When a female dog or ‘bitch’ encounters their first reproductive cycle, it is normally around the age of 6 months, sometime a little earlier. The female will be on ‘heat’ for about three weeks and this stage will be repeated every 6 to 8 months. If you want to avoid your dog having puppies, you need to be aware of a few things to stay ahead of the game.
You will be able to tell when your dog is coming into season because a female dog can become very restless or will have the need to go out and relieve herself more often; a show of blood will make an appearance and the area round the vulva will become more swollen.
Early bleeding may be noticeable either on the bedding in her basket or on the floor; smaller dogs tend to have less bleeding than larger breeds.
If you take your female outside for walks at this stage, you may suddenly find uncastrated dogs will appear in the hope of mounting her. A female that would not normally be bothered will find she is just as attracted to male dogs as they are to her at this time.
It can be surprising how dogs from a wide area can sense that there is a female dog in heat; they seem to turn up from nowhere and will go to surprising lengths to get their ‘wicked’ way.
Do not leave your bitch unsupervised outside, even when letting her out for a toilet break – dogs have been known to jump into a garden area to get to a female in heat.
If male dogs do approach, be careful; they can become aggressive with the scent of a female in heat.
Wherever possible, keep a female in heat indoors as much as you can and restrict her to areas where she can feel comfortable, such as uncarpeted areas in the house.
Use old jumpers or piece of blankets that can be washed or thrown away at the end of her cycle. Alternatively, there are actually ‘dog pants’ that the female can wear when she is in heat.
Ask your vet about spaying if you know you do not want your dog to have puppies.
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