Estrus is the cycle in which a female dog goes through a mating period, often called “heat” or “in season.” The cycle for dogs usually occurs twice a year, much unlike the frequent mating cycles of other pets such as cats. The benefit of the dog’s mating cycle is that it has distinct physical signs, as well as behavioural changes that can be directly linked to estrus.
It is important to keep track of the beginning and end of the mating cycle, if control over the pregnancy is desired. The typical period of time that a female dog can become pregnant is three weeks, although the prime time in which the female will be impregnated is the second week of estrus. There are three phases: proestrus, estrus, and metestrus. Simply put, proestrus is the pre-heat stage, estrus is the climax of the heat, and the metestrus is the cool-down period.
The most noticeable signs of estrus will come during proestrus and estrus. During proestrus, there will be vaginal bleeding among female dogs. In most cases, the female dog will refuse to mate with another dog. However, it is still possible for the dog to become impregnated. During estrus, the secretion is less bloody, and more yellow in color. This is when female dogs will most likely become impregnated, as they exhibit the desire to be mated with. Finally, the metestrus stage may be hard to spot- it has relatively few signs that give it away. This is where many false pregnancies will begin to be apparent.
It is important to keep a female dog in estrus separated from other male dogs. Even trained female dogs will be forced to give way to hormones, so do not let a female dog in estrus out of sight. It is perfectly fine to enjoy normal activities, as long as a leash is kept on the dog at all times. It will be normal for male dogs to “hang around” the area for the period of time while the female dog is in heat- be sure to keep them separated or a pregnancy could result.
A dog in heat is usually easy to spot, unlike other pets such as cats. The cycle only comes around twice a year, which also makes the casual pet owner happy. If all else fails, going to get a dog spayed is a good possibility- this operation can be done even when dogs are still puppies. It is generally believed that a female dog should have a litter before being spayed, but a local veterinarian would be more than happy to do so before an unexpected litter arrives.
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