Dog owners may at some time or another wonder whether senior dogs go in menopause and therefore whether dogs develop menopause symptoms. The question makes sense after all, since women go into menopause when they reach a certain age. Menopause is the time when women are no longer fertile and egg production stops.
In women, menopause typically takes place in the late 40s or early 50s and it’s often associated with annoying symptoms such as headaches and hot flashes. While dogs share with humans, similar body structures and physiological features in many ways it looks like when it comes to their reproductive tract, there are several differences. Veterinarian Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic, explains whether dogs go into menopause or not.
Do Dogs Go into Menopause?
By Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic DVM
Unlike women, there is no period in the dog’s reproductive and sexual cycle that could be called or be similar to menopause as it happens in women. In fact, dogs remain capable of fertilization throughout their whole lives.
After menopause, women are no longer fertile and egg production ceases. Dogs share many physiological similarities to humans, including a decline in fertility. While female dogs technically do not undergo menopause because their heat periods do not always stop completely, they reach a menopause-like state that shares signs and symptoms with human menopause.
Unlike women, there is no period in dogs reproductive and sexual cycle that could be called or be similar to menopause. In fact, they remain capable of fertilization throughout their whole life.
Sexual cycles and the ability to fertilize are starting in most cases at the age of 8 to 9 months. Therefore, from this time, intact female dogs are capable of fertilization. Of course, over time their “reproductive capacity”, i.e. the ability of fertility gradually declines. This roughly means that females between the ages of 8 to 9 years (small breeds of dogs), and after 6 years (for large breeds of dogs) have an extremely low probability of fertilization. According to some studies, the percentage is between 0-2 %. Also, the prevalence of sexual cycle, or interval between the onsets of sexual cycle is prolonged.
As a rule, the estrus in bitches is repeated cyclically every 6 months. Full cycles in older bitches are usually irregular. However, estrus does not stop completely even in very old individuals, which means that there is not an analogy with menopause in women.
Changes that may be expected are the extend period between the two estruses, lack of visible estrus or absence of variations in external signs typical of the individual phase. Bleeding can be scarce or enhanced.
Did you know? As intact female dogs grow older and go through several heat cycles, the become more and more predisposed to a potentially life threatening conditions known as “ canine pyometra.”
About the Author
DVM Ivana Vukasinovic is a veterinarian in Belgrade, capital city of Serbia.
She received her B.S from University of Belgrade in 2012, and her master’s degree from Veterinary University, Belgrade.
Before eventually becoming director of Vetanima Doo, company that sells animal food, medicine and supplements, she have worked in many different fields of sales.
After finishing college, she started working as sales person in biggest Serbian bookshop chain, and being passionate about books, she had reached the position of publisher.
After leaving this field, she started working as a veterinary commercialist, and then landing a job as veterinarian at veterinary pharmacy, in the same company in which she is now acting as director.
When she is not working, she is either glued to some fantasy book or cooking for friends. She currently resides in Belgrade with her cat Mile.