|Barked: Sun Jan 14, '07 12:42pm PST |
|You should definitely be expecting her first heat any time now, though it's not that weird she hasn't started yet. You can expect this heat to be anywhere from hardly noticeable to a pretty major ordeal.
If you're not yet familiar with what is happening in a dog's body during a heat cycle, you might want to pick up a book, find a good webpage about the subject and/or call your vet. Knowing the human "facts of life" isn't going to be enough to understand what your dog is going thru and how to keep her healthy and not bred.
While most likely she will have her heat without incident, you should be on the lookout for abnormal discharge or other signs of being ill, especially as the heat cycle comes to an end. It is possible for a dog to get internal infections related to heat cycles. There is also the possibility of her going through a false pregnancy, which you should be aware of. A false pregnancy will cause her to go thru the actions as if she had been bred, but with no actual puppies. False pregnancies can be really mild or rather severe.
Knowing now that you have other dogs in the area that are allowed to run loose, I suppose you are actually at an advantage over other people who learn in unfortunate ways that just because your female dog's routine hasn't changed during her heat doesn't mean she's safe from getting pregnant. Male dogs can and will go to amazing lengths to get to her during her heat, whether she's in the phase where she's accepting male attention or not. To be totally safe during her heat, she should NEVER be unsupervised anywhere that isn't 100% secure. This means no backyard time without a human watching, even if she's in a kennel or just running out to pee real quick. The best fences aren't always fool-proof. Even if she isn't actually capable of getting pregnant during a certain phase, males getting to her may still cause problems -- namely fighting.
Remember that she will be going thru hormonal changes that will affect how she feels both mentally and physically. In your profile you mention that you have young human children. As a human who has had children you can probably sympathize with the power of hormones! While a heat shouldn't cause major personality changes, it will mean that she will probably be more sensitive to being touched, and her priorities will shift from playing and being the family dog to those of following her body's cues that she needs to work on getting pregnant and taking care of puppies. Hopefully you are teaching the human kids important lessons about living with and respecting dogs, but during her heat you may want to be even more careful than usual to make sure both dog and kids are comfortable and safe.
Do you plan for this to be her only heat, or is she being kept in-tact for future breedings?
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