The Akita heat cycle is a bit different than with other breeds. With many dogs, the age at which it begins is connected to the size of the dog. There are also behavioral changes that will come along with this issue that every owner should know about.
At What Age
Since the time of growth and maturing will last for the first 3 years (which is relatively a long time), the cycle will begin any time between the age of 6 months to 1 year old.
Many believe that this is the most productive of all heats, however this is debatable. In addition, to allow a pregnancy at this young of an age puts too much stress on a growing puppy. Proper breeding would dictate that one waits until the Akita is an adult, the age of at least 3 years.
Therefore, one must take care to keep a female in heat away from any intact males. Small traces of blood will be present in her urine and for this reason, when she urinates outside her scent is being released. This is a clear signal for males, that are able to sense this from up to 3 miles away. Owners should keep their female inside as much as possible and offer close supervision whenever outside for potty needs or in public for any reason.
In some locations, there are actually laws about dogs in heat, which state that an owner must keep their pet indoors at all times during this time.
Previously able to get along just fine with another female up until this point, once the first heat cycle begins, 2 females will begin to fight. This does NOT just occur during the cycle…It means that from this point on and forever, she will not get along with others of the same gender. She may tolerate or even be friends with a male that she was raised with, but may have a problem with a male that is now introduced into the home.
What to Expect
The following signs and symptoms are normal and to be expected:
• The vulva can become swollen
• Blood will be discharged. It will range from moderate to heavy. It is often red at first, but as she reaches ovulation, it can become a tannish color.
• She may show nesting behavior – This can include collecting household objects (either hers or yours) and keeping them in a particular area, she may seem to retreat a bit wanting to rest alone.
• Males will show great interest in her. As stated above, she must be supervised.
Studies are not conclusive about whether or not a dog feels pain as the uterus contracts, however one can assume that there must be some degree of discomfort. Mediation does not need to be given (and should not be given) however one need not worry if she is not as active and wants to rest more than usual.
How Often and For How Long
An Akita will enter heat roughly twice per year, however since it can vary in length this may actually mean (technically in a calendar year) 1 time one year and 3 times the next. However, every 6 months is approximate timing.
It will last for an average of 9 days, with 7 to 17 being a typical range.
Unlike humans, a canine will not have a slowdown in estrogen production which causes the intensity of the heat to minimize and then stop. Most will go through this for life, and this is one reason why owners choose to have their female spayed. With this being said, this breed is sensitive to many anesthetic medications therefore the issue of spaying must be discussed with a reputable veterinarian who is experienced with this breed.
There are benefits and risks to both options of either spaying or not. Doing so eliminates the stress that the dog endures, makes grooming & hygiene easier to control, can decrease the risks of certain cancers and obviously will stop the impregnation of your dog if you are not a breeder.
Choosing not to have this done can help you avoid possible risks which may include faster growth – which may be linked to skeletal issues. And some believe that spaying causes an increase of testosterone which can lead to more aggressive behavior.
One must have a conversation about the pros and cons and how they affect that particular dog and the particular owner...And then ultimately choose what is right and best for the Akita.
Keeping Your Dog and Home Clean
With a good amount of discharge, one must take steps to keep this from drying on the dog’s fur or from staining furniture, carpeting, etc. Many Akita have the natural instinct to self groom and your female will most likely do this when in heat. If you are finding that she is not able to do this often enough, you can help by simply wiping the area with a baby wipes, several times per day.
It can be helpful to lie down a blanket (baby blankets work best for pups and adolescents) in the areas in which she frequently rests such as the living room floor, etc. After the cycle, the blankets should be washed 2 times: First, with bleach and a hypo-allergenic detergent…And then with only the detergent.
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