YOUR FEMALE DOG
Your little girl will usually become a woman between 6 and 9 months old, when she will have her first heat. It is not a cause for alarm and it is very easy to handle. A typical heat period lasts roughly three weeks.
THE HEAT CYCLE
- FIRST WEEK: (Proestrus) when her body is preparing to mate. It lasts for about 9 days. Her vulva will swell and she usually has a bloody discharge. She will start attracting males, but will not be receptive.
- SECOND WEEK: (Estrus) It is the mating phase and usually lasts about a week. Blood flow will stop. The vulva will be very swollen and your female dog will attract and accept males, so be very vigilant!
- THIRD WEEK: (Diestrus) It is the last part of the heat; her vulva returns to normal size and the vaginal discharge disappears completely; unless of course, your dog is pregnant (which lasts for 63 days).
HOW TO HANDLE THE HEAT
- BLOOD STAINS: the first week is when you'll have to deal with the blood on your floors and on your bed. I am lucky to have tiles in my downstairs where our dogs go in and out all day, so blood isn't a problem during the day and it is in such small amount, that I don't have to do much extra cleaning on my tiles (most of my females clean themselves during that time). However, the night is a problem as all our dogs sleep with us on our beds, so I simply have our female in heat wear a panty at night: here is one brand of FEMALE DOGS DIAPER PANTS (there are many on the internet, just make sure you get the right size). There is a hole specifically made for the tail... make sure that this hole is big enough, so that if your female poops, it doesn't get stuck on the panty (I have enlarged some with a pair of scissors to make it work better). Also, I put WOMEN MAXI PADS inside the pants, so the blood won't go on them and if my female pees in them, it's no big deal, I just put a new Maxi Pad. I would advise having 2 or 3 female panties, to have time to wash them... None of my females seems to mind being in heat and wearing their panty, and as for us, their heat goes almost unnoticed!
- GETTING PREGNANT: do not trust any male dog around your little girl! This is when you stop going to the park and she stays at home or gets walked on a leash. If you have a boy at home, there is no point in trying to separate them as he will beg and cry all night long and most likely destroy any door or gate standing between him and your young beauty in heat: he needs to wear a MALE BAND and because it is wide, I usually put 3 WOMEN MAXI PADS in there, so that he can pee in it, if needed. Then you can safely let the love birds together, everyone will be safe! But remember to be very careful when changing the pads or putting a new clean panty or band, it takes one second of inattention for an accident to happen... I usually rotate between my girl and my boy, so they both don't have to wear protection both at the same time... when it's all over, you will need to bath them.
HOW TO PREVENT THE HEAT
The only option is to have your girl spayed ... but is it really needed? Once a dog is fixed their temperament could change, their silky coat will definitely become coarser, they will have a tendency to become heavier... It is a matter of choice, often influenced by animal groups trying to prevent unwanted reproduction. Some say that dogs have greater chances to develop ovary cancer in old age when not fixed... I am not a firm believer in that theory. What I do believe is that it is NOT a huge problem to have a dog going through heats, it is part of life and with panties and pads, it is as easy to handle as a walk in the park! Regardless, this is YOUR girl and YOU should explore the subject in great depth before making any rash decision (do not rely entirely on your vet's opinion, do your homework, there is valuable information out there on the subject). But if you do decide to proceed and get your girl fixed, I am sure of one thing: THE LATER, THE BETTER! Wait until your demoiselle is almost all grown up; don't fix her until she is at least 1 1/2 YEARS OLD, or simply wait AFTER THE 3rd HEAT (never fix a female dog during a heat, but in between cycles, ABOUT 3 MONTHS AFTER SHE WAS IN HEAT). The reason why you don't want to fix your girl while she is young is that you don't want to disrupt her hormones while she is still growing, or it could really affect her body, especially her bones... SO DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO, BUT PLEASE DO NOT RUSH INTO IT & DO NOT FEEL PRESSURED BY SOME PUSHY VETERINARIANS: THE WELL BEING OF YOUR ADULT DOG IS MORE IMPORTANT!!!
YOUR MALE DOG
To be or not to be...
TO FIX OR NOT TO FIX???
Honestly, why fix your boy unless you really need to do it for health reasons? Once a dog is fixed their temperament could change, their silky coat will definitely become coarser, they will have a tendency to become heavier... It is really easy to use a MALE BAND with PADS when you need your male away from the ladies: I do it all the time! Some people will tell you, "Well my boy likes to mark his territory when we go visit families or friends"; my advice is for you to teach your boy not to do that, and if you are not successful, use a male band for safety on those visits, so he won't mark. But if you really have to fix your boy, then please wait until he is all grown up, so that you don't disrupt his growing hormones and you don't create health problems down the line. Ideally, wait until he is at least 1 1/2 or 2 years old. DO NOT RUSH & DO NOT FEEL PRESSURED BY SOME PUSHY VETERINARIANS: THE WELL BEING OF YOUR ADULT DOG IS MORE IMPORTANT!!!