I’ve only had my little dog for three months now, but back in March she came into season and I was totally unprepared. Firstly, because her previous owners had told me her last season was November so she wouldn’t be due again until May, so I had been banking on getting her ‘done’ in April. Secondly, because my family have always always kept boy dogs and always had them ‘done’ as soon as they were old enough, I’ve just got no experience in the female doggy department! Because of that, this is quite a basic guide. I’m writing up all the things I was frantically googling in the hopes that it might help somebody else who was as clueless as I was when I first noticed blood coming out of my little dog’s vag and panicked that she had an aggressive UTI for about an hour before the penny dropped.
So, first things first: lock your door. Put the chain on. Double lock the door. If your dog comes into season, the only thing she will want to do is leave the house and run to find a mate and, obviously, we don’t want this. I’m not the kind of person to use the chain on my front-door, but it’s been really useful as an extra level of protection to know I ONLY open the front door if she’s shut in another room or on the lead.
Which brings me on to my next point. Exercise. Whilst your dog is in season, it really depends on the size of the dog as to whether you can take her out or not. If it’s a small dog who you can take on small road-based lead walks and pick up whenever she comes into contact with another dog, you’re probably safe. I took little Morrigan out on a small 15 minute road walk three times a day whilst she was on season. However, if you have a big dog, like a golden retriever, or one you can’t pick up fully off the ground, I would advise keeping your dog simply confined to the house and garden. Your dog will be begging for every dog she meets to hump her, and if it’s a big dog, there really is little you can do.
As to how long the season lasts, I understand that it’s different again, according to the size of the dog. Little dogs will have two seasons a year whereas big dogs tend to have just the one. Morrigan’s lasted a little over 4 weeks, with male dogs still being VERY interested in her even towards the very end when we ventured back to the park.
The very first sign that your dog is about to come into season is her vulva will enlarge in size and turn a dark colour (from dried blood). A few days later, you’ll start to notice a bloody discharge wherever your dog sits. At this point, cover every surface in your house in towels or blankets you don’t care about. Blood stains. Luckily, the bleeding only lasts for a few days, but that’s when the real fun begins. After the blood clears up, the next 3 weeks are the weeks where your dog will be fertile and absolutely begging for a mate. Towards the end, you might notice a little more blood, or a straw coloured discharge. This too, will clear up in a couple of days and about a week to ten days after that, the season will be over.
SOME dogs aren’t as simple as this and have what’s called a split season, where they’ll start coming into season, then stop for a few weeks, and then come into season again, making it last twice as long. As crude as it sounds, the best indicator is the size of the vulva as it’s the most scientific symptom that we, as humans, can measure by just by looking. If it’s enlarged and looks a bit in-your-face and like it could easily take a doggie pee-pee, then your dog is still very much in heat. If you take what you think will be cute photos of your dog lying on its back and they turn out looking a bit like dog porn, then your dog is still on heat. These are very weird sentences to write, but I’m just imparting the strange knowledge I learnt over those 5 weeks in April.
In terms of making your dog’s life easier during this time, there’s not much you can do unfortunately. I just gave Morrigan lots of extra cuddles and games and a few extra treats here and there. Research has shown that dogs in season do experience something similar to period pain and PMS symptoms, so whilst you can’t give your dog chocolate, I’m sure she’ll appreciate a bit of extra love and strokes during her season. Because you can’t exercise your dog as much over this time, it is also natural that she’ll put on weight, but I figured it was too much to stop taking Morrigan to the park AND put her on a diet – she’d hate me! This is obviously down to personal preference, but if you really don’t want your dog to put on weight, definitely think about decreasing the amount of food you give her. Some dogs naturally lose their appetite whilst on season anyway, so it might just all work out.
I should probably finish off by saying that the responsible thing to do is get your dog spayed as it not only prevents pregnancy and unwanted male attention, but a whole host of other diseases too. Morrigan is booked in for her spay in early July, as you have to wait a few months after their season ends before the operation can be done (I don’t know why, but this is a rule).
Anyway, I hope this has been at least a little bit helpful!