It is easier to spot the signs with large breed dogs. With a toy breed dog such as the Maltese, you will need to pay close attention to the signs that she is entering heat:
- Her vulva will become swollen - with some dogs this is a very slight swelling. Therefore you should take note of the normal size of her vulva to make a comparison when determining if she is indeed entering this phase.
If your Maltese urinates outside, the males will most likely be noticing her scent in her urine, as small amounts of blood mix in. It will be important to always supervise her when she goes outside. Very small traces of blood will mix into her urine and male dogs can almost enter a frenzy.... If possible, bring her to an enclosed area for bathroom needs...and at the very least, have her on leash and harness (not dog collar) so that you have full control and can keep her close by.
- Male dogs are taking notice - This is more than an "old wives tale". Male, un-neutered dogs are very strongly drawn to a female dog in heat. Breed does not matter and distance is almost irrelevant. Males will pick up on her scent from 2-3 miles (3.2 km to 4.82 km) away. You may notice stray dogs hanging around your home.
- Discharge - larger dogs can cause quite a mess when in heat; the Maltese will usually not have a heavy flow. However, for the sake of hygiene most owners implement the use of doggie diapers. Growing more popular each day, these come in a variety of colors and are an easy and simple method to keep the discharge from messing the carpets, her bedding or any area that she will be sitting on or resting on.
For some, there can be some hair loss after a heat cycle...If this is to happen, it is temporary...the coat may thin a bit but will grow back in as thick as before during the next couple of months.