The ladydog and being on heat

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Nettle
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The ladydog and being on heat

Post by Nettle » Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:08 am

Unneutered bitches come on heat. This is the time when they can be bred from. It is a normal and natural process, and the b itch is not ill. Nor is she unhappy. She is different because hormones affect how we and animals behave. Because a b itch is only available to breed during the heat or season, she can be very needful at this time. She may pee more often, and sometimes indoors at the centre of the home, such as on human beds where human pheromone scent is concentrated, or on unwashed laundry. So owners commit to keeping bedroom/bathroom doors shut. She may hump objects such as cushions, or other dogs that she feels comfortable with. She may do none of these things. If there are several intact b itches in a family, they normally bring each other on heat and cycle concurrently. Leading up to the heat, she may start to scent-mark on walks, behave differently from usual, (shy dogs become confident - obedient ones become disobedient - steady ones become scatterbrained etc) and her fur may become very soft and shiny from the hormone changes. All of this is NORMAL.


On Heat starts with dripping a red fluid from the vulva. That's day 1. Most heats last 21 days but this is an average: one of mine has just gone 25 days. A b itch's first heat is not necessarily a picture of the ones that will follow. Many breeds come on heat every six months: some breeds once a year. The more ancient types e.g greyhounds, Basenjis, cycle annually.

Over the next few days the vulva will swell.

At around day 10, the fluid may become less or stay the same. The b itch is now ready to stand for mating. This is an AVERAGE: mine are in purdah from day 1. Most bitches will stand from 10-14 days, but some will stand all through the heat cycle. When a b itch stands, she flirts her tail to the side and braces her hindlegs. Exercising is difficult because of the risk of meeting male dogs, but in-season b itches MUST still be exercised because otherwise the fluid may pool in the uterus and risk a nasty illness called pyometra after the season.

There are three types of pyo: closed, which means there is no discharge but pus is building up in the uterus, open, which means there is discharge, and 'stump' which is rare but occurs in spayed b itches where some hormone-responsive tissue has been left behind after the spay. Pyo is NOT inevitable or even common, but we need to know it exists because it is very serious. The best ways to avoid pyo are to feed properly, keep the b itch well-exercised, and as a precautionary measure, give raspberry leaf tablets for the last week of the season and three weeks after that (total four weeks) to aid cleansing. Never ever use any kind of 'sanitary towel' arrangement that covers the vulva, as the warm moist conditions created are ideal for causing pyometra. Keep the b itch out of water during the season to avoid bacteria being introduced while the vulva is receptive. If a post-season b itch has a fat tummy, appears lethargic, is drinking excessively and has a temperature, suspect pyo. Get to the vet without delay.

After the heat cycle has completed, the vulva will return to almost its normal size, but they are never quite as small again as before the first heat.

3 months after the heat has ended is the best time to neuter if you are going to, in a 6-monthly cycling b itch. Once past that is not so good because she will be building up to the next heat.

An average of 2 months after the heat the b itch will go into 'false pregnancy' which is natural and normal, though a lot of people who have never kept whole b itches will try and panic you into thinking it isn't. The dog will start to nest, which may include shredding soft material for bedding, some become reclusive, some carry soft toys around and mother them, some come into milk and some do none of these. Watch your dog around strange people and dogs at this time, as the increase in hormones can make some of them antsy. This is NORMAL. New mothers, broody hens, all behave the same. The b itch is not suffering or ill.

Do nothing except keep an eye on her. In 3 or 4 weeks, the symptoms will resolve quite naturally. if she gets very milky, watch her teats for mastitis but no squeezing them! (people do: you'd be amazed) . Homeopathic pulsatilla gets rid of milk safely. Don't let the vet give her a hormone injection!

During the false pregnancy, whether obvious or not, and for three months after the season, the b itch's tendons and ligaments will be slacker, and she will lose her muscle tone and gain a little weight. This means feeding less, and avoiding any kind of leaping twisting exercise, as otherwise the dog may damage herself. Normal exercise is fine, and also necessary to keep her healthy.

Some b itches have 'silent seasons' which means that they do not produce the red fluid. The vulva still swells and the behaviour changes still occur. Silent seasons are still fertile - so if your b itch has not yet had a season but male dogs are showing a lot of interest, and she is flirting with them - she may be having a silent season. Take no risks - keep her away from the boys.

That's all. No big deal. Some b itches are very clean and you'd hardly know, so keep an eye on the ladybits. Keep her away from all male dogs during the season and don't leave her in the yard unattended because some male dogs will go to great lengths to get in, and some b itches will do the same to get out. This is normal behaviour and they are not unhappy or suffering.

A healthy b itch goes through each season easily, and the only extra trouble comes from keeping her away from male dogs, and a little added housekeeping. However, it DOES mean a little more effort, and not everybody can commit to that. This article is purely to inform the first-time b itch owner what they may expect from the season cycle.
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Mattie
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Re: The ladydog and being on heat

Post by Mattie » Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:18 am

Thanks Nettle, I always felt a bit out of my depth when my bitches came in season. :D
[url=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/PIXIE.jpg][img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/th_PIXIE.jpg[/img][/url]

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Re: The ladydog and being on heat

Post by Noobs » Thu Apr 21, 2011 8:22 am

Thank you for this! I don't have need for such an article personally but I do love knowing this stuff.

jacksdad
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Re: The ladydog and being on heat

Post by jacksdad » Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:43 am

yes, thank you.

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Re: The ladydog and being on heat

Post by Loralee » Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:04 am

oh thank you for this post! Being a first time dog owner of a female who's just 5 months old, this is something that we are talking about, and weighing the pros&cons of when to get her spayed.

One question I have, (not sure if this is the right thread for it) But how does waiting to get your female spayed effect them, and how does spaying them before, effect them? I know neutering a male too early, can result in them staying in a 'puppy hood' state of mind, is this the same for females?
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Nettle
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Re: The ladydog and being on heat

Post by Nettle » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:05 pm

Yes, it is the same. It is by far the best to wait until a b itch is fully grown up before spaying - that's two for most breeds and three for a few.
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Re: The ladydog and being on heat

Post by PikiPiki » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:51 pm

Thank you for sharing this. Now I know what to expect. :)

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Re: The ladydog and being on heat

Post by minkee » Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:47 am

We had our b itch spayed at 6 months, as the vet (and most of the information on the internet too!) recommended. I think I would have made a different decision had I read something like this at the time. It seems manageable, and I think I would have potentially liked to breed Scout at some point. However, too late for that - my question is, what exactly are the "puppy traits" that she might retain? Or adult traits that she might never show? I've never owned a dog before, so I don't know what she is or isn't doing that is puppified or all grown up.

She's currently 1.5 y/o, so still a puppy.
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Nettle
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Re: The ladydog and being on heat

Post by Nettle » Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:29 am

Metally/behaviourally, the dog has evolved as a co-operative beast with people. Many animals are co-operative in a social group of their own kind, but only domestic animals have a high degree of co-operation with people. (check out studies by Juliana Kaminsky)

Before this co-operative stage is reached, the dog has to go through adolescence. During adolescence, hormones rewire the brain into co-operative mode, just like they do with people. We all know the day your lovely child is stolen by aliens and an adolescent is left in its place :shock: . Some years later, the aliens return a wonderful grown-up person - it's the same with dogs. One day your gorgeous sweet puppy disappears and a monster is left in its place. Months later a delightful dog reappears.

UNLESS

The dog is neutered during this phase. It is then stuck in permanent adolescence: unco-operative and for ever testing boundaries.

If it is neutered as a puppy, pre-adolescence, which is the fashion now with certain authorities :evil: it is still stuck in an unco-operative mindset, but this time as a permanent puppy. This affects its relationship with other dogs because it still expects "puppy amnesty" i.e. that state of affairs whereby adult dogs allow a puppy to do almost anything it wants. For a true puppy, this is just part of development and comes to an end, but for a neutered and stuck in puppyhood dog, what other dogs see is a big lout with no manners - and if the owner doesn't teach it how to behave, the other dogs will. Quite assertively. So you have the roots of dog- aggression because the pup is simply not wired into how to behave, because it 'thinks' it is a puppy and so behaves like one. A lot of people like this permanent puppiness :roll: dogs don't.

Then we have the fear periods. You know from another pinned article that there are several of these before a dog has grown up. If neutered during a fear period, you are very likely to end up with a very fearful dog - because it is the hormones that take a dog through these stages to adulthood. Take out the hormones at the wrong time and WHAM! Permanently fearful dog. Here are the roots of separation anxiety (MUCH more prevalent in early neuters) and fear-aggression.

These developmental crises are not inevitable, but they happen more often than not.

There are huge physical ramifications too, and some big studies into them - but as a Behaviour board, I have stuck to the Behavioural issues.


Edited to add - I notice of late that the contents of some of my posts are appearing under other names in the dog press. This is copyrighted and I would be obliged if other trainers would ask permission and then credit the work, instead of plagiarising. Board users are welcome to quote me :wink:
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Re: The ladydog and being on heat

Post by nightsrainfall » Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:18 pm

Nettle wrote:Edited to add - I notice of late that the contents of some of my posts are appearing under other names in the dog press. This is copyrighted and I would be obliged if other trainers would ask permission and then credit the work, instead of plagiarizing. Board users are welcome to quote me :wink:
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Re: The ladydog and being on heat

Post by minkee » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:59 pm

Thanks for the info, Nettle. It makes me pretty sad to know that Scout might have such stunted development :(
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Re: The ladydog and being on heat

Post by Loralee » Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:06 pm

Thanks for the info Nettle! It's very good to have all the information before we make our decision. :)
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Nettle
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Re: The ladydog and being on heat

Post by Nettle » Mon Apr 25, 2011 4:19 am

Just remembered this - after the first season, b itches often have a growth spurt. They usually appear much more mature mentally too, though for others this may wait until after the second season.
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Re: The ladydog and being on heat

Post by jakesmom » Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:34 pm

I feel somwhat embarrassed to ask this, but is it possible for an entire dog to mate with a spayed b itch.

The reason I'm asking is -- our b itch Heidi (aged 11) was spayed about 4 years ago and has been ill for a while, but is now feeling much better. Anyway today she was really frisky around Jake and trying to mount him (even though they normally more or less ignore each other) then tonight Jake was trying to mount her, and won't leave her alone. We have seperated them. Is this normal and should we just ignore it ?

I don't really want to just ignore it, because quite honestly Heidi's legs are not strong enough to take Jakes's weight. Do you have any ideas how we can discourage it.

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Nettle
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Re: The ladydog and being on heat

Post by Nettle » Sun May 01, 2011 3:21 am

If she is trying to mount him, and standing for him, I think a blood test for hormone levels and a general health check is needed, but make sure your vet does a really serious profile.

This isn't to frighten you, but something is not quite right here. Some medical conditions mimic the scent of an on-heat female, and it's good to have these out of the way. So if this goes on for more than a couple of days, that's what I'd get investigated.

It MIGHT just be that she is feeling better - but as you say, she can't take his weight so when they start to get frisky, separate them.


Meanwhile have a think - have any new scents been added to the household? I knew a dog years ago would get frisky at the scent of musk perfume.
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