Flat-faced dogs – known as brachycephalic dogs – are a popular choice as a pet in the Bayside area, thanks to their sweet and loyal nature and oh-so innocent faces.
But with their short noses and smaller airways, they are unfortunately prone to breathing issues, especially in warmer weather.
If you have a brachycephalic dog – such as a boxer, bulldog, pug or shih tzu – it’s really important that you take extra care of them in the heat of summer.
Why can a brachycephalic dog struggle in the summer heat?
With their short muzzles, brachycephalic dogs aren’t very efficient at panting. This means that in hotter weather, they can overheat quite quickly.
When it’s hot, dogs with a longer nose and more conventional face use panting to good effect, cooling themselves down quite efficiently. The shorter nose and smaller airways of brachycephalic dogs mean that they need to put much more effort into panting, which can lead to overheating and breathing difficulties.
Signs of heat stroke
With their ineffective panting, brachycephalic dogs are at a much higher risk of heat stroke. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition, so it’s important to know the signs to look out for:
- Heavy panting
- Difficulty walking
- Excessive drooling
- Glazed eyes
- Constant snorting
If you think your dog may have heat stroke, you need to try and cool them down as quickly as possible and call your vet for advice. Move them into air-conditioning, and if possible, place them in a small amount of water in the bath. Only allow them to drink small amounts of water at a time to minimise any choking risk.
Exercising in summer
Any excess weight can add to breathing difficulties, so it’s important that you continue to exercise your brachycephalic dog, even in the heat of summer. However, it’s important that you exercise them safely.
- Go for walks in the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or in the evening
- Take it slow, and allow for plenty of breaks during your walk
- Consider two shorter walks rather than a longer walk
- Use a harness instead of a collar to avoid putting any further pressure on your dog’s airways
- Buy them a cooling pad to lie on to keep a cooler body temperature during hotter temps
- If you have the space inside your house, opt for some indoors games with your dog to get them moving
Tips on keeping your dog cool
The best way to avoid your brachycephalic dog overheating is by keeping them nice and cool. Keep them inside during the hottest parts of the day with the blinds closed. If possible, maintain a cool temperature in your home with fans, air-conditioning. Always ensure your dog has ready access to fresh, cooled water – whether at home or out and about. A nice refreshing swim in a pool, at the beach, or cool off under the hose are also great options.
And it goes without saying, but never leave your dog in the car. Even if you have the windows down and parked in the shade, your car will heat up incredibly quickly.
Need more advice about caring for your brachycephalic dog?
If you own a brachycephalic dog, it’s important that you have a thorough understanding of the possible health issues – and warning signs – that these dogs can be more prone to having.
If you are ever concerned about what is “normal” for a brachycephalic dog, especially in the heat of summer, please get in touch. We can also provide you with advice on how you can best care for the special needs of your brachy dog.
To book an appointment with our vet clinic in Hampton East, visit our website, or call us on 03 9555 4808.