Several people have asked me recently, if it is possible to stop a heat in dog. They were unpleasant with the whole situation when the dog must not be let alone in the yard, had to be guarded, and were restless most of the time.
To answer short, Yes, there is a method to stop a heat cycle in dogs.
However, owners who seek a relief for their misery may be left disappointed, because you will still need to protect your dog. Protective period will be shorter, but it will not disappear at all. If someone wants to escape from caring for a dog in heat, using medications is not the best option. But it’s your choice.
How the heat cycle postponement work in dogs?
Heat cycle in dogs can be halted by using megestrol acetate (commercial name: Ovaban).
Above all, these medications must be used under veterinarian recommendation and supervision only. While they may be available with no prescription in some countries, most of the world markets require it. And it’s not without a reason.
Megestrol acetate is a synthetic derivative of a hormone called progesterone.
Naturally, level of this hormone starts climbing near the ovulation of the dog (about day nine of he heat). It then suppresses the hormone called estrogen, which is high before it, and plays an important role in continuation of the heat.
If megestrol acetate, that is a synthetic derivative of progesterone, is given to the dog during the beginning of the heat, output of the estrogen (the hormone which is high before ovulation) is suppressed and stops developing, thus breaking the heat cycle.
Is stopping a heat cycle in dogs safe?
Stopping the heat cycle by using Ovaban sounds like an easy and harmless hormonal modification. Like speeding up things and ending the heat cycle earlier. However, there are things you should be aware of:
Veterinary guidance and manufacturer instructions. I already wrote it above (there, in bold, red letters – it’s important), but it’s not possible to mention it too often. Do not use ovaban on your own. Ask a vet for instructions, do not exceed prescribed dosages and inform him if unexpected happens.
Contraindications. Megestrol acetate should not be used in pregnant dogs, dogs who have uterine disease, diabetes mellitus or mammary tumors. Also, there should be caution using it for young dogs who have not developed stable heat cycle, or for dogs who undergo stress. Contraindications, not mentioned here, must be discussed with a veterinarian.
Aversive effects. Like most medications, Ovaban also has a long list of contraindications. They vary starting from increased appetite (and weight gain), or fatigue, and ending with mammary tumors, and some studies showed a development of diabetes. Some may say, most drugs have long lists and they are used anyway. That’s right, every treatment is about taking risks. If we are healing cancer, we may take the risk of getting diabetes in exchange. But if we are treating heat cycle (which is not even a disease), diabetes is an unnecessary risk, no matter how small.
Keep your dog isolated during therapy. While the therapy, in most cases, is intended to stop the heat cycle and stop worries about unwanted pregnancy, you still have to avoid your dog mating during the therapy. In most cases, it lasts for eight days or more. If the mating occurred, use of the megestrol acetate must be cancelled (unless your vet says you may continue it which often happens if mating occurred near the ending of the therapy).
Consider spaying. If megestrol acetate (Ovaban) is used to escape worries about the dog in heat, and the dog is not intended for breeding, spaying must be seriously considered. However, surgery must done when the dog is not in heat. I know there are people, who say, spaying is not natural, but you know what is not natural, as well? Giving hormonal medications and domesticating wild animals (even if dogs were domesticated thousands of years ago).
If the above contraindications or aversive effects did not scare you, you may go to your vet and ask for more information about halting a heat cycle in dogs. Therapy must be started during the first three days of the heat, though. But remember, list of aversive effects is not just letters on instructions. They actually do happen, and many of them are not rarities.
If you are really responsible dog owner, you’d want to stop dog from coming in heat by spaying, not halting the cycle each time it starts.