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Heat

The Pug Dog Heat Cycle

What Happens When a Female Pug is in Heat 

Heat is the term that is used to describe the time during a female dog's cycle of menstruation.  During the cycle, she is able to conceive and become pregnant. 

This cycle will be very different than a human female cycle and an owner should be informed about all of the aspects.

Age

This will begin sooner than many owners expect. The age she will have her first cycle is generally between 4 and 6 months old. However, this can vary quite a bit.

Some dogs enter the cycle early and some enter as late as 15 months.
If your dog is over 15 months and you have not noticed that she has entered into heat yet, she should be brought to the vet for a full checkup to see what is delaying this natural process.
Pug dog in heat
The Signs 
 
The signs of a Pug in heat include the following:

• Her vulva will become swollen; often you will be able to see a noticeable swell of the skin folds in the genital area.

• A small amount of blood will be discharged.  It may be mixed with other fluids and therefore the color will range from light to dark pink. The amount of blood will be a lot less than one may expect; smaller breed dogs often have very negligible amounts .

• Male dogs may seem overly interested in her, even stray male dogs may hang around your yard. Males that have not been neutered will be able to detect that your dog is in heat from as much as 3 miles away.
Confusing Heat with Anal Gland Secretion 

Some first time owners can become confused between blood discharge due to the heat cycle and discharge due to swollen anal glands.

All dogs have anal glands, one on each side of the anus. They hold an oily substance (often referred to as 'scent hormone') that is normally released in very small amounts when a dog has a bowel movement and when meeting other dogs. Sometimes, these can become enlarged and will need to be expressed by a groomer or vet. 

If they are enlarged and not expressed, they can rupture. Due to the discomfort that a dog feels, she may scoot her rear-end along the ground and this is normally how the skin breaks open.  When this happens, a dark colored substance (it may be orange, brown, dark red or black) will spill out.  And this can be mistaken as the bloody discharge of a heat cycle. 

How can you know the difference? The liquid from the glands will have a very nasty, foul smell…it can be quite overwhelming. During heat, there will be negligible odor.  

It is important to express the glands if they do become swollen so that you do not have a quite horrible mess to clean up and so that your Pug does not have to feel the discomfort. Most dog groomers can perform this task, as well as veterinarians. 
Pain and Discomfort 

While no one can say for sure, it is suggested from studies that a female's behavior shows that she is aware of her cycle and may indeed feel some cramping or discomfort. 

Many females may "nest", they will want more rest in a comfortable area, sometimes appearing to want to be alone and arranging blankets and other soft items around her. She may spend more time in her dog bed or resting area. She may show nesting behavior by bringing favorite toys or soft items into her bed with her.

Length

The average time a Pug's heat cycle lasts is 2 to 3 weeks and it will happen about 2 times per year. Until you have your Pug spayed, she may continue to have this for the rest of her life. It is not healthy for dogs of a senior age to go through this twice a year phase.

Split Heats

While most dogs will have normal heat cycles, once in a while a Pug can have a “split heat” in which there is a spacing issue. Quite simply, this means that the cycle will begin, it will stop for days (or a few weeks in some cases) and then begin again. 

This does not mean that your dog is having 2 heat cycles, it is technically 1 heat cycle that is disrupted and then begins again. It is thought that this occurs due to changing hormone levels.

Silent Heats

What does it mean when a Pug has a silent heat?  It refers to when the dog does indeed go through the estrus cycle but does not show any of the typical signs.  There may be very little discharge or the Pug may clean herself quickly and often enough that the owner does not notice. 

Do note that this is a different event than a missed heat and it can be difficult for an owner to know the difference. Completely skipping the entire cycle may be due to a medical issue, some which are quite serious. This includes:
  • Hypothyroidism- Other signs are: hair loss, dulling coat, black patches of skin, cold intolerance and/or weight gain.
  • Cushing's Disease - Other signs are increased thirst, bloated stomach, increased appetite and/ or thinning coat.
  • Diabetes - Other symptoms include increase in both thirst and urination,  being more hungry than normal and/or weight gain even if extra food is not ingested.
Because of this, if your Pug appears to miss her heat cycle and shows any clinical signs of a possible health problems, it is best to have her evaluated by the veterinarian as soon as possible. 
Spaying and Why This May Be a Good Idea 

All experienced veterinarians, breeders and clinical researchers are in agreement: Spaying your female Pug dog will give her a better chance for a healthy life. 

Many vets recommend having a female spayed even before she enters her first heat and doing so will have no ill effects. Unless you have serious plans to breed your Pug, this procedure should be done as soon as possible. Doing so will greatly reduce her risk of getting ovarian and mammary cancer.

Hygiene

While it is true that smaller breed dogs usually do not have as much discharge as much as larger ones, you may wish to protect your home and keep your dog clean by having her wear a doggie diaper. This is highly acceptable and is growing more popular each day. 

Toy breed dogs such as the Pug can wear dog clothes to cover the diaper if an owner wishes, and dog clothes are growing in popularity as well.
female Pug looking serious
Zoey, 2 years old
Photo courtesy of owners Traci and Kelli Costanzo
Safety 

If you have not yet had your Pug spayed and she is in heat the number 1 important safety rule is to keep her inside during this time as much as possible and when she must go outside, you must keep an eye on her while having her on a very short leash. Never underestimate the power and motivation of stray, un-neutered male dogs.

These dogs will be able to smell your dog's cycle from as many as 3 miles away. When your Pug urinates, blood will be mixed into this fluid and will leave the odor in the grass; even a trace amount will be enough to trigger a male dog's instinct.

Male dogs have been known to jump fences, run across busy roads and traverse any terrain to reach a female in heat. Many owners will find stray dogs in and around their homes during this time; they are just waiting to catch the female alone and it only takes a few minutes for mating to occur. Before exiting, open the door slowly and have a good look around before bringing her outside to eliminate.
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