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In most cases, caring for male dogs and female dogs isn't very different. However, female dogs have one biological function that sets them apart. Adult female dogs typically go through regular heat cycles. During this time, they may be a little uncomfortable and messy and need some special attention. If your dog is in heat, you may need help figuring out all of the details, from how long a dog's heat lasts to whether your dog needs special care while in heat.

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1. What Is a Dog's Heat?

A dog's heat is more appropriately called an estrous cycle in scientific terms. While it is sometimes compared to a human woman's menstruation, or period, it's really almost the opposite. Dogs are only fertile when they're in heat, while humans are generally not fertile while menstruating.

Dogs are not necessarily fertile during their entire heat, however. Most begin showing symptoms before they are actually ovulating. The period during which they are fertile is called estrus, and it usually occurs about a week after the first signs of heat appear. However, this can vary from dog to dog.

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