When do dogs have a first season and what to expect?
What is a season? A season (or heat) is when your female dog is fertile and can become pregnant. An un-neutered dog can expect to have their first season at around 6 months old although smaller breeds might be earlier than this and larger breeds could be anything up to 12 months old.
A typical season can last between 2-4 weeks, and you should find that your dog has 2 seasons per year although as she gets older her seasons will become more infrequent. Unless you get your dog spayed, you will find she has seasons throughout her entire life – unlike us humans who have the menopause to contend with! If you choose to get your dog spayed, her seasons will stop and she will no longer be able to get pregnant. Whilst it isn’t painful for a dog to be in season, she can feel uncomfortable and generally under the weather.
So, how do you know when your dog is entering a season? There are several physical signs that will indicate that a season has started:
· A large, red, swollen vulva (this can be quite significant and will reduce once the season is over although the vulva may remain slightly more pronounced after the first season for the rest of her life)
· Bleeding or a yellow/brown discharge from the vulva
· Excessive licking of their back end
· Urinating more than normal
· Appetite changes – your dog might be hungrier or go right off her food during the first week
In addition to the physical signs, you will probably see some behavioural changes too. You might find that she is overly friendly to other dogs or that she starts to roam, looking for a male mate. Your dog might also “tail tuck”. This is a reaction to guard the vulva by tucking the tail or sitting down when another dog approaches. It is also possible for your dog to try and run away when in heat so be extra vigilant during this time.
As we mentioned, whilst a season isn’t painful, your dog might be uncomfortable and out of sorts during this time. They might be a little confused too and so keep your pooch happy and distracted by playing games and going for walks – but stay away from other dogs. Your dog will want to mate during this time and so it is important to ensure she is supervised at all times to avoid unwanted pregnancy. When out walking with her, keep her on a lead at all times.
Dogs in season tend to bleed for approximately 10 days. Some dogs bleed quite heavily and in others it is barely noticeable. You might want to limit your dog’s access to carpeted areas of the house during her season. Personally we don’t recommend ‘nappies’ as your dog will want to keep herself clean with licking the area and they do a pretty good job of maintaining their own hygiene.
We hope this information is useful and will help to prepare you for your dog’s first season. Remember, we all love a bit of TLC and our pooches are no exception at this time.
Laura, Dolly & Reggie xxx