Hormones & Reproduction
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Are you experiencing some strange and abnormal behaviour from your dog? As pet owners, this can understandably be quite frustrating. We aren’t telepathic, and that can make it difficult to understand what is going on with our four-legged friends. Luckily, you might not have to go tearing off to your local vet just yet, as what could be happening is a very natural process of change in your dog's hormones, which warrant certain behavioural responses.
The dog reproductive system could very well be your culprit, and what your dog could be experiencing is the biological cycle that governs dog reproduction. For that reason, it might be important to have an understanding of the dog reproductive system as well as dog hormones so that in these situations, you don’t get the wrong idea and you know your options. Because nobody wants to have to foot the bill for time on the vets' table that wasn’t needed in the first place!
What are Dog Hormones?
Luckily, hormones are the same in dogs as they are in humans, meaning that learning about them isn’t as arduous a process as it initially seems. Hormones are essentially the special chemicals that control more or less every process and behavioural choice in the body. For example, I’m sure you may have heard of adrenaline? Adrenaline is an important hormone. These special chemicals are released from various places in your dog’s body, and they function as natural stimuli to prompt certain behavioural responses. The most significant example of this, is dog reproduction, where everything to do with your dog surrounding the menstrual cycle, is the direct result of hormones. Hormones, however, are perfectly natural and nothing to be concerned about.
Where are Dog Hormones Released?
In short, all over the place. Hormones are typically released by organs that bare relation to the area most affected by their introduction. For example, the reproductive cycle is characterised by drastic changes in the dog reproductive system. So in this case, the hormones are released by the reproductive organs. There is also the pancreas, which is an important site for hormones relating to digestion, the hypothalamus (in the brain) for ones relating to cognitive function, and lastly the thyroid. The thyroid is of particular importance for pets because it is not uncommon for dogs and cats to have complications with this part of the body, which can even lead to a hormone imbalance in dogs.
What Happens in The Dog Reproductive System?
The reproductive cycle of the dog follows a strikingly similar pattern to that of humans, and dog hormones play a central role. In female dogs, the brain releases a special reproductive hormone called FSH, and this makes the eggs in their ovaries start to mature. This sets off a chain reaction where the brain then releases a hormone called LH. This one is the most important, as it causes the eggs to be released and move to an area where they can be fertilised. When this happens, your dog will experience behavioural changes that are consistent with the primal desire to fertilise the eggs and create a batch of puppies! Equally, the male dog’s will sense the change occurring in the females, and they too may begin to act out of character.
How Often is a Dog’s Reproductive Cycle?
You might be pleased to know, that unlike humans, dogs don’t menstruate for a 28-day monthly cycle. Dogs typically undergo this cycle twice in a calendar year. However, like humans, this trend is only typical, and the actual cycle varies depending on the breed and the specific dog. As for how long it lasts, this varies too, but usually is measured in a matter of weeks. If fertilisation is not achieved, the eggs are then removed and then it is not uncommon for dogs to enter a quiet and submissive phase immediately following; they aren’t sad, it is just their body reacting to a massive and quick change in dog hormones as LH ceases to be produced.
What Can I Do About My Dog’s Hormones?
Thankfully you aren’t at the mercy of your dog’s mood swings, and there are avenues that you can take as a pet owner to deal with this natural phenomenon. Dog hormone therapy and dog hormone supplements join a list of options that you can explore. However, it can be daunting trying to work out the best option to apply. Here are some of the favourite and most common options you can explore:
Spaying, or neutering in the case of male dogs, is a process through which the ovaries of the female dog or the testes of the male dog are surgically removed under anaesthetic so as not to cause any pain. Recovery is incredibly quick and this is a permanent fix to specific behavioural issues in dogs. Without the site where the hormones are released to, the effects don’t occur, sort of like removing the light bulb from the end of a circuit.
You can expect the restless behaviour to be totally relinquished in female dogs. Equally, in male dogs, this process typically leads to a huge reduction in aggression and the behaviours associated, such as marking territory and barking at other dogs. However, it is important that you think carefully when choosing to give your dog this surgery, as you would be essentially tinkering with your dog’s hormones in a very literal sense. This includes hormones which have various other functions too, so it is important that you feed your dog a balanced diet and even dog hormone supplements to complement their internal function.
Letting Your Dog Have Puppies
If you don’t mind the pitter patter of tiny paws around the house, then the simplest option is to just allow your dog to breed (in the case of a female dog anyway). However, once again you must consider that pregnancy in dogs also requires some safeguarding. A balanced diet and exercise are essential for maintaining your dog’s health during their term, and pregnancy and dog hormone supplements are also a great way to ensure that your four-legged companion has a happy and healthy pregnancy.
Getting a Balanced Diet
Dog hormones, like all of the other natural components of the body, require nourishment and maintenance. One of the main reasons that fat is a macronutrient is that they’re what the body uses to fuel the creation of essential hormones for all sorts of internal functions. That doesn’t mean you should be tossing your dog a stick of butter every morning, but it does mean that you should keep an eye on what your dog is eating, check the label, and putting some thought towards how you can optimise your dog’s nutrition.
Dog Hormone Supplementation
It can also be of great benefit to aid your pooch’s diet with some dog hormone supplements. Supplementation is the perfect way to complement your dog’s diet and exercise routines, and are a preventative measure that you can take to avoid the risk of hormone imbalance in dogs. There are plenty of supplements out there that can work to either facilitate the balance of dog hormones or help carry a pregnant dog to term for example. Don’t be afraid of the natural journey that your dog’s body goes on, just be aware of the tools you can use and the options that are there for you to make sure that your dog is living a happy and healthy life both inside and out. It is also important to try and prioritise the natural supplements over chemical ones as these will have a higher concentration of active natural ingredients, as well as being less likely to carry potentially harmful chemicals and additives.