shih tzus in heat

Managing Shih Tzus in Heat: 2023 Guide to the Heat Cycle

Navigating the unique phase of shih tzus in heat? Let’s discuss care, symptoms, and what to expect during this time.

Shih Tzus in Heat: Understanding and Managing the Heat Cycle of Your Shih Tzu

A Delicate Matter for Shih Tzu Owners

Shih Tzus are beloved pets known for their spunky personalities, adorable looks, and loyalty to their owners. However, as with all dogs, they go through heat cycles that can pose challenges for owners who are not prepared to deal with them. Understanding the heat cycle of a female Shih Tzu is essential for managing it effectively and avoiding potential risks associated with it. The heat cycle in Shih Tzus is a natural biological process that starts when they reach sexual maturity, usually around 6 months old. It is important to note that male dogs also experience changes during this period, mostly behavioral changes due to increased scent marking or aggression toward other male dogs. This article will focus on the heat cycle in female Shih Tzus.

Potential Risks and Challenges

One of the most significant risks associated with a Shih Tzu’s heat cycle is unwanted pregnancy. Female dogs can mate and become pregnant during their fertile time unless they are spayed or kept away from male dogs. Moreover, some owners may not realize their dog has escaped from the house or backyard until days later when it’s too late to prevent pregnancy. Another challenge during this period is behavioral changes. The hormonal shifts cause many females to become more agitated than usual or exhibit aggressive behaviors towards other animals – even humans. Similarly, some may show signs of anxiety like excessive barking or whining. Health issues may arise if proper hygiene conditions aren’t maintained during this time; vaginal infections or urinary tract infections are common examples. Not only can these issues be uncomfortable for your pet but can lead to serious complications if left untreated. Understanding your female Shih Tzu’s heat cycle is crucial for their overall well-being and your peace of mind as a pet owner. The next section will describe the different stages of a Shih Tzu’s heat cycle, which will help you recognize when your pet is in heat and how best to manage it.

Understanding the Heat Cycle of Shih Tzus

Shih Tzus, like all female dogs, go through a heat cycle that prepares their body for breeding. The heat cycle, also known as estrous cycle, has four stages: proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. Understanding each stage of the heat cycle is essential for Shih Tzu owners to manage their dog’s reproductive health effectively.

What Is the Heat Cycle?

The heat cycle is a hormonal process that prepares a female dog’s body for reproduction. It typically begins between six and twelve months of age but may vary depending on the breed and individual dog. Female dogs go through two types of cycles during their lifetime: estrous (heat) and anestrous (non-heat). Estrous cycles consist of four stages: proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. During these stages, different hormone levels fluctuate in a specific pattern that triggers physical changes in the female dog’s body.

The Four Stages of Heat Cycle

Proestrus is the first stage of the heat cycle. It usually lasts around nine days but can range from three to seventeen days in Shih Tzus. During this time, estrogen levels increase as the ovaries prepare to release eggs. Owners may notice some signs during proestrus such as vaginal discharge with blood or pinkish coloration; swollen vulva; increased urination frequency; and changes in behavior including restlessness or anxiety. Estrus follows proestrus and typically lasts around nine days. This is when ovulation occurs – when mature eggs are released from the ovaries into the uterus waiting for fertilization to occur. This stage can last anywhere from three to twenty-one days depending on individual dogs. During this phase owners should be cautious as their dog is receptive to male dogs and can mate. The discharge also turns a lighter color, the vulva appears less swollen, and the Shih Tzu may show behavioral changes like seeking attention from males or becoming more affectionate. Diestrus occurs after estrus when fertilization does not happen. It lasts approximately sixty days, but its length varies between dogs. Progesterone levels increase to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. During this stage, the vulva returns to normal size, and there is no more vaginal discharge. Anestrus is the final stage of a Shih Tzu’s heat cycle. It is a resting phase that lasts around four months in most dogs before returning to proestrus.


Understanding each stage of your Shih Tzu’s heat cycle is crucial for managing their reproductive health effectively. Knowing when your dog will be in heat can help you decide when it’s safe to let her play with other dogs or plan for breeding if desired. It’s essential to monitor your Shih Tzu closely during her heat cycle, especially during estrus when she is receptive to mating and may become restless or anxious. In the next section, we will discuss some of the signs that indicate your Shih Tzu is in heat so that you can better manage their reproductive health during this important time.

Signs that Your Shih Tzu is in Heat

Shih Tzus, like other dogs, go through a heat cycle, also known as the estrous cycle. It is important for owners to be aware of the signs that indicate their female Shih Tzu is in heat. The following are some common signs of a Shih Tzu in heat:

Vaginal Bleeding

One of the most noticeable signs of a female Shih Tzu’s heat cycle is vaginal bleeding. This can vary from light spotting to heavy bleeding and can last anywhere from 7 to 14 days. Owners should make sure their dog has access to clean bedding and consider using dog diapers or sanitary pads during this time.

Swollen Vulva

During the proestrus stage of the heat cycle, the vulva will become swollen and enlarged. This can be uncomfortable for the dog, and she may lick or groom herself excessively in this area.

Increased Urination Frequency

A female Shih Tzu’s increased urination frequency during her heat cycle is due to hormonal changes that stimulate her bladder. Owners should make sure there are plenty of opportunities for their dog to go outside and urinate frequently during this time.

Changes in Behavior

Behavioral changes can also be an indicator that your Shih Tzu is in heat. She may become more restless or clingy than usual, seeking attention from her owner or other dogs. She may also show aggression towards male dogs if they try to approach her while she is in heat. While these are common signs of a female Shih Tzu’s heat cycle, it is essential for owners to understand what constitutes normal behavior during this time versus abnormal behavior that may require veterinary attention. It’s important to note that some dogs may not exhibit all of these signs or may exhibit them to different degrees. Owners should monitor their dog’s behavior closely during this time and seek veterinary attention if they notice any unusual symptoms or behaviors. Differentiating between normal and abnormal behavior during a Shih Tzu’s heat cycle can be tricky, but there are some key things to look out for. Normal behaviors during the heat cycle include restlessness, increased affection towards the owner, and an increase in urination frequency. Abnormal behaviors that may require veterinary attention include lethargy, refusal to eat or drink water, excessive vomiting or diarrhea, uncontrolled bleeding, and fever. Understanding the signs that indicate your Shih Tzu is in heat is crucial for responsible pet ownership. By recognizing these symptoms, owners can effectively manage their dog’s heat cycle and prevent unwanted pregnancies while also keeping an eye out for any unusual symptoms that may require veterinary attention.

Managing Your Shih Tzu’s Heat Cycle


Spaying is the most common method of managing a Shih Tzu’s heat cycle. It involves removing the ovaries and uterus, which eliminates the dog’s ability to reproduce and stops the heat cycle altogether. This procedure can be done as early as six months old, but some owners prefer to wait until their dog is a bit older. Spaying has many benefits beyond just controlling the heat cycle, such as reducing the risk of certain cancers and infections.


Another option for managing a Shih Tzu’s heat cycle is medication. There are several types of medication available that can help control or suppress a dog’s heat cycle, including hormone injections, oral contraceptives, and progesterone-based pills. However, it’s important to note that these medications may have side effects and should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Dog Diapers

For owners who prefer not to spay or use medication, dog diapers can be an effective way to manage a Shih Tzu’s heat cycle. These diapers are designed to fit snugly around your dog’s waist and contain any discharge or mess associated with being in heat. They come in different sizes and styles, so it may take some trial-and-error to find one that fits your Shih Tzu comfortably.


Some owners choose to manage their Shih Tzu’s heat cycle by separating them from male dogs during this time. This can mean keeping your dog inside or away from other dogs when she goes outside for walks or potty breaks. It requires careful monitoring on the part of the owner but can be effective if done correctly.


Managing your Shih Tzu’s heat cycle is an important part of being a responsible pet owner. Whether you choose to spay, use medication, or rely on dog diapers or separation, it’s important to find a method that works for you and your specific lifestyle. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the pros and cons of each option before making any decisions. With proper management, you can help ensure that your Shih Tzu stays healthy and happy during her heat cycle. Remember, every dog’s heat cycle is unique, so be patient and don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.

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