It’s important to predict when your female dog will come in heat. Especially if you are in the dog breeding business. A lot of planning goes into the timing of mating. You must know how to calculate the time of your dog’s heat as each mating then can be as productive as possible. While it would be great to have a portable dog heat cycle calculator, figuring out when your female dog will come into heat isn’t as hard as it sounds.
As we’ve mentioned in prior articles, unless your female dog is to be used for dog breeding, we strongly recommend to spay your little girl when she is a puppy. Same for your male dog, neutering him when he is a puppy is highly beneficial for your little guy and your sanity. Avoiding an unwanted pregnancy is a big one of course.
Even if you are not a breeder, but you have an unspayed female dog, knowing when she will be in heat will make your life easier for both you and her.
Table of Contents
- How do you calculate your dogs heat cycle?
- What are the 4 stages of a dog in heat?
- How do you determine the best time to mate your dog?
- What progesterone level indicates ovulation in dogs?
How do you calculate your dogs heat cycle?
The surest way to know when your dog will come into her heat cycle is to count the months between two heats. Typically dogs go in heat twice a year which gives you five to eight months between each of her two heats. Note that a dogs heat cycle happens throughout the year. Whereas a cat’s heat cycle is dependent on the season. That means it’s always breeding season in the canine world.
If your dog is healthy and has reached sexual maturity, she will follow a stable pattern. Regardless if your dog goes into heat twice a year or three times a year, you will be able to predict ovulation timing if you keep a calendar of your dog’s heat.
If you see that your dog goes into heat every five months like clockwork, you’ll be able to calculate when your dog will come into heat.
Of course, not always things go smoothly, and some dogs may cycle infrequently, taking several months between two heats and some more months between the other two heats.
In normal conditions, a dog’s heat cycle frequency stabilizes as the dog matures. If it isn’t, you should talk to your veterinarian about possible causes and whether your dog should be allowed to breed.
What are the 4 stages of a dog in heat?
To better understand your female dogs heat cycle, it’s important to know the 4 different stages of the dog heat cycle. The canine estrus cycle or heat cycle is different than the reproductive cycle of humans. They usually occur twice a year with the time between them that can range from 4-13 months. On average, the time period is 7 months.
- Proestrus stage: This is the start of the heat cycle and lasts about 9 days.
- Estrus stage: This is the mating stage of the dog heat cycle. This is when your bitch (female dog) is in her fertile period because this is when ovulation occurs. This last about 9 days on average.
- Diestrus stage: The last period usually lasts about 2 months. Your female dog is not interested in mating and will resist any male dog’s approach.
- Anestrus stage: This is the period of non breeding before the next heat cycle, lasting between 1 and 6 months.
How do you determine the best time to mate your dog?
Since the accuracy of the calculations isn’t that great, you’ll be pleased to know that, once you spot the first symptoms of the heat, you will still have time for planning.
In most cases, there are up to eight days from the beginning of the heat till the optimal dog breeding time. That should be enough to arrange a hotel, book a flight (if needed) and inform the owner of the male. Artificial insemination gives you a little more time to ensure she is ovulating when the procedure is done.
Once you think that ovulation is approaching, you must watch your female dog for the signs carefully. Bloody vaginal discharge is usually the first that appears. It’s not always blood red. The discharge may be yellowish in color. Unfortunately it is easy to miss. Most female dogs keep themselves very clean and if yours is especially into self care, you may not ever notice the discharge.
That also means that instead of discharge, you can watch for your dog cleaning herself more often than usual. You can wipe the vulva with a white napkin to see if there is discharge on it.
The next step once you notice that the dog is in heat, you may visit your vet to confirm it. You can rely on symptoms, but of course they can be misleading. The surest way to confirm that your dog is in in the heat is to examine her at the vet’s office for a blood test to check her progesterone level. Please note that progesterone testing may have to be done a few times to determine when she may ovulate.
What progesterone level indicates ovulation in dogs?
Of course, if you are an experienced breeder, your breeding business will depend on your ability to predict it yourself. That said, to confirm it at a vet’s office may be cheaper than to take a trip to the male dog stud, only to discover that your dog is not in heat at all.
Besides that, your vet can help in other ways too. As mentioned above, if you want to know the best time for breeding, blood tests are the best option. As the ovulation approaches, the level of hormone progesterone starts to climb, and once it reaches a set concentration of 2-3ng/mL, ovulation is 2-3 days away.
Now that you know that know about your your dogs estrus cycle, you can be your own dog heat cycle calculator. You’ll have a successful breeding that will result in a litter of puppies. And there is nothing better in the world than puppy breath.
Then you will be happy and your dog will be happy. And keeping your Pet happy is what we all want.
This article is a part of a series about female dogs in heat.