|Heat cycles are those times of year when pets are fertile and may be bred. In dogs heats usually occur twice a year and can last up to 3 weeks in many pets. Symptoms include:
Typically pets over 6 months of age may start their first heat cycle It is important that during this time animal guardians not allow their female dogs off leash and/or unsupervised due to the possible presence of male dogs, as most female dog bitches will allow breeding during this time.
In cats heats can occur. Unspayed female cats typically have 2-4 heat cycles per year, but may have many cycles certain times of year such as spring or fall. Unlike dogs, cats typically don’t have vaginal swelling and/or discharge, but they become more affectionate often lifting their hind end off the ground, as well as vocalizing and rolling on the floor.
It is best to spay a female dog and /or cat to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and adding to the pet overpopulation problem already present. I usually recommend waiting 30 days after a pet goes out of heat to have them spayed. Due to recent evidence of increased health benefits later on in life, I recommend waiting to spay a female dog until sexual maturity at age 10-12 months. Cats can be spayed over 6 months of age, although many shelters are doing them much younger.