Problems With a Dog's Heat Cycle

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One visitor's dog displays odd behavior and symptoms of pain. Could problems with her heat cycle be to blame?

Visitor Reports Problems With Dog's Heat Cycle

I have an eight-year-old female Cocker Spaniel/Beagle mix. She had puppies around two-years-old and was not a good mom. She hated the puppies, and would bite them if she got near them so I cared for them.

She has had no other litters since then, but about three times a year she goes through this ritual of getting some stuffed animals and laying them around her like they are her puppies. She cleans them, and we can't even come near her or she will bite us or get upset. She walks around whining a lot too.

Our vet said he thought she just wanted puppies, and maybe it had something to do with her heat cycles. Then for the past four years, right after her "thinking" she had puppies, she would act like she hurt when she wagged her tail. She would yelp and grab at her bottom, but it was just a split second pain and then things were fine. The vet said this was probably also related to her heat cycle, or perhaps her female parts. However, the pains would only last for a few days and then she would act normally again.

This time things are different. She started with the stuffed animal routine, then became obsessed with "humping" my husband's leg. Next she started exhibiting pain, but this time it is bad. She is not able to jump without yelping in pain. She will not move her tail at all; she just holds it between her legs and shakes like she is afraid.

She refuses to move, so we brought the food and water dish to her and she eats fine. She will stand for hours as if she is afraid of sitting down. She is urinating and having normal bowel movements, but goes on her tail since she will not move it out from between her legs.

We only have one vet in our tiny town, and he is on vacation for the next two weeks. Any suggestions on what it could be or what to do until our vet is back in town?

Expert Reply

I have to admit, I have never heard of anything quite like this. From what you're telling me, I also do not have a lot of confidence in your current vet. He really should have made provisions to either bring in a temporary replacement, or directed his clients to the next closest veterinary office.

Your dog's behavior with the stuffed animals may be related to false pregnancies, but I cannot even hazard a guess about the painful rear end issues.

Here's what I recommend:

  • First, take your dog to another vet in a nearby town, tell him/her your whole story and ask that your dog be given a complete examination. You need to check for possible physical reasons for the pain.
  • Second, I believe that having your dog spayed would end most of the problems you're witnessing. Frankly, I'm surprised your vet hasn't discussed that alternative with you by now.

Please take my advice to heart. There's no reason to wait for your current vet's return. If he hasn't done anything to help your dog in the last six years, there's no reason to believe he will do anything now.

~~ Kelly

Shedding and Heat Cycles

My American Staffordshire Terrier recently started her heat cycle. Before this, she never really had a shedding problem, but now she is shedding all over the place. Is this normal?

Thanks~~ Jessica

Expert Reply

Hi Jessica,

From your description, I'm guessing that this is probably your dog's first heat cycle. Shedding often accompanies a bitch's season and this is typically due to the fluctuation in her hormone levels. The shedding may also be increased by the fact that we are heading into fall, and your dog will be gearing up to grow a nice thick winter coat. Unfortunately for you, both "seasons" arrived at the same time.

Eventually her coat will return to normal, but in the meantime some extra brushing will help cut the fur floating around your home to a minimum. You can also use the hose attachment on your vacuum to help remove loose fur if it doesn't seem to upset your dog.

Thanks for your question~~ Kelly

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Problems With a Dog's Heat Cycle