Managing a Bitch in Season.
Having a bitch in season can sometimes be a trying time, so this article will look at some ways of managing a bitch in season; hopefully prior to her being neutered at a later date; (please read our separate article on the pro’s and con’s of neutering). It must be noted that unfortunately Holidays4Dogs we are unable to accept in-season bitches for various reasons including terms of home boarding or kenneling. A bitch in season also poses cleanliness issues with regard to our carer’s homes for example; something we would not expect any of our valued carers to deal with.
The female dog generally comes into season, or ‘heat’, twice per year and will usually have their first season at approximately five to eight months of age. The entire heat period can last for around 21 days but can vary from breed to breed. The first signs a bitch is in season will probably begin with the dog licking herself frequently; she will then begin to expel dark red blood which will peter off to a more orangey colour as the season progresses. Some female dogs will bleed for most of the season; others perhaps for only a week or two; some heavier, some less noticeable. Additionally, some dogs can be very good at cleaning themselves, whereas other bitches quite lax with their ablutions!
One of the main difficulties is keeping your home clean when housing an in season bitch. It may be possible to confine her to an area where there are hard floors which will be easier to wash and keep clean. It is possible to purchase canine sanitary pads which fit inside ‘pants’ made especially for dogs; but this all depends on your personal view of such products, how much mess you need to deal with and how well your dog is likely to accept such an added indignity!
The time when your dog will actually be fertile will only be a period of 2-3 days but this can sometimes be difficult to determine. As a broad rule of thumb days 9 – 14 are usually the peak time a bitch will be ready to mate in most breeds. It is essential; however, that you ensure your bitch cannot be accessed by any entire dogs during her season. If you keep an entire dog in the household, but have decided not to breed, it would be wise if you could make alternative arrangements for the dog to stay with someone else for the duration of your bitches season.
Keeping an entire dog in the same household as an in season bitch, while trying to keep them separate will make for an exceedingly trying time for all concerned, not least the dogs themselves who will show signs of increased stress. This can manifest itself in constant barking, whining, pacing, panting and in some cases becoming excessively destructive. Here at Holidays4Dogs we do have clients who board their male dogs with us while their bitch is in season, and this is an option you may wish to consider until your bitch is in the clear. A male dog can mate a female dog so quickly and once he has begun there will be nothing you can do to stop him! Some females can be aggressive towards male suitors, but others will be happy to mate any and every dog in the neighbourhood!
It is also therefore very important to make sure your bitch cannot escape, so it would be wise to check fencing and gates when she is in season and supervise her while she is in the garden. With regard to exercising the in season bitch you will need to consider where and when to walk her. Most people who keep entire dogs will certainly not thank you if you continue with your usual daytime exercise routine in busy places. Entire male dogs cannot be stopped by even the most diligent owner if they detect a nearby bitch in season and it would be very unfair and irresponsible to present such temptation to the general dog owning public. Furthermore, an in season bitch will urinate frequently which provides mates with a trail back to her!
Of course your bitch still needs exercising during her season, so if your garden is not big enough to do this at home, it would be wise to consider walking her very early in the morning or late at night or at very least take your dog somewhere which you know is less likely to be frequented by other dog walkers. Always keep her on the lead during this time as she is much more likely to be less obedient and wander off; especially during the time she is receptive to males. During this danger period, limiting walks to short outings to stretch her legs and empty her bladder and bowels would be advisable.
Some bitches can become off colour during their season and behaviour patterns may change temporarily. For example, some female dogs display ‘mounting’ behaviour, others may become clingy or have decreased or increased energy levels. In some cases house training may slide since bitches tend to feel the need to urinate more; associated with scent marking.
If you do not intend to breed your bitch, spaying at the appropriate time will eradicate the inconvenience of seasons for both you and your dog and avoid any unnecessary expense of unwanted litters.