Abnormal Heat Cycles in Female Dogs

We all love to plan ahead and feel safe that everything is predictable. Mother nature likes that too, however, not always she’s able to deliver. While most dogs go into heat twice a year, and is in heat for 21 days, different abnormalities occur.

This article gives a brief summary of abnormalities possible with the heat cycle in dogs. In some cases, cause is innocent, like the dog not being grown up, serious health issues, like ovarian failure or tumor may cause this, as well. Make sure to have your vet’s card at hand when they happen.

Absent Heat

Absent heat is when dog fails to cycle. Both when female dog was not in heat yet at some age, or when she cycled before, but suddenly skipped.

In most cases, it is caused by health problems of the reproductive system. However, it’s not limited to those. In example, if overall immune level is low for your dog, it may cause cycle to skip due to low energy of the body.

Dog with absent heat should be examined by a veterinarian.

Also, absent heat may be caused by treatment methods, involving hormonal influencing. In most cases, heat cycle should come back to normal, if treatment is applied properly.

Absent heat may be confused with dog not yet reached her sexual maturity, or silent heat, when dog cycles, but symptoms are not strong enough to be detected.

Silent Heat

Silent heat happens when the dog cycles but is not showing symptoms. In most cases, they are present, but so weak, the owner is not able to detect them. Missing symptoms may also include female no being attractive to males.

It’s not uncommon for smaller dog breeds to have one or two silent heats before clear symptoms appear.

Silent heat should not be confused with owners inexperience in noticing symptoms, as bloody discharge, swelling of vulva may easily go unnoticed or get mistaken for something else.

If a dog is in silent heat, only way to confirm heat cycle is at the vet’s office by taking vaginal secretion and blood tests.

Split heat

Split heat most often happens in young dogs during their first cycle. It’s when cycle begins, but stops before the second phase, the standing heat begins. Usually it happens due to due to hormonal systems disability to induce ovulation.

Normally heat cycle will reoccur after two to ten weeks. It’s a common false assumption the dog is coming in heat too often.

Prolonged Heat

Dogs are normally in heat for 21 days. Everything longer is considered to be a prolonged heat.

This is quite common and considered normal in younger dogs. However, if prolonged heat occurs when dog has reached her maturity (2-3 years) veterinary examinations may be necessary.

In most cases, mature dogs have prolonged heat because of ovarian cyst or even tumor. The diagnosis may be confirmed by ultrasonography, vaginal cytology or blood tests.

Only a veterinarian can provide a method of treatment, and, in most cases, surgery is the only option.

Too short between two heats

It’s common for dogs to come in heat as frequent as every four months. However, when dog is coming in heat so often, some of the cycles may be infertile, as the uterus did not have enough time to recover from the previous heat. Thus, it may not be receptive for implantation.

If this happens in younger dogs, there should be no worries. Cycling frequency should normalize as he dog matures. However, if this happens in already mature, a veterinary assistance is necessary. In most cases, the therapy will include intake of hormones, but this must be done under veterinary supervision only.

This type of abnormality should not be confused with split heat (read above), which is another type of abnormality in heat cycle.

Too long between two heats

While normally dogs come in heat twice a year (except some specific breeds), it is still normal if a dog does not come in heat up to a year or one and a half. Especially for young or old dogs.

Everything longer requires your attention. Especially, if the problem occurs in a bitch who cycled with regular frequency before.

Unfortunately, possible causes are too many to make speculations in a website. If you are serious about your dog’s health, you must visit a vet.

This article is a part of series about female dogs in heat.

Dog Health / Dogs