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Poodle Heat

female Poodle

When you have a female Poodle, it is very important to understand all about the heat cycle. Miniature and Toy Poodles will usually show less symptoms of being in heat than the larger Standard Poodle.

You will want to know what this means to you and to your Poodle.

Let's dive into this important topic to discuss the details of what to expect when your Poodle enters heat...and the issue of why you may wish to have your Poodle spayed. 
What is Poodle Heat?

Also referred to as entering into 'season', this is a naturally occurring phase of a female dog's reproductive cycle.  There are actually 4 stages of the cycle.  

During a window of time within the heat cycle, the female will be fertile and able to become pregnant. Many dogs are able to become pregnant as the cycle appears to be ending and this is one reason that unplanned litters are produced.

During heat, blood and fluid is expelled from the uterus and exits via the vagina. For toy and miniature Poodles, the amount may be negligible; however with most standards it is quite apparent. 
Age that Poodles Enter Heat

In general, the smaller the dog, the earlier the first heat will occur. Toy Poodles and Miniatures have their first heat between 4 and 7 months old.  Standard Poodles have their first heat between 7 and 15 months old.

There are late bloomers, however it is rare for a Toy or Mini to go beyond 8 months or a Standard to go beyond 2 years without entering into a heat season. If your female Poodle is not yet spayed and has not had signs of heat by this age, you will want to bring this to the attention of the veterinarian. In some cases there may be hormonal imbalances that are preventing the body from experiencing this event.

How Long Heat Lasts For

All dogs are different, but on average a Poodle heat cycle will last for 3 weeks. The first cycle is not a good indication of how future cycles will be. Once a dog matures and reaches the age of 2 years old, the cycles will begin to become more regular and last for roughly the same amount of time for each one.

A canine will enter heat 2 times per year. Some owners become confused when it appears that their dog has 3 cycles in 1 year. However, the most common reason for this happening, is that a dog can have what is called a "Split Heat". This can happen when the dog enters heat, it pauses and seems to stop...and then her body finishes the cycle...thus making it appear that she had 2 cycles when in fact she only had 1, that was "split".

A dog may have heat for her entire life. Canines do not enter the human equivalent of menopause; though the blood flow may lighten as the dog ages.
The Best Time for Mating

Typically, one week into the cycle when the blood flow is just beginning to become a tad watery is the most fertile time of the cycle. With this said, a dog can become pregnant at any stage from Day One until it has completely ended and fro this reason, owners are encouraged to be cautious in regard to unplanned litters.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat

Miniature and Toy Poodles often have much lighter bleeding than the larger Standard sized Poodle. However, there are other signs that a dog is in heat, including:
  • A discharge that is not necessarily may be a light pink or even clear for the first couple of days. For smaller Poodles, the discharge may be so light that owners do not notice it. Standard Poodles will usually have a rather heavy flow.
  • Her vulva may become swollen.
  • There may be a change in behavior. A dog may become restless, withdrawn or more clingy. A female will also be more prone to escape as strong hormonal changes can cause deep instinctual urges to mate. When she is fertile, she will show that she is receptive to a male by raising her tail (known as flagging).
  • Stray male dogs may be around your home. Amazingly, an un-neutered male can smell a female in heat from up to 3 miles (4.83 kg) away. It is not uncommon at all for stray, un-neutered males to walk for miles to reach that scent. The main reason that a male dog can sense this is become small amounts of discharge mix into a female dog's urine...and this stays on the ground for quite a while, essentially sending out a strong signal. 
The 4 Stages of Heat

There are actually 4 stages that a female dog will have:

Proestrus- This is the 1st stage in which the heat cycle begins and discharge and other symptoms are most noticeable will be apparent. This stage varies in length from 4 to 15 days.

Estrus - This is this 2nd stage during in which a female will be receptive to a male for mating and will be able to become impregnated and technically the actual 'heat' phase. This stage is shorter in length and lasts anywhere from 5-8 days. During this time, discharge may become more watery which will give it a pink color, decrease in volume or completely stop.

Diestrus - This is the 3rd stage. A female will generally lose interest in mating during this time. Once in a while, a female will enter into a "False Pregnancy" during this time. The most noticeable signs of a false pregnancy in a dog is that her mammary glands will swell and she may even being to produce milk. If this does happen, she will also most likely exhibit nesting behavior....she may begin to gather certain toys or other household items and begin to watch over them as it they were a litter of puppies. She will not, however, have an increasingly, fast growing belly and this is one of the indications that allows owners to know that conception did not happen.

Anestrus - This is the 4th and final stage and it essentially simply means that her cycle is done and hormones are leveling off. If there was a false pregnancy, signs will ebb away. The body goes "back to normal" until the next cycle which will occur anywhere from 5 to 7 months.
Care During this Time

Studies show that a many female dogs do feel pain or discomfort during heat. If your female Poodle is not feeling well, she may want to retreat to a warm, comfortable area...and this should be provided. Each dog is unique...your Poodle may want a soft, cozy doggie bed in the corner of a very quiet room...or she may be happy just laying on a soft baby blanket in the living room, so that she can be close to her human family members.

Dealing with the discharge is usually the biggest element to be concerned about in regard to hygiene. Even Toys and Minis that do not appear to have a heavy flow will be having discharge that accumulates over time onto bedding, furniture, flooring, etc.

For this reason, many owners opt to put doggie diapers on their female during the cycle. If not, dog beds and other resting and sleeping areas can be lined with a clean, soft towel.

It is very important to keep a very close eye on your Poodle when she goes outside to urinate or eliminate. Since un-neutered males will be aware of her condition from up to 3 miles (4.83 kg) away. For this reason, it is recommended to limit outside activities such as walks or outdoor playtime, until her cycle is complete.

Having a dog spayed not only eliminates her heat cycles, but also prevents several serious health conditions that a dog can develop:
  • It eliminates the possibility of ovarian cancer
  • It greatly reduces the chances of developing mammary cancer
  • It reduces the possibility of developing many infections
  • It spares an older, senior Poodle from an unplanned pregnancy
  • It prevents a Poodle of any age from an unplanned pregnancy - This is so very important as a puppy as young as 4 months could have a litter...and accidental mating could result in mixed breeds...which at best diminishes the Poodle bloodline and at worst can produce unhealthy litters...because without proper testing of dam and sire, so many hereditary health issues can be passed on to the litter of puppies.
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