This is a follow up blog to the post on Stella's first heat cycle. Stella finished her heat cycle in the first few days of May. She is now in the diestrus phase which means her body is hormonally pregnant even if she is not. Some dogs will show symptoms of false pregnancy during this time. This phase typically lasts two to three months until we go into the dormant anestrus phase between heat cycles. We are just now closing in on two months since the end of her season.
The first few weeks after her heat were "interesting". Although she was finished her season she seemed to retain a lingering smell that was attractive to other dogs. She is generally a meek dog when she meets new dogs and initially throws out submissive, calming signals and then bounces more into her normal playful self. While she was in this stage she became defensive of dogs smelling her and actually air snapped at dogs that got personal. It was not a comfortable behaviour for her so I did my best to keep her out of those types of situations. Riley also continued to be interested in her during that time but she was able to handle him better by diverting his advances into more play type behaviours or just sitting down until we would redirect him away from her. Those behaviours from other dogs have greatly reduced but she continues to have an attractive smell to some male dogs that we meet. Luckily those smelling episodes are not nearly as intense as the earlier ones so she is able to cope with being "checked out" and I can usually easily just call her away. Apparently that is not very common but is not unheard of as their bodies return back to normal hormonal levels. It is possible that because this is her first cycle that things are still kinda wacky. I am hopeful that will stop over the next few weeks.
Her nipples and vulva reduced noticeably at the end of her heat and then there have been very slow minor changes since then. I've noticed just this week that her vulva area is pretty much back to normal but is more pronounced than before. Her nipples have lost almost all the puffiness although the actual nipples are still a bigger size and will also stay that way.
She had problems with her ears as well. They developed little scabby cracks around some of the edges. I'm not sure it this was from Riley licking her ears or if it was just a bit of her immune system recovering but again I hear it is a common happening with Vizslas. My vet told me to keep them moist and protected from insects. I tried a few things. I'm not a fan of antibiotic ointments except in specific instances so did not use those. Bag balm worked okay but is quite sticky and she hated the smell of it. I then remembered virgin coconut oil which I tried and had very good success with. It melts fast, absorbs quickly and has natural anti-fungal properties. I just coated the ear a few times a day and within a few days they were healed.
There have been a few minor changes in her temperment as well. She never used to mark very much on walks prior to her heat but does a lot more of that now. Some of her single dog to dog greetings when we meet on the trails are a bit different as well. She seems to focus in on the approaching dog, then barks and bounces in a manner that borders on a ruder style of greeting. I think that is probably a combination of her age, having extra attention from dogs smelling her, and also being walked more alone due to Riley's recent exercise restrictions. She would normally just take her cues from him and now is working out more of her own thing. Luckily it is easy to tell by her body language when she is going to greet like that so I call her back into heel, reward and walk a few steps and then give her the "go see" command which breaks up the pattern and she greets appropriately.
I have cut back her food a bit the past few weeks as I think she has put on a few pounds since the end of her cycle. I haven't weighed her recently but she was 39-40 pounds heading into her heat which I thought seemed to be a good weight for her. I will monitor that to see if she returns back to her normal food requirements over the next few weeks as she leaves the diestrus phase or perhaps this is just a symptom of her normal food requirements leveling off at lower levels as she is finishing growing.
Today is Canada Day so I leave you with a pic of my smiling Lucy on a sunny Canada Day a few years ago shortly before we said goodbye.