How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat?

When a dog is in heat, it is also known as “estrus.” This word refers to one stage in the entire reproductive cycle, which is also called the estrus cycle. Being “in heat” sometimes refers only to this estrus stage itself, when the female is most receptive to mating, but more often also refers to the period before, called proestrus, as well. In heat, first estrogen levels increase. Then, they decrease drastically, and progesterone shoots up. Finally, mature eggs are released from the ovaries, and the proestrus and estrus cycles are over. It is very important to note that if you are considering having your female dog spayed, you should do it before she begins estrus for the first time.

When Does A Dog Get Their First Heat Cycle?

The first-time that estrus occurs is when the dog is between 6 and 24 months old. The earlier end of this age range usually corresponds to small dogs, with the later end corresponding to larger dogs. Some small dogs may even have their first heat cycle as early as 4 months; however, not all heats are fertile, and particularly not the first few. If you plan to breed, don’t do it during the dog’s first cycles. She simply hasn’t yet become fully mature – instead, consult your vet to know when to start. Once this first heat has occurred, your female dog will experience her estrus cycle for the rest of her life, so there will be plenty of opportunity for breeding. The length of the cycle during the dogs first season is often similar to that of subsequent cycles but each time the dog is in season you should begin to see a pattern in the cycles length.

How Often Do Dogs Go Into Heat?

The answer to this depends both on the individual dog and the dog breed. On average, however, an unspayed female will go into heat twice a year, about every six months. The timing can sometimes be seasonal, with the two annual cycles occurring between January and March or August and October. The smaller the dog, the more often it will go into heat – three times a year for the smallest breeds, and for some of the largest breeds, as rarely as once every two years.

How Can I Tell if My Dog Is In Heat?

While in heat, a dog’s nervousness and skittishness increase. She is more easily distracted, and may be in a near-constant state of alertness. Frequent urination, discharge, and bleeding will also be present. The dog’s vulva will be swollen and there will be changes in her behavior due to hormonal releases. When the female is ready to mate, she will initiate with other male dogs by raising her hind quarters whenever she is approached. She will also present by moving her tail to one side.


How long does each stage of the heat cycle last?
There are several stages to the heat cycle

There are two main stages to the complete estrus cycle. The first stage is the bleeding stage (proestrus) and the second stage is the mating stage (estrus). These two-together form what is typically referred to as “in heat.” After that, there are two further stages, called the diestrus and anestrus phases.

How Long Is Each Stage of the dogs period?

The heat cycle lasts anywhere from 2-4 weeks. Early on, a female dog won’t seem particularly interested in male dogs, although there are some breeds which are an exception to this. After that, there will be a small amount of time when your dog is most fertile, which might be nine or ten days after the initial stage, but remember that she can become pregnant through all of it. Let’s look at each stage in more detail.

How long does the Bleeding Stage Last?

The bleeding phase of a dogs heat cycle lasts roughly 10 days. The female dog will experience vaginal bleeding during this phase. The bleeding represents the dog’s body’s preparation for pregnancy, but she will not be ready yet. That means she likely won’t want to mate with a male during the bleeding stage. Sometimes, the blood and/or discharge will not show up until days after proestrus has begun. The amount and the timing will vary with the dog. Some dogs only ever emit a small amount of discharge while some others exhibit heavy bleeding every time.

The Mating Stage

How long can female dogs period last? The number of days will vary from dog to dog, but on average this part of the cycle lasts about 5 to 9 days. There may still be some bleeding and discharge, but it will have changed colour and become more clear. During this phase of estrus, the female dog will be susceptible to mating with any male. Other male dogs will be attracted to her, sometimes from far away, which means she will be receiving a lot of attention from any dogs in the neighbourhood. Dogs are excellent at finding a way to mate during this stage – if your female dog is unspayed and you don’t want her getting pregnant, you’ll need to ensure she is completely inaccessible for these days. This is the most common time for a dog to get hit by a car, so be careful!

The Diestrus Phase

This phase follows the estrus phase even if your female dog does not get pregnant. It lasts 6 to 10 weeks. During this time, her uterine wall will thicken. If she were going to have a false pregnancy, it would be during this stage, as she may have swollen mammary glands or could even be lactating.

The Anestrus Phase

The female dog will be in the anestrus phase for up to 15 weeks or more. She will have balanced, steady hormone levels and will not be receptive to mating. This stage lasts until the next proestrus stage begins, and the dog is in heat once more.

How long can female dogs period’s last?

As we’ve seen, this question isn’t as straightforward as it might have seemed. First, it depends which stages of the reproductive cycle you are referring to. Most commonly, people mean the proestrus and estrus phases. On average, this stage of the dog’s menstrual period lasts about 18 days, but the dog could stay in heat for as little as 12 days and as many as 25 days. These two phases are the bleeding stage and mating stage, with the mating stage being the only time the female is receptive to mating with a male.

How To Know When Heat Has Ended

Heat can only end one of two ways: pregnant or not. If the dog is pregnant, you’ll know heat has ended soon enough! If not: estrus has ended when there is no bleeding or discharge and the vulva is no longer swollen and has returned to normal size.

Can I Prevent My Female Dog From Going Into Heat?

Yes! As mentioned earlier, the best way to do this is to have her spayed before she goes into her first estrus phase. This will prevent the estrus phase altogether, and will also prevent accidental pregnancy. It also has the added benefit of decreasing her likelihood of breast cancer or other reproductive illnesses. It is an urban legend that having one litter of puppies before spaying is healthier for the mother.

When Is the Earliest I Can Spay My Dog?

Most vets can usually have a female dog spayed as early as when she is two months old. So long as it’s done before her first estrus, however, there is no other deadline to have it done by, so it can be better to wait as long as possible before that. Consulting your veterinarian first is always the best option you have, and he or she will be able to give you a good indication of when the best time for spaying is. It cannot occur during heat, and usually must take place around six weeks after, if it’s not done before the first estrus begins.

Why Should I Have My Dog Spayed?

Giving birth to and then raising a litter can dramatically shorten the life of your dog. There is also simply no need for any new puppies to be born right now – there are enormous numbers of homeless animals being euthanized every day that could be adopted instead. In some ways, allowing your dog to mate is irresponsible, unless you’re doing so for a very specific or professional purpose. As was mentioned already, as well, female dogs that are spayed before their first estrus cycle have a highly reduced risk of cancers in the reproductive system.

Is Spaying Dangerous?

There is always some inherent risk involved with a surgery. That’s as true for dogs as it is for humans. However, the benefits of spaying greatly outweigh the possible risks. It is very rare for spaying procedures to result in complications, but it’s very common for spayed dogs to have reduced risk of breast cancer. You can ask for pre-screening tests to be done that will ensure the vet knows everything it needs to know about your dog, if you feel this is necessary.

How Much Does Spaying Cost?

This obviously varies widely depending on where it’s being done, but could cost anywhere from $30 to $200. However, it’s important to remember that this is a permanent procedure – just a one-time cost. It can cost considerably more than this simply to remove a tumor or deal with complications from a pregnancy. These are both issues that spaying itself solves, and neither of them are solely one-time payments like spaying is.

How to Deal With the Bleeding Stage

So, after all that, you still have some good reason for not getting your dog spayed? Well you’ll have to deal with the bleeding stage, then. Ideally, your dog would clean herself. To some extent she will, but nonetheless, bleeding and spotting will almost inevitably leave a mess. You’ll likely have to keep a mop handy a couple times a year if you plan to breed your female dog and not get her spayed. Putting towels, pads, or newspaper down to absorb the blood is always an option. There are even doggy diapers for sale, if you’re willing to go that far.

A Lifetime of Estrus

As we have said, the decision not to spay your dog shouldn’t be taken lightly. She will be subjected for the estrus cycle for the rest of her life if you do not, as dogs do not have menopause the way humans do. After her first cycle, it may take time to regularize, with as many as 3 or 4 cycles passing before a regular routine is established. If you’re breeding, you should be keeping track of these cycles very closely. Remember that with small breeds, like Dachshunds or Yorkshire Terriers, it will occur more often, whereas with large breeds, like Great Pyrenees or St. Bernard’s, it will occur less often. As the female dog gets older, the bleeding stage may lengthen.

Pregnancy: How long does it last?

Assuming you have some good reason for it, suppose you’ve allowed your female dog to become pregnant after heat. This pregnancy will last 9 weeks, or 63 days, depending on the dog.

How Is the Pregnancy Detected?

There can be no detection during the first 3 weeks. After this, it takes an experienced veterinarian to detect it through palpation an earlier than 4 weeks. Later than that, ultrasounds can be used to detect the pregnancy.

What If My Dog Accidentally Gets Pregnant During Heat?

The only thing you can do in this situation is contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. If a mismate has occurred which threatens the health of the mother, injections can be used within the first few days after mating. Of course, there are huge risks associated with the use of these. Discuss it with your vet before proceeding.

If I Want My Dog To Get Pregnant, Are There Tests I Can Perform?

Yes! In fact, there are two tests. The first is called the vaginal smear test, and the second is called the serum progesterone test. Both can easily be performed at any veterinary clinic, and they will both tell you whether or not your female dog is ready to be mated.

Vaginal Smear Test

This is a microscopic examination of the female dog’s vaginal cells. Changes in appearance and number indicate susceptibility to the male dog’s semen. The test is non-invasive and reliable, but it can sometimes require repeating over the course of days to compare the results at different times before a conclusion is reached. Since heat can sometimes only last 5 days, you run the risk of missing your opportunity.

Serum Progesterone Test

This test is a direct measurement of progesterone levels in the blood. These will spike during the days to weeks that your female dog is in heat. It is accurate immediately and is very sensitive to progesterone levels early on. However, it requires drawing blood.

How Can Mating During Heat Be Guaranteed?

The timing of breeding dogs can be critical, since the timing of dogs in heat is also so critical. The previously mentioned tests should be performed if pregnancy is desired, so that the optimal breeding days can be determined. Usually, this optimal time is between 10 and 14 days after proestrus begins. It is also important for the male dog to be in a low-stress environment, otherwise he may be unable to perform – most successful matings occur when the female dog in heat is brought to the male dog’s home.

Can Dogs Being In Heat Together Change How Long It Lasts?

Yes. Having two female dogs together can result in their estrus cycles syncing up. This can change how long the dogs remain in heat for, with one’s cycle changing to adapt the other’s, or with both of them changing to meet somewhere in the middle.

How to Care for a Dog In Heat

The most important thing you can do for your female dog while she is in heat is to keep her indoors. Male dogs will be able to smell the pheromones she is releasing for miles around, and can also become quite aggressive. Furthermore, she may escape from an enclosed yard due to her desire to be mated with, and can then be hit by vehicles. Crating may sometimes be necessary, but make sure you are releasing her to exercise regularly. She will be easily agitated during this time, so be vigilant that usual stressors are not present in her life during her heat. You should also avoid bathing her, since bathwater can sometimes cause uterine infections.

Know Your Dog

The time that dogs remain in heat varies for each dog
The time that dogs remain in heat varies for each dog

Even though all of this is good information, it’s also important for you to take into account the specifics of your dog. There’s no hard and fast rule for exactly how long heat will last, or exactly when to spay, or exactly when she’ll be most fertile. These things can only be understood as averages, and knowing your specific dog will give you the extra details you need to know exact numbers. Things like tracking the estrus cycle manually, or ensuring that spaying happens early on before the dog’s first heat, are not just a way for you to get the best results for you, they’re also what’s best for the dog. After all, many of us love our dogs like our best friends, so shouldn’t we take good care of them while they’re around?

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