What Can I Expect from My Shih Tzu's Estrous Cycle?

by Radika
(Toronto, CA)

my dog has a pee then, after the first pee she pees drops of blood, for about the last two weeks. do you think it may be diet related, I had changed her dry food. Thanks.

Anonymous Answers:

go to the vet ASAP. Do not mess around with blood.

Our Answer

Hello Radika, we’re glad to know you’ve made a vet’s appointment for your dog and trust that all is fine. It’s always smart to consult a professional if you have questions about your Shih Tzu’s health. Since you didn’t mention your dog’s age we couldn’t guess whether or not she was experiencing her first estrous cycle, but your question gives us the perfect opportunity to educate and perhaps help other Shih Tzu Moms and Dads who may find themselves in the same situation.

The estrous cycle of a dog is much different than the menstrual cycle of a human female, so it can be confusing or even alarming the first time you have a female dog come into heat. Shih Tzus commonly reach sexual maturity anytime between 6- and 15-months old and will continue having an estrous cycle approximately twice a year for their entire life unless spayed. Unlike humans, dogs don’t experience menopause, but their heat cycles do stretch out to once or less a year as they age.

The entire estrous cycle is made up of four separate cycles:

Proestrus starts the cycle and can last 3 to 17 days. Signs of proestrus include a swollen vulva and a reddish-brown discharge. Rising estrogen levels peak during proestrus and then drop at the end of the phase, preparing the dog for fertilization.

Estrus (not “estrous” which is the term for the entire heat cycle) typically lasts about 9 days and is indicated by a swollen vulva and light red discharge. Progesterone levels rise during estrus and stimulate ovulation. After ovulation it takes 2 or 3 days for eggs to mature and be released for fertilization. Females become flirtatious with males during estrus and display behavior known as “flagging.” They may push their rear-ends toward a male’s chest and poke his chest with her nose. This behavior is also known as “standing heat.”
Other symptoms displayed during the Proestrus or Estus cycles can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Whining
  • Increased urination
  • Constant grooming of genital area
  • Moodiness

Diestrus can last from 50 to 80 days and happens whether or not the dog was impregnated. During this phase the dog’s body acts as if it’s pregnant and she may behave motherly towards other animals or toys. During diestrus the female has no interest in mating.

Anestrus is the past phase of the cycle and can last from 130 to 250 days. This is the resting phase when a female dog’s body begins to prepare itself for the next heat cycle.

Caring for your Shih Tzu

To keep your pet and your home neat use a pet diaper and change it regularly.

Keep your dog indoors as much as possible. Accompany her and keep her on a short leash when she must be outdoors. Male dogs can smell a female in heat as far as three miles away. Traces of her estrous odor will be left behind in the urine and act like a mating call for all the suitors in the neighborhood. Close supervision is needed to keep your Shih Tzu safe.

Provide her with an extra comfortable place to sleep and rest.

About Spaying

Spaying will not only end the hassle of the estrous cycle, it will keep your Shih Tzu healthier and may extend her life. Spaying reduces the chances of ovarian and mammarian cancer in female dogs and makes her senior years easier—going through heat once or twice a year is exhausting and unnecessary for an older dog.

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