A dog in heat goes through many different changes during the heat cycle. Most people know that an intact female dog goes into heat and can get pregnant, but many do not know when the bitch can get pregnant during the heat. It is important to know about a bitch's heat cycle if you have an intact female.
1. What is "heat?"
When a bitch goes into heat, her body is getting her eggs ready to be fertilized. A heat has four stages: proestrus, estrus, diestrus (also called metestrus) and anestrus. The bitch normally gets pregnant in the estrus stage (second stage of the heat).
2. How do I know if my bitch is in heat?
During the first stage-the proestrus stage-you will notice a red discharge. The discharge lightens throughout the stage, finally turning almost clear. You may also notice other dogs hanging around your house. When you notice your bitch is in heat, keep her sequestered, so you do not have an accidental litter. At this time, you might need to clean up after your dog more frequently or outfit her with a pair of doggie drawers.
3. How old is a bitch when she has her first heat?
Most bitches have their first heat at about six months, but some breeds, particularly larger breeds, may not have their first heat until 12 months of age or older. If your bitch still has not had her first heat by 14 months, you should take her to the vet.
4. How long will my bitch stay in heat?
The bitch's entire cycle is about 6 months long, but the first 3 stages (where the males will be chasing after her) lasts about 21 days. The fourth stage is the stage between heats and lasts five to six months.
5. How often does a bitch go into heat?
Bitches go into heat an average of twice per year.
6. At what point can my bitch get pregnant, and can she get pregnant in her first cycle?
Your bitch can only get pregnant during the second stage (estrus stage) of the heat cycle. The estrus stage lasts from 4 to 21 days, with an average of 7 days. The bitch can get pregnant in her first heat cycle, but for health reasons, you should plan a breeding during the second or third heat cycle. You should also keep her sequestered during the first heat cycle so there is not an accidental breeding.
Stay in touch with your vet if you are planning to breed your dog. Also, if you have dog health insurance, you may want to check your plan because the pregnancy and any resulting complications may not be covered. You may want to start saving for unexpected bills.