The Golden retriever is a popular dog breed known for their playful and affectionate personality. Due to their amiable nature, they make excellent dogs for many novice fur parents, especially those with young children. They are social, intelligent, and can get along well with other pets, and even strangers.
Due to their reputation as being easy to train, many people prefer to adopt Golden retriever puppies, so their children have a chance to bond with their pup as they grow. While adopting a puppy is an exciting adventure, it can also be a challenging time if you don’t know what to expect.
As your puppy grows, they will experience many different physical changes. Each of these stages can be exciting milestones on your puppy’s road to maturity, but they can also be challenging to navigate if you’re unprepared. Having all of the information before your puppy hits these milestones will help you adjust to your puppy’s needs and make sure you have all you need to care for her properly.
Tale-Tell Signs That Your Golden Retriever Is Going Into Heat
There is no specific time that a puppy of any breed starts going into heat. The American Kennel Club advises that while a dog’s first heat usually happens around six months of age, it could take up to two years for a dog to experience their first heat.
Signs to Watch Out For
- Swollen Vulva
If you feel comfortable inspecting your dog, you might notice that your dog’s vulva is swollen or inflamed. Worry not for this is a natural part of the changes your puppy’s body is going through.
- Bloody or Straw-Colored Discharge from the Vulva
This change might be more noticeable, as puppies can sometimes stain furniture or their beds without realizing it. It’s important not to shame your puppy, although you may want to set up rules about letting your puppy sleep on the bed or cuddling on the couch with children while she is going through her heat cycle.
- Excessive Licking of the Genital Area
Some dogs might be uncomfortable with the changes their bodies are experiencing, and lick their genital area to get some relief. They might also be trying to clean their genitals and might need some assistance from you to remove any discharge from the fur.
- Anxious or Aggressive Behavior
This behavior is something that you want to keep an eye out for, especially if your puppy is around young children or other pets. While some dogs might appear more skittish than usual and less playful than before, other dogs might turn aggressive or irritable. You should monitor these changes closely to ensure they don’t get out of hand. Your puppy’s playful and sweet demeanor should return once the heat cycle is over.
- Urinating More Frequently
Due to the increased pressure in her genital region, your puppy may need to go more frequently. This can become challenging to manage, especially if you’re unable to take her on walks often, or let her out into the backyard to go. It may be worthwhile to stock up on puppy pee pads and make sure your puppy knows how to use them, just in case she has an accident in the house.
- Change in Tail Position
At the beginning of her heat cycle, your puppy might hold her tail close to her body. She might begin approaching male dogs with her tail held to the side as she enters the next stage. This change in tail position is a sign that she’s interested in mating with them.
Paying attention to how your dog moves her tail when around male dogs can be an essential clue as to what stage of the heat cycle she is. Dogs frequently communicate with their tails, so knowing how to read these signs can be an essential clue as to what your puppy needs from you.
- Increased Interest in Male Dogs
Your puppy is going through puberty. She wants to mate with other dogs. While it may be cute to think of it as “puppy love,” this is the best time to keep your puppy away from other dogs. Remember that when a female dog emits breeding pheromones, she is signaling to male dogs that she’s ready to have a litter.
Likewise, a female in heat might chase other dogs in an attempt to find a mate. It’s a good idea to keep your dog’s identification tags, and microchip registry information is up to date, in case your puppy runs off to find an eligible mating partner.
For How Long Will the Heat Cycle Last?
Golden retrievers are larger dogs, so they’re usually in heat for about two to four weeks, although the cycle will vary from one pup to the next. One easy way to know if your dog has finished their heat cycle is to check their vulva. When it returns to its standard size, and there’s no discharge or bleeding, this usually means that they are no longer in heat.
Losing interest in finding a mate can also be another sign that your Golden retriever is finishing her heat cycle, although this is a less reliable method. This sign is even harder to notice if your puppy typically doesn’t socialize with other dogs often.
What Can I Do to Make My Puppy More Comfortable?
Fortunately, with a little knowledge and planning, there are several things you can do at home to make sure that your puppy has a good experience during their first heat. One of the best ways to keep your puppy comfortable during this period is to spend extra time with her.
While she might be nervous about the physical changes happening to her body, it’s essential to take the time to reassure her that she’s still a loved member of the family. While limiting her time off-leash or outside might feel like punishment, you should provide her with extra stimulation, like new toys or treats, to help keep her occupied indoors.
Keeping your dog clean is also crucial in making sure she feels well cared for during this time. Although she will try to lick herself clean, she might need more frequent baths to clean up her fur. Having wet wipes on hand to spot-clean the area is also a good idea. Although it might be uncomfortable for your dog, most pet supply stores also sell dog diapers to prevent stains on the carpet or other furniture.
Although most dogs love extra treats, your puppy might not be as hungry as she was before. On the other hand, some dogs might experience a substantial increase in appetite, and you might find them scarfing down their food faster than usual. Make sure to keep your feeding patterns consistent, and provide her with nutritious dog food, whether wet or dry.
If you’re worried that your puppy is getting older and hasn’t experienced her first heat, it’s a good idea to check with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.
Likewise, if you feel that your puppy is in heat for far too long, or seems to be experiencing abnormal symptoms, it’s a good idea to take your puppy for a check-up. Your vet can perform physical exams and genetic testing to rule out the risk of any other conditions.
Even though going through heat can be frustrating for both you and your Golden retriever puppy, this is an exciting chapter. It means that your puppy is finally on her way to becoming an adult. Congratulations!