Vet FAQ – Dog heat, pregnancy and castration

Frequently asked questions about Heat, Pregnancy and Castration for Dogs

  • What do I need to consider at the height of my bitch being on heat and how long does this phase last? Is there a “morning after pill” in case of emergencies?
  • What needs to be considered with a bitch on heat when dealing with male dogs?
  • How do I recognise if a bitch is pregnant?

What do I need to consider at the height of my bitch being on heat and how long does this phase last? Is there a “morning after pill” in case of emergencies?

Question:
Our bitch (12 months) came on heat relatively late, that is only 8 days ago. We are finding very little blood but since yesterday, the male dogs arrive from all parts of town and she likes it too. That’s why I’m assuming that she has now reached her “peak”. What does one need to consider now? I don’t know If she is still losing blood and how long this phase lasts in which she takes pleasure in it? Is there something like a “morning after pill” in case of emergencies?

Answer:
As your bitch is still too young to make it through pregnancy without complications, you should watch her very closely and not let her get in contact with male dogs. The “fun” does stop if she has to be given very strong hormones to abort the young. Such hormone administrations could have unpleasant consequences. You therefore should be responsible and really separate her totally from the male dogs. The length of the phase, in which she can be impregnated successfully, varies from bitch to bitch. But it can last a few weeks. You can only be sure that nothing will happen if the male dogs have no more interest in her. If you cannot keep the bitch separated from the male dogs or if something could have already happened, I would advise you to have the bitch castrated directly following being in heat. This is the only way to protect the bitch from pregnancy without giving her strong hormones.

What needs to be considered with a bitch on heat when dealing with male dogs?

Question:
Our bitch is now a little over 7 months old and menstruated for the first time. As we only had male dogs up to now, we have no experience with this. Are there particular things to be considered in this respect? Does one have to be careful of male dogs now already or is it still harmless for her to play with them?

Answer:
Bitches sexually mature at an age of between 6 and 12 months. From this point onwards, they usually come on heat twice a year. The heat cycle lasts about 3-4 weeks. She loses a little blood while on heat (for about three weeks). They are ready to couple with male dogs between the 8th and 20th day of being on heat. As the duration of the “on heat” phase can be between one to four weeks depending on breed and dog and the willingness to be covered can vary between one and two weeks, you should not let the bitch out together with male dogs who are interested in her. The male dogs know best how long they have a chance. If you are planning to have the bitch impregnated, you should not do this before two years of age. If you do not want offspring, I would recommend to have the bitch castrated. You spare her phantom pregnancies, mammary tumours and the danger of uterus sepsis, in particular if you have it done before a second “on heat” phase. And you save yourself the trouble with obnoxious male dogs every six months.

How do I recognise if a bitch is pregnant?

Question:
My male dog recently bred with a bitch (with agreement by the owner), now I would be interested how I can recognise if she is pregnant or not. We would be very happy about offspring anyway.

Answer:
Lay people can only recognise it very late if a bitch is pregnant. The vet can recognise pregnancy after the third week following the breeding date by means of ultrasound. Pregnancy can be recognised after week four with a lot of luck and experience. After the 6th week, one can see the little ones by x-ray and after the 7th week, one can feel them. All other signs are very uncertain as bitches often have phantom pregnancies. This can go as far as the bitch producing milk without having pups. I would advise you to go to the vet in week 4 and have an ultrasound done. You should change the food from this point onwards if the bitch really is pregnant. The best is to change slowly to high quality puppy food from this point in time onwards. This means that the bitch receives all she needs during pregnancy and lactation.

Call into your local store today to discuss your dog’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts.

STORE LOCATOR

Store Locator

Visit us in one of our stores

Find a store

Top reasons to visit

  • The Right Price - Best deals!
  • The Right Advice - Skilled staff
  • Pets are welcome in store!
  • Convenient Locations
  • Weigh scales & tracking cards available
  • We love Pets as much as you do!

GET IN TOUCH

News & Events