How to know when your dog will come in heat

It’s important to predict when your female dog will come in heat. Especially if you are a dog breeder. A lot of planning goes into the timing of mating, and you must know how to calculate the time of your dog’s heat.

female dog and a daisy
A daisy can tell a fortune, but can it calculate when your dog will come in heat? Photo by GCSE Jack, cc

Even if you are not a breeder, but you have an intact female dog, knowing when she will be in heat, will make your life easier.

Keep the record of previous estrous cycles of your female dog

So, the surest way to know when your dog will come in the heat is to count months between two heats. Typically, dogs go in heat twice a year, which gives you five to eight months between two heats. Note that, unlike for cats, dogs’ heat cycle is not dependent on the season.

If your dog is healthy, she will follow a stable pattern and, regardless if your dog goes in heat twice a year, or three times a year, you will be able to predict it if you keep a calendar of your dog’s heat.

If you see that your dog goes in heat every five months, you’ll be able to calculate when your dog will come in heat.

Of course, not always things go smoothly, and some dogs may cycle infrequently, taking several months between two heats and some more months between the other two heats.

In normal conditions, a dog’s heat cycle frequency stabilizes, as the dog matures. If it isn’t, you should talk to your veterinarian about possible causes and whether your dog should be allowed to breed.

The higher precision is not needed

Since the accuracy of the calculations isn’t that great, you’ll be pleased to know that, once you spot the first symptoms of the heat, you will still have time for planning.

In most cases, there are up to eight days form the beginning of the heat, till the optimal breeding time. That should be enough to arrange a hotel, book a flight (if needed) and inform the owner of the male.

Once the time you predict the heat is approaching, you must watch for the signs carefully. Bloody discharge is usually the first that appears. It’s not always blood red. The discharge may be yellowish tone, and, unfortunately, is easy to miss, especially if your dog is tidy.

That also means, instead of discharge, you can notice your dog cleaning herself more often than usual. You can wipe the vulva with a white napkin to see if there is discharge on it.

The next step, once you notice that the dog is in heat, you must visit a vet, to confirm it. You can rely on symptoms, of course, but they can mislead. The sure way to confirm that your dog ins in the heat, is to examine her at the vet’s office.

Of course, once you are an experienced breeder, you can confirm it yourself. Anyhow, to confirm it at a vet’s office may be cheaper than to take a trip to a male dog, only to discover that your dog is not in heat at all.

Besides that, a vet can help in other ways, too. For example, if you want to know the best time for breeding, blood tests are the best option. As the ovulation approaches, the level of hormone progesterone starts to climb, and, once it reaches a set concentration, ovulation is days away.

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