen and spots all over the
Does a female dog need to have a
litter of puppies before being spayed?
Having a litter is not healthier than
being spayed before a first heat. First, a dog should not be bred her
first cycle she is too immature mentally and often physically. Make the
analogy of a teenager having a child at fifteen is she ready? A dog
should be bred at the earliest 18 months of age. Hips cannot be certified
(OFA Orthopedic Foundation of America) if she is younger than 24 months
and many recommend waiting until hips can be certified before breeding.
You want her to be physically and
mentally mature before breeding. In addition, there are
complications that can arise during pregnancy and delivery and even
post-partum. These complications can be life threatening. A litter
of puppies is stressing to her entire system. Spaying eliminates
Having a litter is more dangerous
than spaying in the long run. Moreover, the longer a female goes unspayed,
the greater chance of her developing other health problems. A female
should be spayed before her first cycle ideally though spaying at any
age has more benefits than not spaying.
My neighbor's dog died while being spayed. Is
spaying a dangerous operation?
There is risk in any surgery.
Without knowing specifics, you will not know why the death occurred.
Thousands of spays are performed daily around the country. In a rare few
there may be complications leading to death. Again, this is rare.
Complications from not being spayed are more of a concern than the
operation itself. Now this does not help ease the pain for those whose
dogs die during a spay. However, there are many factors that can lead to
death during surgery. Ask for preoperative bloods to be done to check for
problems that could lead to complications. Ask what type of anaesthesia is
used and note that some breeds may need milder anaesthetics. However, the
health risks of being intact far outweigh the small risks of surgery.
Is spaying expensive?
Let's break down a few things and see
how much spaying costs as compared to the costs of other things that can
happen in an intact female. A spay depending on the size of the dog and
the clinic (and what types of testing is done prior to, what anaesthesia
is used, etc) can range from as low as $50 to $175 or more. You can spend
many times more than this to treat a pyometra or remove mammary tumors.
Blood spots on a carpet can cost a
couple hundred dollars to remove if you call in a carpet cleaning
company. In addition, of you cannot get the stains out, how much will
replacing the carpet cost? A litter of puppies from birth to eight
weeks can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars in food, supplies and
inoculations combined. If there are medical complications, this
expense can grow.These expenses do not even include pre and post
natal care for the mother. Spaying is cheaper than not.
FAQs About Heat Cycles and Spaying in Dogs
Pet Editor, Your Life Magazine on line,
West Wind Dog Training
© 2006 West Wind Dog Training, no part may
be used without written permission.