How Long Does A Dog Stay In Heat?

Dogs make the best pets and are your best buddies. Spending time with your pet makes you feel happy and on top of the world. If you have a female pet, then she has to undergo an estrus cycle. This cycle is similar to the menstrual cycle of women. Your pet undergoes this cycle once every six months. When your pet gets its cycle for the first time, you might have wondered about its heat period also. You want to know how long does a dog stay in heat and the best time for mating. Let me explain it to you in detail.

How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat?

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To answer your question, it varies across breeds. Estrus is one of the steps in the breeding cycle of a dog. During this stage, a female dog is sensory to the male coupling. Initially, estrogen levels increase and then it decreases sharply. Small dogs attain this stage sooner than larger breeds. One heat cycle lasts for 18 to 24 days.

When Will Be the First Estrus?

Dog gets its first heat between 6 and 24 months. Small breeds tend to get it earlier than the big ones.


How Frequently Do Dogs Go Into Heat?

Generally, an unspayed female goes into heat twice a year. That is to say about once every 6 months. However, it varies across breeds.

How Do You Know Your Dog Is in Heat?

During estrus, your dog is easily distracted, nervous and is on higher alert than usual. These changes are due to hormones. Frequent urination occurs. Her hind is increased quarters to male dogs as they come closer. You can easily notice these changes. She deflects her tail to one side and stretches the rear legs.

Initially, vaginal discharge is bloodstained. Vulva of your dog is swelled. If she is attracted and receptive towards a male, then the flow of blood reduces and it is straw-colored.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Going Into Heat?

You can get your dog spayed to prevent accidental pregnancy and estrus. It also helps her to protect herself from reproductive system diseases and breast cancer.

When to Spay a Dog?

A veterinarian can spay your dog at as young as two months. Consult a vet regarding the specific age for sterilization. In many regions of the world, dog neutering is not allowed due to economic or cultural prohibitions. Dogs are not spayed until they have a reproductive disease or face any problems due to the estrus cycles. Conversely, all dogs are usually rendered sterile in the United States, at some point in life. The surgery most commonly performed is ovariohysterectomy, this includes removal of the uterus and both ovaries. In the case of male dogs, it is called castration, and this includes removal of the epididymis and both testes. Castration is normally known as neutering, although this term can be used for surgery of either gender. Together, these surgeries can be called as gonadectomy - that is the removal of the reproductive organs or gonads.


Surgery results in lack of secretion of progesterone and estrogen hormones in females. In the case of a male, removal of testes results in lack of secretion of the testosterone hormone. The absence of these hormones leads to decreases in physical changes and behaviors associated with the secretions. The associated behavior includes swelling of the vulva, heat behavior, estrous bleeding in female dogs, roaming in males and mounting. Reproductive hormones have an impact on body tissues. However, removal of reproductive organs results in the lack of secretion of the reproductive hormones. Lack of reproductive hormones has an adverse impact on the body tissues. The other minimal impact of hormonal changes includes constant rise in hormones. This, in turn, controls the secretion of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. Effects of these hormone changes on the reproductive systems are unknown to be positive or negative.

What Are the Consequences of Gonadectomy?

Gonadectomy decreases the sexually dimorphic behaviors seen in both dogs and bitches. Sexually dimorphic behaviors include urine marking in dogs and flagging in bitches. These behaviors become less evident after surgery. Animals tend to behave in the way prior to surgery. Behavior in the aftermath of the surgery includes a reduction of most forms of aggression. One of the documented studies shows that these dogs become more reactive to human behavior and express increased aggression towards family members. It may also result due to breed predisposition.

One study documented the development of senile behaviors after undergoing gonadectomy. However, the study was restricted to very few intact males in the group, and brain changes that were found do not support the results. The reduced trainability of female or male dogs is not evident in any of the studies.

Medical Consequences

Dogs have a number of medical benefits of spaying. These include:

Infection caused by Pyometra Bacteria, as this affects the uterus of the female dogs between 7 to 8 years of age. This bacteria causes a potentially serious infection. Symptoms include weight loss, depression, excessive water drinking, lethargy, anorexia, depression, excessive urination, vomiting, diarrhea, pale mucous membranes on the skin inside the mouth and nose, vaginal discharge, lethargy, inflamed eyes or abdominal distension. About 25% of unspayed dogs suffer from this infection before they reach 10 years of age. Spaying your bitch reduces the risk of getting infected.


Mammary or breast cancer is another major risk. Females not spayed prior to their first estrus cycle have a significant risk of developing mammary cancer. This is common among unspayed females. There are high chances of developing breast cancer if a female is not spayed after her second heat cycle. If your dog is in her first heat cycle, it is not too late. Consult your vet for surgery and reduce her risk of developing cancerous breast tumors.

Risk of stress, disease, and injury related to giving birth to puppies is always there. Conceiving and giving birth both are physically dangerous and it is stressful for a dog. Castrating eliminates these probable risks.

Dogs are less prone to uterus or ovarian cancer. Some breeds are more inclined to develop ovarian tumors. The risk is higher for older female dogs. Spaying your dog at the right time completely eliminates the risk of developing ovarian and uterine cancer.

Castrating – Solution for All Behavioral Problems

Few people believe that spaying a dog will relieve the dog from all behavioral problems. Spaying reduces undesirable behavioral problems faced during the heat cycle. Spaying does not assure behavioral changes in your dog. There are other factors like history, individual personality and physiology that affect the behavior patterns of dogs. If spaying brings about behavioral changes, these are not sudden but take place gradually. You cannot expect to see a great transformation from a devil to an angel. As hormonal factors affect the behavior pattern, noticing quick changes is not possible.

If you want your dog to be polite, it is still necessary you train them with basic skills and obedience. A Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) is always available to help you.

Note: If your dog is facing serious emotions like fear and aggression and you find it increased after spaying, consult your vet for adequate treatment.

Do Not Spay Until After First Heat

All the time you must have heard people saying that spaying a dog before its first heat will make your dog lose out on some of the medical benefits. But, waiting to spay your dog for these reasons will do no good for your dog. On the adverse, you are making your dog more vulnerable to serious medical problems. The best time to spay your dog is between 6 and 12 months of age. That is to say, before your dog attains sexual maturity.

Letting Her Have One Litter Calms Her Down

This is not a trick to calm down your dog. Follow two basic things that help your dog stay calm. Training your dog politely and accompanying with regular exercise will do her a lot of good. She will control her impulses gradually without any external stimulus. Regular exercise teaches her basic manners and provides an outlet for her excess energy. 30 minutes of aerobic exercise along with plenty of mind games results in polite behavior. Attaining the heat cycle brings polite behavior in some of the puppies. You can consult a professional trainer to train your dog.

How Much Does it Cost to Spay a Dog?

Cost of spaying depends on the weight of the dog. It costs around $45 to $135 at a low-cost clinic. In case it is a complicated surgery then it costs about $50 to $175. There are some hospitals or clinics charging around $200-$300. Cost varies in accordance with the geographical region and the doctor.

Spaying or Neutering Includes

  • Neutering involves making an incision in front of the scrotum, removing the testicles and stitching the incision.
  • In the case of spaying, the incision is made in the abdominal wall, then the uterus and ovaries are removed and the incision is stitched.
  • Spaying or neutering requires general anesthesia.
  • Neutering benefits include reduction in undesirable behaviors, roaming, and aggression towards other male dogs, inappropriate mounting and urine marking
  • Spaying prevents female dogs from reproductive bleeding, mammary tumors, infection and uterine tumors.
  • You can find more benefits of neutering and spaying on the list provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

What Are the Additional Costs of Spaying or Neutering?

  • If your dog is obese or in its heat, spaying costs about $25 extra.
  • Spaying a dog during its pregnancy costs about $50 to $125 extra.
  • Testicular implants are available for male dogs. One pair’s cost ranges from $94 to $919.
  • If you are opting for laser surgery for your dog, it will add cost up to one-third more or one-quarter more. Laser surgery is more precise, prevents swelling and reduces pain.
  • Pre-anesthesia blood work is offered by most of the vets. This is to make sure the kidneys and liver of the dog are working fine. It costs about $40.
  • An injection before surgery and a tablet later is part of extra pain medication and it costs between $10 and $30.

Most of the humane societies and animal shelters make their adoption fee inclusive of the cost of gonadectomy.

The surgery becomes free (rarely) in the case of programs involving veterinary students. This depends on breed-specific legislation of the particular local governments. In the case of pit bulls, Pit Bull Rescue Central offers a lot of resources to Pit Bull guardians in this regard.

What Are the Losses of Spaying?

Spaying involves some detriments. Some of the potential losses are:

  • Spayed dogs are easily prone to urinary tract infections.
  • Dogs may become aggressive after spaying towards its family members. This is due to a decrease in the hormones oxytocin and estrogen. As these hormones have anti-anxiety and calming effects.
  • Dogs spayed before reaching their adult size may grow taller than the ones that are not.
  • Spay incontinence or estrogen-responsive urinary incontinence is seen among 5 % to 20 % of the spayed dogs. This results in poor sphincter control and they are able to hold urine for a lesser extent. One of the studies points out that the risk is higher among the dogs spayed at less than three months and overweight dogs. This can be addressed with medical treatment.
  • There are slightly higher chances of spayed dogs developing hemangiosarcoma, transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder and osteosarcoma, especially in predisposed breeds.
  • Dog’s appetite and metabolism are affected by the physiological changes that happen after spaying. Spaying puppies below the age of five months can gain more weight than ones that are later spayed. You can help your dog overcome this by making your dog undergo regular exercises. Increase the exercises and reduce the food intake of the dog. Further, you can consult the vet for more details.
  • Risk of developing hypothyroidism is higher among spayed dogs.
  • There are high chances of developing cranial cruciate ligament rupture and hip dysplasia among puppies spayed before five months. The risk is higher for breeds that are predisposed.

However, you will find that spaying is relatively beneficial compared to the loss. Further, your vet will explain to you in detail the pros and cons of the process.

I hope I have answered your question of how long do dogs stay in heat correctly. If you have found it useful and wish to express your response, please drop them in our comments section. Let all know about the smart way you have chosen to take care of your cute pet.


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