How long does a dog stay in heat? (2023)

If you have a female dog, who hasn’t been spayed you may well be wondering how long does a dog stay in heat. Lifestyle changes, such as keeping your dog on lead during heat and walking in low-traffic areas, can be good to plan for - so knowing how long your dog will stay in heat is useful.

Your dog could actually be experiencing the estrus cycle before you even notice any of these five signs your dog is in heat. If you can, keep watching for the first signs of swelling of their vulva or discharge to get a clearer idea of the starting date.

Alongside physical signs that your dog is in heat, behaviourally they may have a loss of appetite during their cycle, even turning down the best dog treats. As a heat cycle can go on for a number of weeks, it’s important to get your dog checked by the vets if they don’t eat anything in 48 hours.

So, just how long can you expect your dog to stay in heat? Read on to discover more about your dog’s heat cycle.

(Video) How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat || How long does a dog stay in heat bleed

Caroline Wilkinson

Caroline Wilkinson is a Certified Animal Behaviourist. She is a Full (assessed) Member of the APDT and INTODogs – as well as a Registered Training Instructor (ABTC). Caroline is also a Certified Real Dog Yoga Practitioner and an Applied Canine Zoopharmacognosist.

How long does a dog stay in heat?

Female dogs who have not been spayed will experience heat cycles, also known as estrus or the reproductive cycle. During this period, the female dog in question is capable of becoming pregnant - if this is a concern of yours you can read our vet’s guide on how to tell if a dog is pregnant. Bitches start experiencing this cycle when they reach sexual maturity - this can be as young as a few months old or can occur later on up until even two years of age, depending on the breed of the dog and the individual themselves.

The heat cycle comprises four stages: proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus.

Proestrus is the first stage, lasting around seven-10 days. It is characterized by a swollen vulva and bloody discharge. According to the MSD Veterinary Manual, during this phase “Females attract males but will not allow mounting”.

(Video) 🐶 How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat 👀

Estrus is the period where the female is both receptive to males and able to get pregnant. Estrus lasts around five-10 days during which ovulation occurs, usually around two to three days after mating according to the Veterinary Manual. During this period, females may exhibit behavior changes - more barking and urination, alongside a desire to access male dogs.

The third stage, diestrus, brings change whether the dog has become pregnant or not. If the dog is pregnant, this stage lasts until the pups are born. If not, then you will see the vulva returning to its usual size and the desire for male dogs decreasing. During this stage, the reproductive system prepares for another cycle.

The fourth and final stage, anestrus, is a period of rest for the reproductive system until the next heat cycle begins which is usually around six months later.

The duration of the main fertile part of the heat cycle varies depending on the breed and the individual dog. It can last anywhere from two to three weeks. During this time, it’s important to keep your female dog away from male dogs unless mating is desired.

How do I know when my dog has finished her heat?

As a pet guardian, it’s important to understand when your dog’s cycle is complete so that you can go back to allowing them time off the leash or interacting with other dogs. While the length of a dog’s cycle can vary, the signs that it is coming to an end are usually consistent.

Watch out for your dog’s vulva returning to its normal size and any bleeding or discharge disappearing. Your dog’s behavior should also return to normal - less frequent urination, reduced desire for male dogs, and a return to their usual hunger and energy levels.

It’s worth remaining vigilant in terms of your dog’s interactions with male dogs for at least a week after you see all signs of heat have disappeared.

How long does a dog stay in heat? (2)

(Video) How long does a dog in heat bleed?

Are dogs in heat in pain?

While we aren’t completely sure if dogs experience discomfort during heat, it is generally agreed that they aren’t in large amounts of pain. However, there are a lot of changes being experienced by a dog in heat which can impact them beyond pain.

Physically they may feel uncomfortable due to an increased need to urinate and desire to keep clean. You may see your dog licking themselves more frequently - if so, be sure to check for other causes behind this as excessive licking in dogs can mean more than one thing.

Hormonal changes can cause anxiety in dogs and bring on feelings of stress. They may experience lethargy and a loss of appetite as well - here are 11 things to check when your dog is not eating. These symptoms are all usually short-lived and your dog will return to normal once their cycle is complete.

How long does a dog stay in heat? (3)

Can a dog get pregnant while bleeding in heat?

It is a common misconception that a dog cannot get pregnant during the bleeding stage of a heat cycle. Pet parents may think of the bleeding stage as similar to menstruation in women, which happens when fertilization of an egg has not occurred. In dogs, however, the bleeding stage occurs at the start of the cycle and throughout the fertile days.

It’s important to take necessary precautions and ensure your dog is properly supervised around other dogs - or avoid them altogether - to ensure unwanted pregnancies do not occur during the bleeding phase of a heat cycle.

How long does a dog stay in heat? (4)

(Video) When to breed your dog when they are in heat

Should you let a female dog go into heat before spaying?

If you have decided to spay your female dog earlier on in their life, you may be questioning whether or not to allow them to go into heat before the neutering occurs. As with the entire conversation around whether or not to neuter your dog at all, the best time to neuter your female dog is also up for debate.

Allowing your dog to have one heat cycle (or more) may provide them a longer period of time to develop both physically and emotionally without the impact neutering has on natural hormone production.

One study found that “Neutered dogs were more aggressive, fearful, excitable, and less trainable than intact dogs”. However, it is thought that spaying later in a female dog’s life has less impact on behavior - that those dogs that are neutered earlier are more likely to have behavioral issues. It’s also worthwhile noting that behaviorial problems can be a result of a whole host of problems, you will find our vet’s guide on how to deal with a badly behaved dog helpful if you’re struggling to control your canine.

Early spaying brings the physical benefits of reduced chance of mammary tumors. However, spaying too early can have an impact on a dog’s physical growth. As documented by another study, “Bitches spayed at seven weeks had significantly delayed closure of growth plates as compared to those spayed at seven months, and those spayed at seven months had significantly delayed closure of growth plates as compared to those left intact”.

It is important to note that there is currently no definitive answer as to whether neutering at all, or early / late neutering, is the right choice for every single dog. Discussing the individual merits or potential fallouts for your own dog with your veterinarian and behaviorist is the best way to determine whether or not to let your dog go into heat before spaying.

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(Video) How long will a male dog be attracted to a female in heat?


How long does a dog stay in heat? ›

Heat usually lasts between 2-4 weeks. Early in the cycle, a female dog may not be receptive to male dogs, although some are receptive through the entire cycle. It can be shorter or longer and you'll know the cycle is over when all her vulva returns to its normal size and there's no more bleeding or discharge.

How long is a dog in heat bleed? ›

How long does a dog in heat bleed? Dogs in heat tend to bleed for approximately a week to 10 days. Some dogs bleed very heavily and others so lightly that it's barely noticeable.

What are the 4 stages of a dog in heat? ›

The dog estrous cycle is made up of four stages. These are the proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. The proestrus is the most obvious stage, while the other stages are more subtle.

How long after a dog stops bleeding is she still fertile? ›

After about 9-10 days, the bleeding will become more watery, or stop. It is at this time your female will, most likely, be at her most fertile. This proestrus stage can last as long as 20 days in some dogs. So the end of bleeding can be a more useful indicator of peak fertility.

At what age does a dog stop going into heat? ›

There is no menopause in dogs, so older female dogs continue to have heat cycles, but they will become further apart and her fertility will decrease.

How do you know when dog heat is over? ›

Heat usually lasts between 2-4 weeks. Early in the cycle, a female dog may not be receptive to male dogs, although some are receptive through the entire cycle. It can be shorter or longer and you'll know the cycle is over when all her vulva returns to its normal size and there's no more bleeding or discharge.

Can a female dog get pregnant while bleeding? ›

A: A dog is said to be in heat when they are in the proestrus and estrus stages of their reproductive cycle. During proestrus and estrus a dog will have bloody discharge from the vulva, and during estrus, a dog can get pregnant.

Should you let a female dog go into heat before spaying? ›

Q: Should I let my dog have a heat before I spay her? A: Medically, it's better to spay your dog before their first heat. It greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors. People who wait to spay their dogs until after their second heat greatly increase the risk of mammary tumors in their pets.

How often do female dogs go into heat? ›

Most dogs come into heat twice per year, although the interval can vary between breeds and from dog to dog. Small breed dogs may cycle three times per year, while giant breed dogs may only cycle once per year. When young dogs first begin to cycle, it is normal for their cycles to be somewhat irregular.

How many days will a female dog let a male mount her? ›

The sperm will last inside her for about five to seven days, so if you breed her as soon as she is willing, then breed her again every two or three days until she is no longer willing to allow the male to mount; this means all of her eggs will be fertilized.

Do female dogs change after being spayed? ›

The short answer is- yes it will. Spaying and neutering both involve making permanent changes to your dog's reproductive system, whether male or female. Dogs' hormonal systems change based on their reproductive system, just like in humans! Hormones are in part responsible for some of our behaviors.

When should a female dog be spayed? ›

When should I spay my female dog? We recommend waiting until your dog is at least over 6 months and likely even older for larger dogs. The benefits are much more pronounced in larger dogs, but there is not a lot of difference for lap dogs.

Do female dogs cry when in heat? ›

Increased vocalization: Dogs in heat may become more vocal to try to get attention, including moaning, whining, and crying. Increased urination: Female dogs may urinate more often as a way to attract a mate because their urine contains pheromones.

How can I speed up my dogs heat cycle? ›

How to Induce Heat in Dogs: 3 Drug-Free Ways
  1. Diet: Be certain she is on an appropriate diet. ...
  2. Breeder's Edge® B Strong™: Add Breeder's Edge® B Strong liquid or powder to the female's food ration. ...
  3. Sunlight: Assure that your girl is getting adequate amounts of daylight or daylight-like artificial light.
Feb 17, 2020

What is a silent heat in dogs? ›

Some dogs experience a condition called silent heat, in which they do ovulate but the characteristic signs of being in heat, such as vulvar swelling and discharge, are not observed. Although rare, some dogs may also have an autoimmune disease that affects their ovaries and interferes with estrous cycling.

What are three stages of dog in heat? ›

Your puppy's heat cycle has three phases: proestrus, estrus, and diestrus. Each stage is important to understand if you're looking to breed.

What happens at the end of a dogs heat? ›

Stage 3: The End of a Dog's Heat Cycle

It includes reswelling of the vulva and pink discharge, and she will not accept a male. As this final stage ends, the vulva returns to normal and the discharge tapers off.

What time of year do dogs go into heat? ›

Female dogs cycle into heat on average every six months. But this can vary, especially in the beginning, so it's a good idea to keep track. It can take some dogs 18-24 months to develop regular cycles. Small dogs will tend to go into heat more frequently, as much as three or four times a year.

Why do dogs whine when they are in heat? ›

When female dogs enter the estrus portion of their cycle, vocalizing becomes even more common, particularly if you also have an intact male in the house. Moaning, whining, crying, and even screaming serve as a form of "mating call" to male dogs throughout the neighborhood.

Is it bad for a 1 year old dog to have puppies? ›

However, just as with older dogs, even though a dog can have puppies from this age it doesn't mean they should. To make sure the female is in the perfect condition for pregnancy you should wait until they're fully grown. This happens at around one to two years for smaller breeds and two to three years for large breeds.

What happens if a female dog gets pregnant by her son? ›

Offspring from a mother-son mating would, therefore, have a 25% chance of inheriting two bad copies of the mutations that have been passed down to the son. This is a greater than 100-fold risk compared to an outbred dog! Inbreeding in dogs has real consequences.

How much does spaying cost? ›

While there are a lot of variables, spaying will typically run $50–$500. Costs at the low end of that spectrum are typically subsidized through a public agency. "There are many low-cost spay and neuter clinics around the country to help make the process more accessible to all pet owners," Moore says.

Should female dogs have at least one litter? ›

It's a very common misconception that a female dog should have one litter before being spayed (neutered). Not only is it an out-dated concept, with no evidence to support that breeding a litter is either physically or psychologically beneficial to a dog.

What happens if I spay my dog after her first heat? ›

We know that spaying before the first heat cycle reduces the incidence of mammary cancer by 99.5% while spaying after the first heat cycle but before the second decreases the incidence by 92%. Spaying after the second heat cycle decreases the incidence rate by 74%.

Is it painful for a dog to be in heat? ›

Even though your dog will bleed, she isn't in pain during heat. However, being in heat can make your dog uncomfortable and fidgety. If her symptoms seem to be causing her pain, consult your vet.

Do female dogs in heat look for males? ›

Flirtatious Behavior: Once a dog enters the estrus phase of her cycle, she is receptive to the attention of male dogs and might seek it out. She might start to present her rear and flag her tail to one side when around male dogs as an invitation.

Why do female dogs hump? ›

Whether you call it humping, mounting or thrusting, the behavior is natural in male and female dogs. For some dogs, it is a response to arousal. For others, it can just be a way to exert dominance and show that they're the top dog in the house.

What not to do when your dog is in heat? ›

Avoid off-leash walks or taking trips to the dog park.

A dog in heat may cause aggression among male dogs and could result in fighting (even if the dogs are neutered). It's best to avoid this altogether by skipping trips to the dog park or off-leash activities until your dog no longer shows signs of being in heat.

How far can a male dog smell a female in heat? ›

To get to the heart of your question, male dogs have excellent senses of smell and can sense an intact female in heat up to 3 miles away. Dogs have geographic territories, and they can generally detect any intact females within those boundaries.

What do you feed a female dog in heat? ›

Diet during Heat Cycle

Make sure your dog laps up a lot of liquids, be it water, chicken soup, or electrolytes as this will keep her energized. Fiber-rich food items like oats will keep her digestion in check. Offer her tasty food items. This can be anything that she likes in general.

How do you unstick a dog when mating? ›

Dogs new to mating may experience a bit of anxiety at being locked together, but it's a natural process. Help your dog to remain calm and stand still until the two can safely separate. This will occur on its own once the male dog's arousal subsides.

What happens if you pull dogs apart when mating? ›

It's totally normal for dogs to get stuck together after mating. It's called a “copulatory tie”. Don't do anything to try to separate the dogs, especially pull them apart by force, which could hurt them! Stay calm and wait for the dogs to unstick themselves.

What should be in a dog whelping box? ›

A whelping box. An absorbent material for the whelping box, such as newspapers (but these may become sodden quickly and often stay wet and cold), puppy pads, incontinence pads or vetbeds. Clean towels or paper towels to help clean up during labour. Towels for drying and cleaning up the puppies.

Will a male dog still mate with a spayed female? ›

You're probably wondering, where's the happy ending and the positive message? Well, for those of you who are afraid to neuter your pet because you're sad he'll never have a chance to mate, you can nix that excuse off your list. The take home message here is that your neutered dog can still have sex. If he wants.

How do you stop Zoomies after spaying? ›

When you're not home you can use their crate, exercise pen, baby gates, or confine them to one room. If you are home consider using a leash inside to make sure they don't run off and get the zoomies or speed off every time the doorbell rings.

Are police dogs neutered? ›

Are police dogs neutered or spayed? The majority of police dogs are not neutered, although some females are spayed because of their heat cycles.

What are female dogs like after being spayed? ›

She may cry or moan a little, and might just feel like sleeping. It's important to let her rest, keeping her still will be essential for an uneventful recovery. It often takes a day or two for pets to feel like themselves again. It can also take a couple of days for them to pass faeces.

Do female dogs calm down after being fixed? ›

The short answer is that no, your dog isn't likely to be less hyperactive after getting spayed or neutered. It won't change their personality much, if at all. Each dog has its own positive and negative social habits.

What to do after your dog gets spayed? ›

Following the instructions below will help ensure your pet has a safe and comfortable recovery.
  1. Limit Activity. ...
  2. Keep Them to a Regular Diet. ...
  3. Keep the Incision Dry. ...
  4. Check Their Incision Twice Daily. ...
  5. Monitor Pain Levels. ...
  6. Keep In-Heat Females Away From Males. ...
  7. Look Out for Complications. ...
  8. Call if You Have Concerns.

Do female dogs misbehave when in heat? ›

Some signs of a female dog going into heat may include lower energy levels, more aggressive behavior, differences in leg-raising while urinating, urinating more often than usual, and even running away from home. This is unlike male dogs, who do not experience heat cycles.

Where do you put Vicks on a dog in heat? ›

Mask the female dog's smell by spraying menthol on her tail.

A menthol spray, such as Vick's vapor rub, helps overpower the female dog's scent during heat. Just apply the spray several times a day to the female's tail so your male dog can't smell her as well.

What are the signs of a puppy's first season? ›

Dogs usually have their first heat at around 6 months old, and then every 6-7 months afterwards. Each heat tends to last approximately 16-18 days. Signs of a heat include a swollen vulva (private parts), bleeding, and changes in behaviour.

Is there a spray for dogs in heat? ›

Formulated with essential oil of geranium, Francodex No Flirt Spray helps mask the odour of female dogs in heat. Use during the entire period of heat, it helps keep males away from the female.

What dogs suffer most in heat? ›

Flat-faced dogs such as pugs, Boston terriers, French bulldogs, English bulldogs and shih tzus are more sensitive to heat because they suffer from brachycephalic airway syndrome (BAS). These types of dogs have small nasal openings and long soft palates in the back of their mouths, which limits airflow.

Is it possible for a dog to be in heat and not bleed? ›

Silent Heat Cycle

This occurs when your female will have a heat cycle without the normal symptoms such as bleeding and swelling of the vulva. Females will still be receptive to males and can become pregnant. Your veterinarian can check for a silent heat cycle by performing vaginal cytology and progesterone assays.

What is a split heat? ›

A split HVAC system is an air conditioning system or heating system that has both indoor and outdoor units that are connected with copper tubing.

How long do labs bleed in heat? ›

Most female Labradors bleed for anywhere from 7 to 10 days while in heat. Despite common beliefs, dogs don't actually bleed a lot, and you may not even realize your Lab is bleeding in the first place unless you're paying close attention.

How often does a female dog bleed? ›

Female dogs do not have periods every month. While it is true that female dogs will bleed when they come into season, this only occurs once every six to eight months. In between seasons, female dogs do not experience any bleeding or discharge.

What is the best age to spay a female dog? ›

When should I spay my female dog? We recommend waiting until your dog is at least over 6 months and likely even older for larger dogs. The benefits are much more pronounced in larger dogs, but there is not a lot of difference for lap dogs.

At what stage of heat does a dog bleed? ›

1. Proestrus: The beginning of heat lasts between 7 and 10 days. During this time, the vulva begins to swell and your dog begins to bleed.

What to do when your dog is in heat for the first time? ›

How to Care for Your Dog While She's in Heat
  1. Avoid off-leash walks or taking trips to the dog park. A dog in heat may cause aggression among male dogs and could result in fighting (even if the dogs are neutered). ...
  2. Get doggie diapers. ...
  3. Keep your dog indoors. ...
  4. Give your dog extra attention.

Is a dog still in heat after bleeding stops? ›

Once the bleeding stops, the second stage of the dog heat cycle, called the estrus stage, has begun. Many people make the mistake of thinking their dog's estrus is done at this point, but this second stage is actually when your dog can become pregnant.

Can I bathe my dog during menstruation? ›

Pethelpful recommends showing your dog a little extra love and attention during this time. Keep an eye on her appetite and give her frequent baths to clean up any discharge.

Why does my female dog keep licking her private area? ›

In the dog world, a moderate degree of licking is part of normal grooming behavior. For example, a male or female dog may lick the genital area after urinating as a means of cleaning the area.


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