Learn the average age and length of the first heat cycle, pregnancy length, and about spaying and neutering in dogs. Also learn about abnormal conditions such as ectopic ovaries and pseudopregnancy (false pregnancy).
Related: Feline Reproduction
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Common canine reproduction questions, including: For how long is a dog pregnant? Do female dogs experience menopause? How long does a dog stay in heat (estrus)? What about spaying (ovariohysterectomy) surgery? Learn the answers to these questions and more in this FAQ.
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Learn the terminology and what happens before, during and after the spay operation in female dogs and cats.
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Most non-spayed female dogs will typically go into "heat" or estrus twice a year. The age at which they start their cycles and the duration of the cycle varies greatly between the breeds of dogs and individual dogs. Learn more facts about canine estrus in this FAQ.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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The short answer is yes, a dog that is in heat (called estrus) may be spayed. However, there are increased risks and costs due to the potential for additional blood loss. The age, weight and general health of the patient are also factors to consider.
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Question from a viewer: "Our female dog was spayed when she was four to five months old. She is now 1-1/2 years old and bleeding; our male dog keeps trying to mate with her. The vet told my husband that sometimes this happens and that the way the dog's uterus is sometimes they miss an ovary and have to go back in. I cannot see that this is possible if they removed the uterus. Does anyone know if this is possible?"
Related: What is an Ectopic Ovary?
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Cryptorchidism is when one or both testicles fail to descend into the scrotum. This condition is a fairly common problem; seen in dogs, cats, and other animals. This is a well-documented genetic trait—animals with this condition should not be bred. Find out why in this FAQ.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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This question has come up for both dogs and cats. Viewers want to know if once littermates reach puberty, will they...mate? Or will they "know" they are brother and sister and refrain?
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If you know or suspect that your pet is pregnant, caution is advised when considering vaccinations. In some cases, the health of the mother or legal requirements (i.e., travel) may require vaccinations. This FAQ discusses various health risks associated with pregnant or nursing animals and vaccinations.
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Knowing the normals—heart rate, respiration, temperature and length of pregnancy—will help you be a keen observer and advocate for your pet's health.