One of the most common causes of concern for owners of female dogs surrounds the bitches ‘heat’ or season this is the term used to describe the reproductive cycle.
The season consists of 4 distinct phases - proestrus, estrus, diestrus and anestrus, and during this time there will be behavioural, emotional and physical changes in the bitch, including of course bleeding from the vulva.
A bitches first season usually happens when they are between 6 and 12 months old, although can be younger or older, and occurs twice a year. While the length of each season can vary from dog to dog, the average length of each season is 3 – 4 weeks although some do have seasons that last as long as 6 weeks.
Despite this variation, once it is established it is often fairly regular.
During the season there may be some obvious changes in the behaviour and personality of the bitch, some of which will increase as the season progresses.
Changes in appetite
Clingy behaviour – or become aloof and ‘leave me alone’ instead.
Changes in obedience
Vulval swelling and increased licking of genitalia
‘Flirty’ behaviour to male dogs
Bloody discharge from vulva
Increased interest in male dogs, standing with hindquarters facing the male and moving her tail to one side, not protecting her genitalia.
How to manage during her season:
Supervise the bitch at all times.
If you have a male dog in the same household they should never be left unsupervised with an in season bitch as even neutered males will attempt to mate and can become ‘tied’ with the bitch.
Some people find it is best to try and find temporary care with a family member or a friend to look after the male dog to avoid accidental matings.
Some decide it is best not to take the dog out during this time but exercise instead in the house or garden – playing fetch, ‘find it’ and other games to keep their dog exercised.See here for more ideas : Keeping your cockapoo entertained
If you decide to carry on exercising outside the home, always ensure your dog is kept on a lead during this time, and if you can switch your walk times to times less likely to see other dogs about. If another dog is approaching in the distance you can also divert to another path way if available.
Avoid local parks and other routes well used by local dog areas and look for less used dog areas during this time.
Local dogs will get the scent of a bitch in heat and follow it so some recommend taking a bitch in season out in the car, away from the house, and walking them in a different area. This prevents dogs being able to follow the scent back to the home.
Increasing numbers of people use ‘bitch pants’ or disposable nappies when their bitch is in season, some just to prevent blood drops in the house, but others as a level of protection against the unwanted attentions of dogs when they are out, although they are not guaranteed to stop a determined dog from attempting to mate.
Bitches are usually very fastidious and clean themselves during this time but you may want to put an old towel or sheet on to protect furniture, although spotting is often minimal.
Abnormal Heat Cycles:
Like human females mother nature can also play a part in our bitches seasons and there can be abnormalities seen. Sometimes this maybe due to a medical issue, if dog is on medication or is approaching their senior years. An abnormality to your dogs season ,a trip to your vets is recommended in this instance.
Absent Heat : This is when the bitch fails to have a season when she is of an age of sexual maturity to have one or has had one before, and fails to have one when next cycle is due.
Split Season : These can be common in young bitches during their first cycle or if groups of bitches are housed together. It means that the season doesn't progress to the second stage. know as Estrus.
Silent Season : This is when the bitch is on heat but the signs she is are not as obvious and an owner can think her dog is not in season.
For further information on abnormal heat cycles in bitches please click here : www.pet-happy.com/abnormal-heat-cycles-in-female-dogs
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