Season or Heat Cycle In Dogs
What Is a Season
The "Season" can also be called "heat" or "oestrus".
This is the time when the female dog can become pregnant. Therefore care must be taken if you do not want a whole litter of puppies.
It is not always obvious that the dog is in season, especially when it is the first season.
The signs may be quite difficult to spot, because the swelling and discharge can be almost non-existent.
When the first heat occurs, varies enormously from dog to dog. An unspayed female dog can usually be expected to come into heat twice yearly it normally lasts three week.
Unfortunately nature does not do usually. When it comes to seasons you cannot class all dogs alike. Some seasons can vary in length from two to four weeks, rather than the average three weeks. Always calculate it as four weeks if you are unsure, or you could be very unhappy with the outcome.
Some females only have one season a year, and others can have three. Nothing is set in stone when it comes to a dogs season. The giant breeds may have only one season every year or even some have been known to be every 18 months.
What Age Does The 1st Season Normally Start?
Once again this has enormous variations. The average will start it when the female is between six to ten months old.
However like all the others this can vary between the different breeds and sizes.
In the picture on the left. Charlie, because he was neutered as a rescue, he does not know what is expected of him.
Desperate for sex, Pip the female, mounts him to show what he should do.
I have known dogs to have their first season at five months and others as late as twenty four months.
Having said that these would normally be the giant breeds, such as Wolfhounds or Great Danes.
The size of the dog normally means they will mature at different times. For instance I would start to become a little worried, if the season does not happen until very late (after thirty six months)
Then have the dog checked out by a Vet if you are concerned.
It is prudent to check to make sure there are no underlying medical problems that could be affecting the onset of the first season.
What Are The Signs
Sometimes you will see a yellow or white mucus type discharge from the Vulva. This is the area that links to the womb not where they toilet from. After a short period you may see a bloody discharge.
The dog may be licking around the genital regions more than normal, as she tries to keep clean. Her vulva will often become swollen; this once again can be different from dog to dog.
Is Recall A Problem?
Some can become very large, and therefore obvious, others almost unnoticeable.
Other signs are mood changes and increased urination. She may develop 'marking behaviour, in which she urinates small amounts on different objects, either at home or on a walk.
She may show restlessness and reduced appetite. She can become skittish and show nervous behaviour, recall can become as problem as she becomes fertile.
When Can She Get Pregnant
At the time the discharge becomes almost clear with some mucus, which acts as a lubricant, this is when she ovulates.
She is now at her most fertile stage. This will be the time when she may try and escape and look for a dog to couple with.
The dog’s genetics kicks in and she will actively stand for a dog and move its tail to one side inviting the male dog to mate with her.
If you look at the picture right you can see Pipsqueak in her second season standing for Charlie.
Whilst he looks intrested, in reality he has been neutered, and has no idea why she is flirting with him and what she wants.
The female can get very desperate at this time, if any door or gate is unlocked then she will be off. The local lothario can also sneak in and have his evil way.
If she has mated before she reaches this period in her season, she can still get pregnant.
Sperm can survive for a week in her reproductive tract, therefore still capable of fertilising the eggs.
It is commonly believed that if the dogs do not “tie,” which the act of turning back to back whilst still, coupled together, then she cannot fall pregnant.
This is an “old wives tale” A dog can get pregnant, just as easily without becoming fully tied and with just normal coupling.
|Is your dog pulling on the Lead, Unruly, Bad Recall, Aggressive on Lead, Jumping Up?
See my article and Video Clips on how to stop this. The Jingler
Commonly Asked Questions
1.If a dog couples can I get her a morning after pill?
Yes, there is medication that can help to terminate pregnancy up to a few days after coupling. However it can have complications.
2. How long is a pregnancy?
Pregnancy in dogs, also called a gestation period, typically lasts 63 days (about nine weeks). The duration of a dog's pregnancy can fall in the range of 58 to 68 days.
3.Can a dog get pregnant in its first season?
The simple answer is yes. If the dog has matured enough to have a season, then it is perfectly capable of carrying a belly full of puppies.
Though any good breeder, would wait until at least the second season before breeding.
4.Can I walk my dog when in heat?
Yes, you can walk your dog. But have some respect for other dog owners.
Only walk the streets, not the park, and always keep her on a lead whilst in season.
5.Will my dog not miss having puppies?
This is a typical anthropomorphic question. It suggests dogs like humans will yearn after motherhood, especially if they cannot have pups.
The only automatic yearning dogs have is to mate. During that 10 day period the dog’s instinct is to couple to any male dog. Other than that time the dog will not miss or yearn for a family or puppies.
6.Do dogs have a menopause like humans?
Unlike humans, dogs stay fertile all their lives. The season may be missed occasionally as they move into old age. However they can still fall pregnant at any age.
7.What are the early signs of pregnancy?
These include loss of appetite, lethargy, slight nipple growth and some behavioural changes.
These changes come about because of the surges in hormones, and can include the need for isolation or the opposite demanding to be cuddled.
8.What are the later signs of pregnancy?
After a few weeks her appetite will improve and she will rapidly start to gain weight.
Her abdomen will thicken and her nipples will enlarge, and she may start lactating a few day before birth.
In the last weeks you can feel the sometimes see the puppies moving around.
On the left is Pebbles. She is pregnant and three days before giving birth.
The miracle of birth can be an amazing experience. I love dogs and always have done, that after all is why I am in this profession.
However, I have never bred a litter of puppies, and probably never will.
Not because I do not want to watch them grow. I have followed many litters from birth to death.
Whilst the rescue centres are screaming out for homes for unwanted dogs. and the likes of the RSPCA are euthanizing thousands of perfectly healthy dogs, then I am not prepared to add to that statistic.
75% of all the dogs I have owned have been rescues. The others I bought as puppies, to be trained as gundogs or sniffer dogs.
If it was a puppy then I needed to get them early and at the most important time of their learning period, this is between 0 and 18 weeks. If I choose wisely, and pick the right breeder, then I will know that the 1st weeks of their lives will have been be fine.
I intend to write an article, aimed at breeders and their responsibility to these pups in the first vital weeks of their lives, before they go to their new homes. This may also help the potential owner to know what to look for.
The others I rehomed came to me because of their backgrounds and stories; I wanted to try and rehabilitee them and give them a life back, fortunately with some reasonable success.
Read Charlie’s story. He came into my life and home as the most violently abused dog I have ever worked with.
Part of his story is in Fearful and Timid Dogs. When I finish my first book, I will write more about Charlie’s amazing fortitude, and his ability to overcome some of the worst starts in life I have ever heard of.
I will also mention the brilliant work of a vet nurse, now a dog trainer, Who literally saved him from being slowly beaten to death, when others almost ignored his plight.
On the right is Pebbles with her three pups. Pips in all the other photo's is her daughter and is the one on the left.
I have not written about seasons and pregnancies in dogs, because I want you to rush out and get you dog neutered. Before you consider that read “ Neutering the Real Story”.
However if I can get just one person to take on a rescue dog, then I will have at least helped the hard pressed rescue centres, most who do brilliant work.
I have very little time for the likes of the RSPCA and some of the other large rescue institutions. I like and support the small individual rescue centres.
Having said that the small RSPCA units, often do sterling work. It is the wasteful heads of these institutions that appear to get the donations, whilst starving the operations that do the real work.
So my time and money goes to the little ones. The are the ones that are struggling, not the ones with a tranche of directors on six figure salaries and fleets of company cars.