Fertility in Dogs: How Do You Know When Your Dog is Fertile?

  • by Andrea Nunez
Fertility in Dogs: How Do You Know When Your Dog is Fertile?

It’s important to be able to recognise the signs of fertility in your dog, whether that’s because you’re trying to prevent pregnancy or because you want to encourage it. Read on to find out what the estrus cycle of a dog is like, how long it lasts, and when your dog can get pregnant.

Estrus Cycles in Dogs

Dogs tend to have their first estrus stage when they are approximately six months old, although smaller breeds tend to reach this before larger breeds. A dog that is in the ‘estrus stage’ of their cycle is said to be ‘in heat’ or ‘in season’. Most breeds of dogs have between one and three estrus stages per year, and these cycles tend to get more regular as they get older. A domesticated dog can be in heat at any time of the year.

How Long is a Female Dog Fertile?

A female dog is fertile throughout the estrus stage of their cycle, since the sperm of a male can survive for up to a week in the reproductive tract. This means that a female dog can typically get pregnant at any point in the 1 – 2 weeks after they become ‘in season’.

How Do You Know When Your Dog is Fertile?

When your dog is fertile, the earliest signs will be a swelling of the vulva and a bloody discharge. These signs will vary from breed to breed and from dog to dog, so it may take a few estrus cycles for you to become accustomed to your dog’s symptoms. When in season, your dog may urinate more frequently, and you may notice a slight change in behaviour, which is normal. 

How Long After Bleeding is a Dog Fertile?

The estrus stage of your dog’s cycle typically tasks for 1 – 2 weeks, depending on the breed of dog. This is the time during which the dog can fall pregnant, although they are most fertile at the point of ovulation, which is typically a few days after they start to produce a bloody discharge. At this time the discharge will become less red and more watery in texture.

How Do I Know if My Female Dog is Infertile?

Some of the symptoms of infertility in dogs include:

  • Uterine infections
  • Swelling of the vulva
  • Decreased bleeding during ovulation
  • False pregnancies
  • Refusal to breed
  • Split heats
  • Absence of estrus cycles
  • Metabolic hypothyroidism
  • Irregular cycles

What Causes a Dog to be Infertile?

There are many reasons why a dog may be infertile or may have unsuccessful pregnancies, including but not limited to:

  • Improper breed management
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Ovarian tumors
  • Hormonal conditions
  • Infectious diseases

If you suspect that your dog is infertile or your dog has had failed pregnancies, you should consult your vet on the best course of action, in order to prevent any harm coming to your dog.

Can Female Dogs Get Pregnant When Not in Heat?

No, your dog cannot get pregnant unless they are in the estrus stage of their cycle, when they are in heat. Signs of your dog being in season may be easy to miss, and that’s why its important to get to know their cycle. Your dog can get pregnant for up to 10 days after they begin to have a bloody discharge, since sperm can survive for up to a week in their reproductive system.

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