For every intact female English Bulldog owner, the issue of the heat cycle is very important. Moreover, if you don’t want to breed your English Bulldog, you should be able to recognize the heat symptoms and take good care of your dog during this specific period.
So here is my first-hand experience on the subject, one of my closest friends Ann is the owner of an English Bulldog – Molly. Ann had to go on a long business trip so she left her dog with me. Since I already have a dog – Cleo (a different breed), she knew that Molly would be in good hands and have good company. What we didn’t count on is that Molly would go into heat while in my house.
The most common symptoms that your English Bulldog is in the heat :
- Bloody discharge ( approximate duration 3-17 days )
- Swollen vulva ( during the whole cycle )
- Enlarged nipples
- Changes in appetite (more common is appetite loss but increased appetite is also possible)
- Changes in behavior ( dog may become clingy, nervous, alert, develop nesting behavior)
- Lack of energy, sleepiness
- Flirting behavior like tail flagging ( during second phase – Estrus )
- Agressive with other female dogs ( during second phase – Estrus)
- Excessive urination
- Excessive liciking of private parts
How To Know If English Bulldog is In Heat?
I am sure you realized that I am not an owner of an English Bulldog. But I have experience with dogs and I went through several heat cycles with my dog Cleo before I finally took her to the spaying procedure. After taking care of Molly during heat I wanted to share my experience in order to help the other owners of this loving and loyal breed.
English Bulldog will experience her first heat at the age of 6-8 months. Heat cycles should repeat every 6 months but be aware of the fact that in the beginning heat cycles won’t be so regular.
Usually, it needs to pass at least two years in order to heat cycles to become predictable. It’s recommended to keep a record of the date of your Bulldog’s first day of bleeding.
This will help you know in which heat stage your Bulldog is and what will happen in the next two to three weeks plus will help you to predict the time of the next heat cycle.
Obviously, my friend Ann didn’t do the homework well so had no idea that Molly would go into a heat cycle during her absence. Anyway, I had to manage it the best way I could.
So how to be sure that your English Bulldog is in heat? This is an important question especially for novice owners or for those who have handled only desexed dogs so far.
Fortunately, the heat cycle has some very visible signs so you don’t need much effort to spot them.
Every English Bulldog dog goes through 3 main stages – Proestrus, Estrus, and Diestrus.
Proestrus is the initial phase of the heat cycle. Swollen vulva and bloody discharge are the most prominent symptoms. Excessive licking of the genital area and excessive urination are also something that happens often during this period.
Your Bulldog girl is not in the mood to hang out with boys, even though her body started to attract them. She may show signs of aggressive behavior toward males but she still has a friendly attitude towards females. This is about to change soon.
In this phase, your dog may become a bit skittish, nervous, or develop clingy behavior. She may have reduced appetite and a lack of energy.
Molly was so clingy, she actually become a real velcro dog. Fortunately, my Cleo is not a jealous puppy pooch, she is very friendly and likes to play with Molly, so we had no issue during this phase. I can say that Molly was agitated if I wanted to cuddle Cleo so I minimized the cuddling sessions with Cleo when Molly is around.
Note that some changes in behavior during the heat cycle depend on a dog’s personality and vary greatly from dog to dog. Some English Bulldogs may become aggressive, expressing pushy behavior. Some otherwise calm Bulldogs may become agitated and nervous. I didn’t experience any of these with Molly.
The Estrus phase is the most dangerous period, especially if you don’t want to breed your dog and produce Bulldog babies.
This is the time when your English Bulldog girl becomes receptive to males, her bloody discharge almost disappears but not entirely as it becomes pale in color and very thin. Once it becomes watery it means that your dog is in her most fertile phase.
This is the time when your dog may become hostile towards other female dogs. They seem like a competition to her! We were lucky again because Molly wasn’t aggressive with Cleo at all.
On the other hand, she couldn’t get along with other female dogs from a neighborhood so I kept her away for both girls’ and boys’ company.
Note that the Estrus phase is rather a loud period. Your dog might be howling or whining. You shouldn’t worry about this, she is not in pain or anything.
This point of that noise is to call the males from the vicinity and inform them that there is one female ready to breed.
During this phase, your English Bulldog girl may become more needy, seeking more of your attention. She may insist on playing with one particular toy, hiding it all the time. This behavior is completely normal and it will go away in 7-10 days, no worries.
Diestrus is the third phase of the heat cycle. Things slowly get back to normal. Your dog’s vulva is not swollen anymore, there is no discharge, she returns to her usual self.
What Does My English Bulldog in Heat Need (+ Care Tips)
Your English Bulldog Needs Additonal Attention
Bulldog in heat may crave human attention. Cuddling sessions are a must during her heat cycle. Try to be gentle and calm when handling your dog.
Avoid high-pitched tones and yelling at your dog, especially if she makes a mess unintentionally. You need to send her a message that there is nothing wrong with her.
Note that the heat cycle might be a frustrating experience for a young Bulldog that doesn’t know what is happening. The same stress may occur in older dogs as well. So be patient and kind.
Give Your English Bulldog peace, If She Wants It
Totally opposite, some dogs prefer to isolate as much as possible during the heat cycle. Having a crate is super important these days, as the crate is something only hers, her own private cave, a place where your Bulldog girl can be alone if she wants to.
While some Bulldogs like to stay isolated, others will be perfectly happy with a big, soft cushion or doggy bed in the corner of your busy living room.
This means that your dog prefers to be in your vicinity but she would like to reduce interaction to a minimum. Respect that.
Molly was very tired during her heat and she was happy to snuggle into soft cushions I placed for her in my room. But she was also thrilled to nestle in my lap and enjoy cuddles, especially leg massage. Oh, she loved that!
Even though English Bulldog usually doesn’t bleed heavily when in heat, the vaginal discharge still makes a mess. Not just that.
Dogs in heat may urinate more frequently so you get a picture of how your house can become messy unless you do something. Doggy diapers are the perfect solution.
They come in different sizes, styles, and prices. You will be able to find disposable ones but if you care more for the environment do purchase fabric washable diapers. I picked disposable ones as it was more practical for me.
Some people are not willing to accept changing diapers for three weeks. As a matter of fact, bleeding doesn’t last more than 7-10 days. If you still don’t want to mess with diapers limit your dog to one room only, preferably with linoleum flooring which makes cleaning much easier.
Note that vaginal discharge doesn’t have a very pleasant smell. If you need to leave your dog for a couple of hours, do think twice about diapers, especially if you have a sensitive nose.
Dogs will lick themselves ( self-grooming) but they won’t clean floors, bedding, toys, etc. They will leave all that stuff to you. That’s why prepare some light-colored blankets which are easily washed and bleached and use to cover a doggy bed. Instead of blankets, you can use disposable pee pads for the same purpose.
The main idea is to keep your home clean and tidy. If you use these items and change them frequently, you will succeed.
Keep Your English Bulldog Away From Other Dogs
Being in heat means that a dog doesn’t behave as usual so you might consider keeping your English Bulldog inside and far from other dogs, especially dog parks during her heat cycle. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t walk your dog.
This breed is not so energetic but still needs some physical activity. English Bulldog needs at least 20-30 min of physical activity daily. Of course, if you see that your dog is tired don’t force her to go for a long walk but she is willing to go outside please always keep her on the leash.
The males are an obvious threat ( of course if you don’t want to breed your dog intentionally) and the problem is that they can smell the female in heat at very long distances ( cca 3 miles/ 5km ).
Other females are not the same kind of threat of course, but their interaction might be a challenge. Females in heat might be very aggressive towards other female dogs, especially during the second phase ( Estrus stage ) when they become receptive to males.
No matter you have a big, fence yard, don’t let your English Bulldog wander around unsupervised. Male dogs are super creative and very stubborn when they have to reach the female in heat. They will overcome every obstacle! I had to play the role of a bad policeman by returning a neighbor’s dog from my doorstep constantly. They were so pushy!
Keep Your English Bulldog Distracted
It’s natural that mating is the only thought Bulldog has during the heat cycle. Hormonal changes are so immense that she cannot do anything about them. But you can try to distract her a little bit.
For example, you can offer her a new toy every few days ( especially chewing toys that are perfect to calm the anxious dog) or you two can play a new game more often. I bought a few toys on some sales and Molly was thrilled with a treat-dispensing interactive toy and squeaky rubber dog toy. I also had some snake tug toys so I was switching them every few days.
Visit A Vet
If you are first time owner or you are especially concerned, it will be a good idea to visit a vet. Even though the heat cycle in dogs is not unnatural, it’s normal to have tons of questions and possible concerns. The vet’s practice is the right place to find the answers.
Appetite Loss During the Heat Cycle, What to Do About It?
Your English Bulldog may experience appetite loss during the heat cycle. This is also the consequence of hormonal changes.
There is a massive increase in estrogen levels, along with other hormone changes( estradiol, progesterone, and others). All these changes strongly affect appetite.
What you need to do is to offer high-quality, appealing food. Since your dog will eat less during the heat cycle, she needs to eat highly nutritious food.
No matter you feed your English Bulldog with dry food/ wet food/ raw diet, make sure she gets all nutrients she needs. Note that your Bulldog girl might be more fastidious than usual when it comes to food, so maybe you will have to do some tricks.
Molly’s favorite kibbles are Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight but during her heat cycle, she wasn’t really interested in them. I struggled with her appetite for almost 2 weeks. These are the things I found and some of them proved to be very helpful
Pour some warm water in dry food to make it tastier or you can sprinkle some nice food toppers such as:
Petchup Variety Pack rich in glucosamine, omega 3 fatty acids, and prebiotics or
The Honest Kitchen Proper Topper will boost your dog’s immune system and enhance vitamin and mineral level
You can also offer more treats than usual. Make sure those treats are healthy and rich in nutrients. Home-made treats are also a good idea.
For example, take quality coconut oil and blueberries. You need a mold ( no matter the shape) in which you should put blueberries ( 3-4 blueberries in each hole).
Heat the coconut oil until it becomes liquid and then pour it into each hole of the mold, freeze it. When it’s solid, pop them out of the mold and keep them in the freezer. The perfect treat for a dog in the heat especially during hot summer days.