How long is a dog in heat? A female dog, known as a bitch, has a heat cycle that lasts about six months. There are four stages to a heat cycle. If you have a bitch that is not spayed, you must keep her secluded during the three to four weeks of stages one through three.
Stages Of The Heat Cycle
The stages are proestrus, estrus, diestrus (also called metestrus) and anestrus. The first stage (proestrus) lasts anywhere from 1 to 17 days, depending on the bitch. The average for most bitches is nine days. This is the stage where you may notice red discharge. Throughout this stage, the discharge becomes lighter until it is almost clear. Male dogs will be lurking around your house, so you will need to keep her inside and stay with her when you go out. She may also need doggie diapers.
The estrus stage lasts from 4 to 21 days. During this stage, the bitch may "flag," or rub her rear end on walls, fences and other objects. She may also lift her tail. It is during this stage that the bitch becomes pregnant if she ties with a male.
The metestrus stage, which is the third stage, is the stage when the eggs attach to the uterine wall if they are fertilized. If the eggs are not fertilized, the bitch quickly moves into the fourth stage. While the third stage averages 7 days for most bitches, it can last from 4 to 14 days. During this stage, you may see false pregnancies.
The fourth stage, the anestrus stage, is the time between heats. It generally last from five to six months. At this time, you can let her out again, and you won't have to worry about the diapers.
When To Expect Heat Cycles
Your dog will have her first heat cycle when she is six months old, but it might take a year for some larger breeds. If it takes a long time for your dog to enter into her first heat cycle, you should visit the vet.
If you plan to breed your pet, dog health should come first. Learn as much as you can about breeding, and discuss options with your vet. Otherwise, consider spaying your dog.
Also keep in mind that, if you do not spay your dog, the dog will go into heat throughout her adult life, twice a year in most cases. Female dogs do not get menopause. The only difference is that your dog will not go into heat as often as she gets older.