Do Dogs Get Periods?

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Do Dogs Get PeriodsMuch like any other animal, unspayed female dogs will go through an estrous cycle once they reach sexual maturity. However, your dog’s reproductive cycle will look different from human periods. This may leave you perplexed — in this article, we answer the question, “Do dogs get periods?”

What are Dog Periods?  

While dogs do ovulate, they don’t come with a menstruation cycle the same way that humans do. A female dog’s period doesn’t occur the way it does with human females; for instance, dogs don’t bleed due to the shedding of their uterine lining. Instead, they experience a bloody discharge from the vulva that’s caused by a combination of mucus, blood, and other fluids released from their cervix. 

While this is similar to human menstruation, this takes place when a dog is in heat or estrus. This refers to their menstrual cycle, a time when dogs become fertile and able to get pregnant; a heat cycle is controlled by hormone levels and is marked by higher estrogen levels, followed by a sharp decrease, and then finally a release of eggs from the ovaries.  

When Do Dogs Go in Heat? 

The dog heat cycle will vary on the dog’s breed, and every individual dog, but most dogs will be sexually mature and have their first heat cycle by the time they turn 6 to 12 months of age. Smaller breeds will tend to get their first time faster at just 6 months old, while larger breeds might not reach their first cycle until they turn 1 year or older. However, the timing of their heat cycles may also be affected by various factors such as their environment, nutrition, and overall health. 

What are the Stages of a Dog’s Heat Cycle?    

The length of time that your dog stays in the estrous cycle will depend on the factors stated above but it will typically last anywhere between 2-4 weeks. This will also be divided into the various stages below. 

Proestrus

This stage may last around 3 to 17 days with an average of 7 days. In this first stage of the cycle, your dog may experience a swollen vulva along with a light, blood-tinged discharge that may get heavier. However, she won’t be fertile just yet and can’t get pregnant — this is the time when estrogen levels rise. 

At this time, your pup may become more clingy and affectionate, but may also get stressed and grumpy. This is when intact male dogs become attracted to the female, but she won’t be receptive to them. During walks, you may see that your pooch will have her tail tucked between her legs and refuse male company. 

Estrus

The estrus cycle will range between 3 to 18 days with an average length of 9 days; during this time, your female dog will be fertile and may become pregnant. Your dog’s vulva will continue to swell and produce a bloody discharge but will reduce as the days pass. In this next stage, ovulation occurs and is characterized by a drop in estrogen and an increase in progesterone. 

Many pet owners notice that their dogs are now accepting of unneutered male dogs, who will give their female dogs more attention as a result of the release of hormones. You may also notice that your female dog will start flirting with other dogs by raising its tail, moving it side to side, and raising its rear.  

Diestrus

The diestrus stage can last between 58 to 68 days with an average of 60 days — if your female dog becomes pregnant, this is when it occurs. If it hasn’t bred, the body will start preparing for the cycle to start again and females will no longer be receptive to males or fertile. The vulva should go back to its normal size and the discharge should dry up. 

Anestrus

The anestrus stage represents the end of the cycle and should last between 100 to 150 days. It signifies a period of rest or inactivity that lets the body prepare for your dog’s next heat cycle.  During this time, their hormones will go back to normal. 

How Often Will Dogs Experience Being Heat? 

When your dog reaches puberty and starts its heat cycle, the frequency may vary depending on the breed of the dog. On average the time it takes to start a new cycle from the previous cycle is around 6 to 12 months. Large breeds and giant breeds such as Great Danes and St. Bernards will have less frequent cycles (once a year or less), while small dog breeds may have more frequent cycles such as once every 4 to 6 months. 

Your dog’s age and overall health may also affect how often your pup can enter its heat cycle, with some breeds having a delayed cycle or their cycle may stop once they reach a certain age. Unlike people, a female dog won’t get menopause; instead, they will continue to get a heat cycle for its whole life once it reaches puberty. However, this can stop completely once it’s spayed, and sometimes there could be a longer wait in between its cycles as your dog gets older, known as irregular cycles. 

Signs of Heat in Female Dogs 

There are various signs of a dog in heat that you can look for in female pups. If your pooch isn’t spayed and is sexually mature, look for symptoms including the following. 

Physical Changes 

  • Swelling of the Vulva: One of the most obvious signs of a female dog in heat is a swollen vulva, which may be accompanied by a light discharge. 
  • Bloody Discharge: As your dog progresses along its heat cycle, it may start to produce discharge that shouldn’t have too much blood. 

Behavioral Changes

  • Increased Irritability: Pet parents may notice that their pup growls at other pets and people, particularly at other unspayed dogs. 
  • Restlessness and Increased stress: Some dogs will become agitated and stressed when they’re in heat. 
  • Escape and Roaming: This is among the most common behaviors of a female dog, and will often look to get out of the yard to look for a male dog to mate with. 
  • Flagging: Females will often raise their tails and wave them around when they’re in heat, which signals that they’re ready to mate. 
  • Showing Interest in Male Dogs: A dog in heat will emit powerful pheromones that males can detect from long distances. As such, male dogs will get interested in females and may try to mount them.
  • Appetite Changes: Your female dog may start resisting food, get an increase in appetite, or become picky in terms of food.  

Keep in mind that not all female dogs will go through the same experience in terms of heat cycles. Some dogs will show more signs such as heavier discharge, while other dogs may not show any signs of being in heat at all. 

Why is it Important to Spay Your Dog? 

Also known as an ovariohysterectomy, spaying involves the removal of the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes of dogs and cats. As a result, these procedures eliminate the chance of the animal’s ability to reproduce while also helping to prevent disease and other undesirable traits associated with their mating instincts. A few benefits of spaying your female dog include the following:

  • Lower risk for certain cancers, infections, and diseases, such as pyometra
  • Curbing undesirable behaviors that come with mating
  • Lower healthcare costs in the long term
  • Longer life expectancy
  • Limits unwanted pregnancies and stops overpopulation with pets

Be sure to discuss the benefits of spaying your dog with your vet; this won’t just protect your pooch from unwanted pregnancy, but it will also stop their bleeding and heat cycles.   

Do Dogs Get Periods?

When it’s your dog’s season, you may want to give them veterinary care, especially if you’re a first-time pet owner or are caring for older dogs. Dog owners have a responsibility to care for their pets at every stage of their lives — getting doggy diapers is the best way to help their pup live as normally as possible during this time. Be sure to observe any changes in your dog’s body and your dog’s behavior to ensure that their experience of being in heat is always pleasant.

 

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