Bitches can be on heat any time after six months old, although the average age is 8 – 10 months old. The average period of time for a female dog to be on heat is three weeks.
Signs that your dog is on heat:
- Blood loss
- Thickening vagina
- Loss of appetite
On average most bitches are fertile and willing to mate 10 – 14 days after the first blood loss. If you do not wish your dog to become pregnant care must be taken during this period of time to keep her away from all male dogs.
On average female dogs have two periods of being on heat in a year, but it can be as many as four times.
Neutering of your female dog
Neutering in this case means surgical removal of both ovaries; the uterus will not be removed unless there is a medical need for it to be. This operation will result in the female dog being infertile. It has never been scientifically proven that allowing your dog to go through her first heat has a positive influence on the behaviour of your dog. We would advise that you neuter your dog before or after the first heat, but before the second heat.
If your dog is incontinent or not fully house trained, we would advise you to come to our practice for an individual consultation and for specific advice.
Advantages of neutering:
• No heat or (pseudo)- pregnancy
• The bitch is less attractive to male dogs
• Strongly reduced chance of getting mammary cancer when the bitch is neutered before the second heat
• Strongly reduced chance of getting inflammation of the uterus or diabetes mellitus.
Disadvantages of neutering:
• Sometimes your dog will get a more or less curly fur. Especially with long haired dogs, and this can be a problem.
• A small increased chance of the dog becoming incontinent. We can offer advice concerning female dogs that already suffer from incontinence.
• Your dog’s metabolism will slow down a little after neutering; as a result there is a slight risk of weight gain, so we would advise a reduced diet (about 25 % less food per day).
We put the outer stitches as internally as possible, so there will only be a few outer stitches. We advise ten days rest to allow the wound to heal. Usually a collar or special Pet T-shirt is required to prevent your dog from licking the wound. After about ten days the outer stitches can be removed.
People who receive maintenance can obtain help from the Animal Protection Organisation to fund the cost of getting their pet neutered.