I have sure learned a lot this last week and a half!
I've been a dog owner since 1998. Before that, I was a major dog enthusiast. I read everything I could get my hands on, and I devoured dog encyclopedias and literature like a starving baboon.
In 2003, I bred my dog successfully and raised and sold a litter of eight puppies.
At that point, I thought I had dog heats all figured out.
It turns out, I pretty much knew nothing.
Growing up, our dogs were outside dogs, and so the heat wasn't that big of a deal. If they bled a little, it was outside, so you very rarely could find evidence of it.
Having an indoor dog on heat is a completely different story.
It turns out that every dog in estrus reacts differently to the hormones raging through their fuzzy little bodies. I don't remember if Dakota bled that much, but Siff certainly does. She started bleeding last Tuesday (the 4th). I probably wouldn't have noticed for a while, but Arkhon was quick to point out that something wasn't right. At first, the blood flow was fairly light, so I was just going to leave her alone and let her clean up after herself.
Halfway through the afternoon, I changed my mind and, at a suggestion from a friend, improvised this:
So, that day I ordered some washable dog diapers. They arrived on Thursday, and things have been so much better. We received three with a washable insert. The diapers are made to help with incontinence, so when we eventually spay Siff, we can still use them if the dogs ever struggle with that.
The diapers came in pink, blue, and orange. I kind of love them.The orange one is especially a good color for Siff. Here is the pink one:
dog diapers, we really like the brand we bought. They've been really easy to clean too.
So, I thought the bleeding stage of the heat lasted 2-3 days at most. It turns out that it is closer to 7-10. She's still has some dark red bleeding, though it is slowing down. When it turns to a pink color and becomes more watery, that is when the dog is fertile and read to breed.
The other interesting thing I learned, is that dogs don't bleed for the same reason as humans. That makes sense, since the blood comes before the dog is fertile. In women, we bleed afterward due to our bodies shedding our uterus lining. All other animals reabsorb their lining. Humans are unique in that aspect. No one actually knows the reason that dogs bleed.
It also turns out that being in estrus can impact a dog's mood, much as it does humans. Dogs usually either become more cuddly or rather cranky. For the most part, Siff has been super cuddly. Usually she's a little more standoffish, but for the last week she has been constantly leaning against people. Tonight she was trying to get my attention and gave a little "woof" at me. She's never done that before.
Once the external vulva's swelling goes down, we won't have to worry about her getting pregnant anymore. That can be 4-7 days later. A dog can be "in heat" for two to three weeks. (Link) We're just grateful this is only going to happen every six months or so.
Honestly, if you're not going to breed your dog, save yourself a headache and get her spayed. Life will be a lot easier on you. Siff is only eight months old, so she is too young to breed, but eventually we want to bring a couple litters of elkhounds into this world. Before that though, it's dangerous for the female's health if you breed her too early. Most authorities recommend not breeding your dog before she is two years old.
It's been an interesting week. It will be nice when Siff doesn't have to put diapers on every time she comes into the house.
It's worth it for us though. She's going to be such a great mother.