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Jess is nearly eight months old, and I think she may be coming into season, but I don't know all the signs, or how to deal with this.

She is licking herself a lot more than usual, seems a little more swollen than usual, and has been eating garden plants by the bucketful to make herself sick for the last couple of days.

We will have her spayed after this season (and I know the current advice is to do this first, but we left it too long...).

Are the above symptoms likely to indicate her coming on heat? What else should we be looking out for, or doing for her? How long is she considered to be in season? Any other advice?

Thanks!
 

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Quite possibly. She will be in season for approximately three weeks, during which time you can't allow her outside unsupervised at all. Don't rely on fences to keep males out, they can be amazingly creative when trying to get to a girl in season. And since every girl is different, you can't rely on certain days being "safe", just assume she can get pregnant at any time during her heat.
 

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First to new puppy owners, make that appointment to have your dog spayed or neutered, now if you haven't already done so.

Jess is at the age when females go into heat and the signs you describe very well could indicate she's going into season but if you have any concerns check with your veterinarian.

You might want to put a white towel on her bed so you can the bleeding when it first begins. Here are a few links on estrus: Estrus or Heat cycle
Estrus in the bitch and queen
Estrus is Dogs

And then you have to worry about "false pregnancy" and pyometra. In "false pregnancy" the female thinks and acts like she's pregnant. It may also include lactation. And there's always the chance of mastitis.

Pyometra is an infection of the uterus that can occur around 6 weeks after estrus. I know bitches who have died so it's important to be on the lookout. I always had a female right to the vet if I noticed an increase in thirst following her season. Also lack of energy and a vaginal discharge can be signs. However in a "closed pyometra" there's no obvious discharge. Here are a couple of references: Pyometra In The Dog by T. J. Dunn, Jr. DVM
The Bitch – A Wolf in Dog’s Clothing

Also make sure she's not left unattended, even in a fenced in yard. Accidental breedings have been know to happen, even when the female was in a kennel.

Last but no least, call your vet today for an appointment to have her spayed. Most likely she'll come thru her season with "flying colors" ;) and will have no health issues related to it.

[ May 09, 2005, 07:15 AM: Message edited by: Barbara Winters ]
 

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Some bitches experience a discharge the entire three weeks, while in others, the discharge will lighten during the 3 week cycle. Even if the discharge seems to lighten or stop, she can still get pregnant during this 3-week time frame. :)
 
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