Do you know how many puppies a female dog can have in her lifetime? The average number of puppies per litter is five, so a dog can have up to 70 puppies throughout her life. That’s a lot of cute but naughty babies you’ll have to deal with. So you have to be prepared. Let’s go over the essential information about your dog in heat:

What Happens to Your Dog in Heat? – Signs and Symptoms

Like humans, dogs also deal with many hormonal body changes. And you can recognize them if you know the signs:


Do female dogs have periods? Yes, they do. Dogs’ bleeding occurs at the start of their period. It’s not ample, but it’ll definitely stain your floor. At the same time, you might notice some swallowing of the vulva.


It’s another sign of the dog heat cycle. She can be pretty moody and even growl at you. If you notice her avoiding you or not being interested in your company, especially if that’s not her usual behavior, this could be a sign of heat. If you want to help her calm down, you could try a CBD oil for dogs with anxiety.


At the other end of the spectrum, you might notice lovability. Mood swings are common in dogs, too. If your pet is very affectionate, looks for your company, and wants frequent strokes, this could easily be a heat sign.

Frequent Urination

You’ve probably noticed that dogs often communicate via urination. When your female dog is in heat, she’ll signal males by emitting a specific smell. So she’ll urinate more frequently to inform them she’s in mating season. Also, you can notice some changes in her posture while urinating.

Increased Appetite

Your dog will need more energy when preparing for mating, so she’ll likely want to eat more. But the opposite can happen, too. She can be less active and without any appetite.

Hiding or Running Away

In this period, female dogs instinctively want to find males for mating, so you should definitely keep an eye on your pet. She may want to run away in search of them or hide and tuck in her tail. That’s especially common in the Proestrus stage of the dog breeding cycle.

Let’s see what you can expect in each stage of the cycle.

The Four Dog Heat Cycle Stages

They’re called Proestrus, Estrus, Diestrus, and Anestrus.


This is the first stage, which usually lasts about nine days. That’s when you can see the very first signs — a swollen vulva and bleeding. Often, males would advance towards your furry companion, but she won’t be receptive. She can tuck in her tail as a sign that she’s not ready for mating yet.


The second stage of the dog period is Estrus. That’s when you can expect mating to happen. The female dog is fertile, and she’ll allow male advances. At that time, the dog discharge becomes watery. The stage usually lasts about nine days, but it could be shorter or longer depending on the dog and breed.

Another crucial thing to remember is that dog sperm can survive in the female dog’s body. That’s why a dog can get pregnant at more or less any point of the canine estrus cycle. 


In this stage, your dog won’t be fertile anymore. That usually lasts about nine days. During that time, the vulva will decrease in size, and the watery discharge will dry up. Also, your dog will start acting like her usual self with hormones balancing out.


The last stage is from the end of a heat cycle to the beginning of another, i.e., between Diestrus and Proestrus. That’s when the dog can take a break and prepare for her next fertility stage. Anestrus can last from 3 to 6 or even 12 months, depending on the breed and size.

When Do Female Puppies Go Into Heat?

If you have a female puppy, you need to be prepared before her first period. It can happen sooner than you think. Your puppy’s first heat cycle can occur between her 6th and 8th month of age. It’s the period in which dogs mature and become fertile.

You can accidentally miss it if you don’t know that and think it’s too early. Also, you might not notice any visible signs at first. That’s why you need to be extra observant at that time or have your dog spayed if you don’t want her to have puppies. If that’s the case, contact your vet for more information.

How Long Are Dogs in Heat?

Your dog’s heat cycle starts with the Proestrus stage and ends with the Diestrus stage. So, your dog will be in heat for up to three weeks. You’ll notice the signs clearly during the Proestrus and Estrus stages, lasting for around two weeks. After that, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Two Greyhounds kissing each other in a park

How Often Do Dogs Go Into Heat?

The number of times a dog goes into heat per year depends on the breed and size. Generally, the larger the dog, the less frequent she’ll go into heat.

Small-sized dog breeds go into heat more often — once every three months per year. So your furry companion can have three to four heat cycles a year. That’s a plus if you want to focus on breeding your dog.

In contrast, large dogs go into heat less frequently. It can occur once a year or once a year and a half. That can spare you some inconveniences and expenses if you don’t want more puppies.

Tips and Tricks for a Dog in Heat

If you haven’t neutered your dog, but you don’t want her to get pregnant, you can prevent that in several ways.

One of them is to put some menthol on her tail. Since dogs communicate through smell and menthol is very strong, it’ll cover your dog’s “I’m ready for mating” smell. If you or your dog don’t like this smell, you can try eucalyptus, lavender, or wintergreen.

You shouldn’t walk her without a leash during the dog heat cycle. She’ll likely run away, and you may not be able to get her before it’s too late. In these cases, it helps to have a GPS tracker for dogs to find her in no time. You can put it on her leash and track her location with an app.

But even if your pet is in your yard, you need to keep an eye on her, especially during the dog Estrus cycle. She might find a way to jump over the fence, or you might end up with male dog suitors coming to the yard.

Your dog’s bleeding can be a bit annoying unless you’re okay with stains on your floor and furniture. But you can prevent this by getting her sanitary pads or diapers for female dogs. 

There are a few types you can choose from. For instance, CuteBone Reusable Dog Diapers on Amazon are environmentally-friendly. You can use them multiple times by washing them after the dog menstrual cycle has ended. Plus, they look adorable.

Alternatively, you can choose a disposable option like Vet’s Best Comfort Fit Dog on Amazon. These diapers are dog-friendly and have a special opening for the tail. Also, they’re adjustable and come in different sizes. It doesn’t matter how big or small your dog is; they fit like a glove.

You can also keep track of your dog’s heat cycle in a diary or set reminders on your phone. That way, you’ll receive a notification about the approximate time of the next cycle and avoid any surprising or unpleasant situations.

How to Care for Your Dog in Heat

Why not make this period easier for you and your furry companion?

First, you need to ensure she feels comfortable at home, especially if it’s your dog’s first heat cycle. Also, you should shut all the spaces she could escape from.

To handle her irritability, you can get a soothing bed for dogs to help her sleep and feel better. Another remedy for her mood swings is HempMy Pet Hemp Seed Oil. It helps if your dog is anxious, stressed, or suffers from joint pain.

You need to keep her water bowl full at all times and ensure you feed her regularly. If you have any difficulties, contact your vet. They can give you the best advice for your dog.

Remember, if you’re planning on spaying your dog, you need to wait for at least a month after the canine heat cycle has ended. That’s when it would be safe for her.


Heat cycles can be unpleasant for your pet and all the household residents. But knowing what your dog goes through in the different stages can help you soothe her discomfort.

With patience, proper care, and our bits of advice, your dog’s heat cycle will go smoothly and effortlessly. If you’re planning on breeding your dog, it’s also good to learn all about the various stages of canine pregnancy.

A dog in heat occurs only once or twice a year, so it’s not a long period you should worry too much about.

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