Heat is the equivalent of human menstruation, when women have their periods every month because the lining of the womb breaks down. In female dogs, heat is more correctly called the oestrous cycle. As in humans, heat can be a painful and stressful time for female dogs, so be sure to recognise the dog heat symptoms and deal with them as best you can.
As human females do during their periods, the first dog heat symptom that you will observe is that the dog bleeds from their vagina. This can also lead to swelling of the vulva and more urination, so brace yourself for cleaning up. However, although the dog will bleed, it will not be in amounts comparable to the bleeding of humans during their periods: there will only be a small amount of blood. If the dog is young, it may be harder to identify their dog heat symptoms so be really astute about watching for your puppies first oestrous cycle.
That said, a female dog normally doesn’t come into heat until at least six months of age. Like in humans, some start earlier and some start later, so don’t be shocked if it comes at four months or even fourteen months. However, if she reaches fourteen months and still hasn’t had an oestrous cycle, make sure you consult a veterinarian as this is akin to a female human reaching seventeen and still not having had a period.
While the heat cycle lasts, you will continue to see dog heat symptoms. The cycle lasts on average three weeks, although in some dogs it is two weeks and in others it is four. This cycle repeats every six to eight months, which means your dog will often be in heat twice a year.
Another symptom of the heat cycle is that male dogs hang around your front door more or try and reach your heat-suffering dog. The dog will also appear restless and will have a mood change, becoming more sombre.
Remember that just as in human periods, dogs do not enjoy their heat and so you must be sensitive. On walks, be gentle (and be sure to keep any male dogs at bay), and in the house, leave her alone. More often than not she will want to be left alone, and if not, she will seek attention on her own terms.
So, the main dog heat symptoms: bleeding from the vagina, increased urination, restlessness and a change in mood. You may well observe other symptoms, but these are the main ones to look out for in your dog. All good dog owners know their dogs well, and so it should be easy to tell when your dog is in heat.
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